The book I am about to review is by dyslexic writers. As a dyslexic myself I felt it was time to 'out' my writing, and so for the first time (and probably the last!) I am going to review this book as myself - me the dyslexic, with none of the usual checks and strategies to make it easy for you. Easy for you because writing conventionally is such a strain for me. From here on there are no more spells checks, proof reading, reading it out loud or backwards, leaving it 48 hours in the hope that I will 'see' my own errors with a bit of time passing, or asking my "normal" literate husband to check my work. After the colon is my unamended style:
Forgotten Letters: An Anthology of Literature By Dyslexic Writers, edited by Dr Naomi Folb is a collections of poems and essays by writers ho are dyslexic. I met the editor Nim Folb on twitter abut eight months ago. She runs RASP - rebel against spelling publishing - which specilisies in publishing deslixic writers and is dysleci herslef. We exchanged a few amused emals. Nim was entertiained by the idea of a dyslecic bookseller and I by the idea of a dslexic publsier.
Nim has a wonderfully positve line on dyslexia and has no time for cures or other attitudes that suggest we need fixing. I have struggled with writing, and especially spelling all my life, and as you can see have troubl with it to this day despite two English degrees, a post grad teching qualification, 5 years teahcing experience (two as whole school literatcy coordinator) and 8+ years as an assistant examiner for th GCSE literature paper. My main probem is sequencing: letters withing words, words withing sentences, sentences within paragraphs and ideas with an essay or indded a blog book review. Normally writng is very hard for me and takes a long time. I have a lot of stregegies to cope but they are time conduming. his oine reaosn why I trouble fitting blogging in- getting my prose fir for public sondumption take so much linger than I guess it doe sfor most of you. The one things I envy 'normal' people is the ease at which they can produce something so crisp and reable. I am guessing tht quite few people have given up readingt his already, but it is incredibly liberating for me.
So, it must be incredibly libberating for dysleic writers to be able to submit to a publish whos says: "no need to use ‘spell check’ or nondyslexic grammar rules. RASP is more interested in dyslexic creativity than the ability to conform to external ‘standards’." Nim, as you;ll see from ehr site, can like me, make a show of largely conforming to the external standard but frankly it is like speaking another language!
Forgotten Letters, to continue the refreshing theme, is a very resfeshing read. it is not as hard to read as this probably is for you, as many of the sydleci writers do conform. better known names included are Benjamin Zepaniah, Billy Childish (the painter0), Sally Gardener etc. The poems and the essays are moving and funny and show the wide veriation in experience and talent of these writers. It makes wonderufl book for dipping into whether you any interest in literacy or not, but it is amust read for a teacher, parent or employer.
It has been long argued that dyslexia is not simple a disbility it is a differnt ability. I've never been anything else so it is difficult to comment but my husband maintains I think in very peculiar ways. My very self-employment as a books seller (and Nim's as apublisher) might be held as typcial of the dyslei who can think outsife the usual box. If you intereste din teh subject of what dyslecis can do rather then what they can't the Proust and the Squid,. which cover the science history of how humand learn to read is also veyr good on the dslecic gift. Fate throuh me two lifelong conditions. I suffer from Hypermobility Syndroem. I *suffer* from that, but I merely am dysleic and am quite happy being so. It is wonderful to see dyslxia so postivley protrayed. It is a bit of an effort to write but I am not uduly bothered by it. I never wake up thinking I wish I wasn't dyslexic.
Having praised all that positiveit do I really thnk we dyslecixs shoudln't try and confirm? No. On ethe whoel I thnk we hve to - written communicvtion is too hard with out the ttempt. But it might be nie for thse who are nrmal to see just how much effort we have to put int o communicationg with you! We hope you appreicate it! So, if your a dys;eic teenager who has stumbled on this I'm afriad yI still think you need to learn strategies tha work for you. there is no way roudn working harder in thend.
And it is a very speedt post for me this - I#d normally spend an hour sorting the above out! So, Forgotten Letters: An Anthology of Literature By Dyslexic Writers (I cut and pasted that can you tell??), come with a more than usually personal commendation from me, but don't buy it becuse you feel sorry, or even just curios, buy it because it is actually a damn good read. And that's no more surpising than a sylexic English teacher, or bookseller or publisher!