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Disability and Creativity

By Lynn Strongin


Disability and Creativity

by Lynn Strongin

Date: Wednesday, November 8 at 11 AM PST

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Cost: Suggested donation $10 US.
We will offer this program free to those whose resources are limited.


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The American poet Lynn Strongin is arguably among the finest living poets; certainly her work is original and 'different.' Lynn has a stunning and substantial collection available in a beautifully produced, perfect bound volume; KIOSK, a simply stunning collection which could be considered to be a single poem as it follows on one-from-another gathering together threads and links to form a quiet unique story.


About the Author Lynn Strongin

Born in New York City at the end of the 'dirty thirties,' Lynn Strongin grew up as a musical child with a psychologist father and freelance artist mother. Following her parents' divorce in the mid nineteen-forties when this was still not widespread, the second trauma of her childhood was contracting polio at age twelve. However, this allowed her to develop a gift for introspection. After studying musical composition, she went on to take a graduate degree in American literature and poetry at Stanford University. She has totally devoted her life to poetry, and has written extensively about polio, the war years, and post-war life in her autobiography; INDIGO: An American Jewish Childhood. Her book SPECTRAL FREEDOM was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in literature. She has made British Columbia, Canada, her home for the past thirty years, but still considers herself an American voice. Other subjects important to her are the American South, women’s freedom, and the injustices done to girls and women in such institutions as the Magdalene Laundries.

Lynn's new book of poems, KIOSK is available from Erbacce Press in the UK.


Reflections by Lynn Strongin


Now in age, post-polio is a new challenge to “Make one little world an everywhere” poet John Donne said. I give thanks for Bridey being part of my world in childhood, and Mrs. Stanton, night nurse, ‘children, enjoy your time alone in the dark ’bedbound for three years. I have, once again, turned to the poets, especially the philosopher Simone Weil. I live close to deep feeling most of the time.  I have come full circle, listening to the Bach unaccompanied cello sonatas. I thought about medicine and music. Emmanuel Feuerman was the first cellist I loved, and later of course the beautiful, incomparable Jacqueline DuPre. My kid sister and I wanted to do something noble with our lives. I will always be tearing the veil off that mysterious disease polio.



I had a childhood no other could rival. I see Mrs. B coming through rainy New York City evenings, exhausted yet twice-alive, the very soul of bravery. Maturing early, I read poets who cast a light for a lifetime. I heard the music within the music. I had torn off the veil. I lived in the presence of that mystery music captures, a nimbus like ecstasy.

As a child I was numb when stricken with polio. A child who delighted in running, climbing, hiking, I found my world morphed into one framed by a window. From a hospital bed, I saw the season’s change, the colors of autumn burn down to the white translucencies of winter.

Long ago, I was in an infant military, some called it a concentration camp for children. But there were two good eggs: Bridey was one, she came at twilight our Irish washerwoman who wore a silver crucifix on dirty green wool about her neck Bridey held a cracked pocket-mirror over a child’s mouth to see if she was still breathing.

I left Haverstraw but does one ever wholly leave? Rows and rows of children in white gowns feet flexed?

It was an epiphany every time I dreamed, I could walk again until I shouted to myself STOP!” Marilyn Turkovich sees, in her Charter of Compassion, a sort of umbrella community of those who care about each other’s personal, often trial some, challenges.

Walking again, aside from with the aid of steel braces and wood crutches, that was the mountain I could not climb.

I began writing poems. I wrote one I showed my mother. She said send it to Robert Frost which I did. I received a letter by return mail from Ripton, Vermont Homer Noble farm.

He said, “You got it there to a poetic depth I shall remember.” I was on my way.

After polio, I asked our father for a Jewish star. He gave my sister and me each one. I had never gone to temple, but a Rabbi held a service once and I went. I felt the need for faith and cherished my star.


About the Host


Danielle Ofri MD, PhD is one of the foremost voices in the medical world today, speaking passionately about the doctor-patient relationship and bringing humanity back to health care. She is an internist at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the USA and Founder/Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, as well as a clinical professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine.

Danielle Ofri is the author of six books about life in medicine: 

She was also editor of a medical textbook—The Bellevue Guide to Outpatient Medicine—which won a Best Medical Textbook award. 

Danielle Ofri writes about medicine and the doctor-patient relationship for the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine. Her articles have also appeared in Slate Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, CNN and on National Public Radio.  

Her writings have been selected twice for Best American Essays and also for Best American Science Writing. She has received the McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association for “preeminent contributions to medical communication.” Ofri is the recipient of a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2023 Davies Memorial Scholar Award from the American College of Physicians, the 2022 National Humanism in Medicine Medal from the Gold Foundation, the 2020 Global Listening Legend Award, and has been awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Danielle Ofri has given TED talks on Deconstructing Perfection and Fear: A Necessary Emotion, and has also performed stories for the Moth. She is featured in the documentaries “Why Doctors Write” and “White Coat Rebels.” An ever-struggling student of the cello, her life goal is to make it through all 36 movements of Bach’s six cello suites before emeritus status. She’s on #25, but each one is exponentially harder, so she is not holding her breath.

Ofri strives for a serene, uncluttered life of Zen, but has teenagers instead.



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