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October 23, 2010, 2:30 PM

Recovering Syntax: A Poet's Struggle with Aphasia

Participants: Jason W. Brown, Marie Ponsot, Dorothy E. Ross, Jackson Taylor (moderator)

As we are accustomed to having our bodies and minds work smoothly in everyday life, it is a major insult to the integrity of our sense of self and competence when we lose one of our capacities. The more we have emotionally invested in some particular function, the greater the painful psychological impact of a sudden failure in our ability to perform various acts. Thus, for a musician, hearing loss would be particularly difficult, as loss of sight would be for a painter. For a poet, the loss of language and speech must strike to the core. This roundtable will address the personal, medical, psychological and rehabilitation aspects of just such a loss for a renowned poet, Marie Ponsot, who is recovering from a stroke.

Jason W. Brown is Clinical Professor of Neurology (retired) at the New York University Medical Center. He is the author of a dozen books, among them Aphasia, Apraxia and Agnosia; Mind, Brain and Consciousness; Mind and Nature: Essays on Time and Subjectivity; and Process and the Authentic Life. He was recently the subject of Neuropsychology and the Philosophy of Mind in Process: Essays in Honor of Jason W. Brown. His most recent book is Neuropsychological Foundations of Conscious Experience.

Marie Ponsot has published six books of poems, the most recent of which is entitled Easy. Professor Emerita of Queens College, CUNY, she has also taught at The New School, NYU, Columbia, and the Poetry Center of the YMHA. Her awards include the National Book Critics Circle, the Shaughnessy Medal of MLA, the poetry award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement.

Dorothy E. Ross is a Clinical Specialist in Speech Language Pathology at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, with a special interest in aphasia. She is the founder of aphasianyc.org and has volunteered with aphasia groups for more than eight years. She was formerly an Assistant Professor at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, NYC.

Jackson Taylor helped found the Graduate Writing Program at The New School, where he continues to teach. For almost twenty years he has served as director of The Prison Writing Program at the PEN American Center, and he wrote the program's Handbook for Writers in Prison. Taylor also teaches creative writing at Mediabistro and the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. His novel The Blue Orchard was published by Simon and Schuster in 2010.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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