Friday, August 30, 2019

White Cane Evolution by Carol Farnsworth

We have a love\hate relationship with our white canes.  When first given a cane to use, we reject it.  Usually, we get into a situation where we find that is better to use the cane.

My incident came at a fast food restaurant.  I was eating lunch with my family.  During the meal, I got up to use the restroom.  I bumped into several tables on the way to the wall where I felt my way to the restroom.  I repeated the feeling and table-bumping until I was back at my own table.  When we were ready to leave, I unfurled my folding cane with several loud clicks.  As we were exiting the restaurant, I heard one of the employees remark,"I thought she was drunk!"  To be seen as drunk or blind, I would rather be blind.

Eventually, my orientation and mobility instructor convinced me that I would be safer with the white cane.  I was a novice working the cane.  When with my sighted guide, I would hold the cane in a defensive position.  If I became nervous, I would swing the cane wildly in front of us, people would part like the Red Sea in front of Moses.  I believe that they were worried about being struck by my wild antics with the cane.

With time, I learned the two techniques of bouncing the end from side-to-side or dragging the end of the cane from right to left.  Both cane movements were coordinated with walking.

When we traveled to Scotland, I had good cane use but the novelty of a white cane user convinced the pedestrians to give us a wide berth, some people were so intent to get out of our way they jumped into doorways or off the curb.

As I gained confidence and training in cane use I never left home without it.  Even with a sighted guide, I still hold my white cane at the ready.

When walking with my daughter, I was using my cane and talking to her. Unknown to me, she veered us directly towards four young men walking in a line. She stopped the end man and asked,”Don’t you see this lady is blind? She will not get out of your way!”. He mumbled a “Sorry?”. I quizzed her about the incident and she replied that they needed a lesson about others in their environment.

I have made peace with using my white cane and never leave home without one. People still want to help me cross streets or grab my elbow to propel me forward because they see the white cane, not me. With patience, I explain what I can and can not do. By interacting, I help people see the person behind the cane.
Biography (in first person):  I was born with glaucoma but have become totally blind in the last four years. I have a teaching degree in regular and special education and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. I worked with mentally disabled adults (many were nonverbal). I learned to use many techniques to elicit communication.

Similarly, I will use many tools to deal with blindness. I will use braille, voice over, and Seri to assist me with writing.

Other interests include gardening, listening to audio books, and riding a tandem bike, which my husband John and I have been doing for 22 years.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cry To Heaven by Jamztoma

Cry to heaven
Unloved and unwanted
Roaming the Earth
Lost and cursed
Man-child so weak
Nature's freak
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I am sobbing, sobbing
When will my troubles end?

Cry to heaven
Lonely forbidden
Underdog forsaken
an Adam-descent
non paradise-sent
unfortunate, hell-bent
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I'm sobbing, sobbing
When will I surrender to death?
Biography:  Jamztoma is a published poet residing in Silver Spring, Maryland.  He has a disability that he does not want to disclose at this time.  He has two poetry collections now being sold at Amazon, The PASEFIKA Beat (2013) and Lyrical Mysteries (2015).  "Cry to Heaven" that is featured on here was previously published in Lyrical Mysteries.  You can order it from Amazon via this link:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Giveaway: The Pretty One by Keah Brown

Image:  A black woman in a grey sweater is laughing with her eyes closed.  She has black, straight hair and black-rimmed glasses.  She looks to be outside.  Above her, there is a pink rectangle with the name "Keah Brown" in white capital letters. Below her, a yellow rectangle says "On life, pop culture, disability, and other reasons to fall in love with me".  In big, white text across her body, it says "The Pretty One".
We are giving away a copy of The Pretty One by Keah Brown (click here to see the book on Amazon).  This giveaway is open from today (August 16th) to September 20th. 


1.  Open to anyone in the world.  If the winner is outside of the 48 contiguous United States, they will receive the Kindle edition.  If the winner resides in one of the 48 states, they will have the option of Kindle edition or paperback.

2.  People may enter by leaving a comment on this post, emailing us at or getting in touch with us on Twitter @HandUnPen.  Please make it clear what you are contacting us for.

3.  Only one entry per person.  

4.  Drawing will be random, and the winner will be notified on September 21st (by 11:59 PM CST) via the method they entered with.  So, if the person who won entered via email, they will receive an email... and so on.

5.  No substitutions.  Void where prohibited.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Call for Submissions: Red Mare Chapbook Series

Image:  A block print of a red horse looking behind itself.

The Red Mare Chapbook Series is open for submissions of eco-feminist poetry manuscripts of ten-to-thirteen pages.  Poets can be any gender.  Before submitting your chapbook, you must send a sample stanza to Red Mare's publisher/editor Su Zi via Twitter DM (@xsuzi00).  There is no fee to submit.

Red Mare is sold through Su Zi's Etsy store (click here for link).  Each chapbook is hand-sewn with gorgeous, block-print covers.  The print runs are small with no reprints.

Make sure to ask her any questions you have prior to submitting.  If you want a bit of insight to Su Zi as an artist, she has an interview you can read.

Jennifer's note:  A lot of people publish with small presses and don't even attempt to promote.  Su Zi, like many of us, only has so much energy to spare.  Please, if she accepts your amazing work, at least try to get the word out.  You'd be surprised how many poets abandon projects once they're in the world.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Poem by F.I. Goldhaber

Trigger warning:  Brief mention of suicide


You're told NormalPeople don’t hallucinate;
don’t analyze suicide methods to minimize pain, ensure success.

You're told NormalPeople don’t think twenty things
at once, their thoughts racing from idea to idea to idea.

You can explain how you got from A to two
hundred three. You're told NormalPeople don’t process information this way.

You're told NormalPeople sleep through the night. Their
minds don’t obsessively weave inextricable webs which keep them awake.

You're told NormalPeople don’t have days when just
getting out of bed to confront the world becomes a major achievement.

When NormalPeople explain this, how do you
react? Do you want to settle for normal or flee to your mind's refuge?
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.

Friday, August 2, 2019

2019 Mentees!

Grace Quantock will be mentored by S. Baer Lederman.

Amy Hsieh was chosen by Drew Cook.

Pamela Hope will be mentored by Carey Link.

Amy Barrett was chosen by Sarah Krenicki.