Reading Each Other

By Peter Levitt Recently, as part of a book tour, I was scheduled to be interviewed on a National Public Radio affiliate station. Before heading to the station, I called in to tell the interviewer I'd arrived and would be at the studio just in time. He asked me what I wanted to discuss and I told him I'd follow his lead but that he might want to read a few specific poems before I got there and, by the way, had he read the books? "Oh, yes! They're wonderful!"

When I arrived at the station I was led into the broadcast studio to meet my host. His back was to me as I walked in and so I just quietly introduced myself. He turned around, greeted me with a big smile and said "Welcome. Welcome." That's when I saw that he was blind. Disarmed, I thought, "How could he read my books?"

I fought with the apparent contradiction. But as I tried to make sense of the situation, my host, with great heart and humor, laughed as he heard the intra music to his show, ushered me into my seat before the microphone with a wave of his hand, bent to the controls, flipped a few switches and we were on the air. After a few welcoming remarks, he said, "I'm very pleased today to have poet Peter Levitt in the studio with me. Peter is the author of two new books," and then, to my amazement, he held one of them so close to his face that the cover brushed his eyelash. Then he did the same with the other. "My God," I thought. "He did read the books!" Knowing what he gave of himself to read my poems, my heart turned over and I felt the tears come into my eyes.

For the entire interview I couldn't take my eyes off this man. As the interview progressed, I realized he was "reading me" in the place the poems come from. As Robert Creeley once wrote, "What love might learn from such a sight."

Peter Levitt lives in Santa Monica, California. His two new books are One Hundred Butterflies and Bright Root, Dark Root, published by Broken Moon Press, Seattle, Washington.

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