The Deaf Island by Joann Gardner

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with covers by John Gall.


The age of Alzheimer’s is a demographic reality. I didn't know until I read Joann Gardner's The Deaf Island how it cries out for the eye and voice of a poet: for poetry’s adamant and powerful weakness, its courage to look at the world and not know what it’s seeing, its willingness to let itself be forged by the unknown—its negative capability.

—D. Nurkse

The Deaf Island


I gaze out the window onto the street. A cage of suet hangs
idly from the tree. A man in a wheelchair pushes past, pauses
for a smoke, then pushes back.

My father asks, “Where am I?” We tell him he’s in Portland.
“That’s nice,” he comments, and asks if he can go walking
with us in Portland.

My mother clings to the literal. “No,” she says, “I’m afraid
you’ll fall.”


Black ice on the roads. We walk down Congress Street
into the Exchange, a cold winter sun at our backs. No crowds,
even though it’s Christmas.

“I’ve been flying this morning,” he tells us, stretching out
his arms as if he were an angel.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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