National Poetry Month: The Story of a Dyslexic Poet

picture of William Butler YeatsInaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April as a month-long celebration of poetry and its vital place in American culture.

In a previous post, I featured Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz and his memoir entitled My Dyslexia. So in this post, in appreciation of National Poetry Month, I want to showcase another famous dyslexic poet, William Butler Yeats.

W. B. Yeats is one of the most famous poets of all time, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923, but few people know about his personal struggle with dyslexia.

Yeats was educated in London and Dublin. In his autobiography, he speaks frequently of the frustration and struggles he experienced in his early education. He wrote, “Several of my uncles and aunts had tried to teach me to read, and because they could not, and because I was much older than children who could read easily, had come to think, as I have learned since, that I had not all my faculties.”

In another excerpt, he described his education: “I was unfitted for school work, and though I would often work well for weeks together, I had to give the whole evening to one lesson if I was to know it. My thoughts were a great excitement, but when I tried to do anything with them, it was like trying to pack a balloon in a shed in a high wind.”

From Yeats’ autobiography, we get the same sense of frustration felt by so many who struggle with dyslexia. Yeats pressed through the struggle with his “school work” to become not only a Nobel Prize winner, but one of the most famous poets of the 20th Century. Dyslexic writers and poets who have struggled with words and mastered them give us a glimpse of how persistence, passion, and dedication can lead to mastery and even to literary brilliance.

If your child struggles with reading, writing, or spelling, the most important first step is a professional evaluation. No matter where you live, your child can be tested and treated individually, face-to-face, online, by the clinical educators at Lexercise. Learn more here, or contact us at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

2 Responses to National Poetry Month: The Story of a Dyslexic Poet

  • I am a medical doctor and my son, who is now becoming 24, had been diagnosed to have dyslexia at the age of 18, after several frustrating years of unexplainable failure to attend the last classes of High School. After diagnosis had been made, which was mainly due to my persistent effort for an definite answer,things became smoother, as my son was permittent to attend in a blended-type year and then in almost full-time attendance, at a technical high school in the computing field. His grades were excellent, except from the case when one teacher asked him to write a composition (subject he knew perfectly, was about the Human Rights)without completing the exam with oral test. Anyway, after the graduation (2012) he is preparing himself to apply for studies in Psychology (which has always been his choice) at the University of Bangor or at other universities that can support students with dyslexia. He has completed a 100hours accredited on line course (Introduction to Psychology) and is now going to give the IELTS test. He has also got a clear talent in literary thinking and creative writing, which had been supressed when difficulty in writing became almost prohibiting, and which,I believe will also be again on the way.
    Dyslexia had been a fear, a pain, but now is becoming a gain for us, as we eventually get to know more and more about it. I strongly believe that one day my son will be able to help students with dyslexia to study in a more happy and fruitful way and get all the reward and happiness they deserve.

    • Dear Dr. DOUNDOULAKI,
      Thanks for taking the time to post your story. Parents will find hope in your story. The ranks of dyslexia clinicians are full for people who have struggled with dyslexia themselves or who have family member who have. Perhaps your son would like to get training in the Orton-Gillingham approach (the research-backed approach for teaching reading and spelling to a child with language processing differences) before he finishes his degree? Here is an article that describes some of the training opportunities: http://support.lexercise.com/entries/20482001-Orton-Gillingham-Training-Opportunities

      Thanks for taking the time to post this hopeful message and for pointing our the importance of a clear and specific diagnosis!

      Best regards,

      Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC
      Co-Founder, Lexercise

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.