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.

Live Broadcast 29: My Dyslexia by Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. He is also dyslexic. His recently-released memoir, My Dyslexia (W. W. Norton), traces his struggles with undiagnosed dyslexia and the determination that led to his tremendous success.

Mr. Schultz joined us to discuss his experiences growing up dyslexic, and he read a couple of poems, too. Watch the video below and let us know in the comments if you have read his book.

If your child is struggling with reading, writing, or spelling, you can take one of our free learning disability tests.

My Dyslexia… Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You!

In a previous post, I talked about the importance of movies like “The King’s Speech” in drawing public attention to poorly-understood conditions. We are hopeful that what “The King’s Speech” did for stuttering a major motion picture will someday do for dyslexia.

book cover for My Dyslexia by Philip SchultzMeanwhile, I’m extremely encouraged to see that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz has written a memoir entitled My Dyslexia, which is scheduled for release this month from W. W. Norton & Company.

Like many adults with dyslexia, Schultz was never diagnosed. He simply struggled through the miseries of school and teasing and slowly taught himself to understand, and eventually master, written language.

Here is the publisher’s description of Schultz’s book:

“Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2008, Philip Schultz could never shake the feeling of being exiled to the ‘dummy class’ in school, where he was largely ignored by his teachers and peers and not expected to succeed. Not until many years later, when his oldest son was diagnosed with dyslexia, did Schultz realize that he suffered from the same condition.

“In his moving memoir, Schultz traces his difficult childhood and his new understanding of his early years. In doing so, he shows how a boy who did not learn to read until he was eleven went on to become a prize-winning poet by sheer force of determination….”

I encourage you to listen to a wonderful NPR Talk of the Nation interview with Philip Schultz, “Prize-Winning Poet: Discovering ‘My Dyslexia’ At 58” and you can also read an opinion-page article by Philip Schultz in the Sunday New York Times, “Words Failed, Then Saved Me.”

Schultz’s experience, like that of many people with undiagnosed and untreated dyslexia, is profoundly moving, especially since he now has a writer’s ability to describe his own struggles and triumphs.

If you have a child who struggles with reading, writing, or spelling, the first and most critical step in getting the right help is a professional evaluation. You can read more about diagnosing dyslexia or contact us with your questions at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.