Philip Schultz was 58 when he learned he was dyslexic. It explained a lot about his life, and he now attributes his success at teaching poetry and writing to struggling with his disability. Schultz won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Failure (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007).
I must credit Ray Olson for pointing out a great read-alike recommendation in his Booklist review: autistic savant Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day (Free Press, 2007).
SCHULTZ, Philip. My Dyslexia. 120p. Norton. 2011. Tr $21.95. ISBN 978-0-393-07964-7. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–This beautifully written and compact memoir chronicles the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s journey through life as a dyslexic. Attending school at a time when learning disabilities were not as well understood as they are today caused Schultz to experience some extremely negative feelings about himself. Although he knew that he was different from other students, he did not really understand his difficulties learning to read and write until he received a report from a neuropsychologist diagnosing his son’s dyslexia. He then began to unravel the reasons for a lifetime of his own difficulties. High school can be lonely for many reasons, but trying to overcome a learning disability adds an additional dimension in a world that revolves around reading, writing, and language. “My ignorance of my dyslexia only intensified my sense of isolation and hopelessness. Ignorance is perhaps the most painful aspect of a learning disability.” Agreeing to be a commencement speaker at a school for students with learning disabilities spurred the author to write about his life and his eventual success as a writer and a teacher. His poem “Disintegration” was written to convey what it is like to experience the “failure/panic/disconnection” leading to the shame and embarrassment of being helpless to make sense of what is going on and the inability to “answer back” to bullies. His story will resonate with any young adult who may be dealing with a learning disability, and it will promote understanding and perhaps compassion in others. His poems and narrative provide insight into the minds of those who think differently.–Vicki Emery, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Fairfax County, VA