Reading to Ted Hesburgh
- About the Author
In 2008, Desmond spent Christmas evening reading to a blind man. That blind man was Theodore M. Hesburgh, perhaps America’s most famous Catholic priest, described by Joe Biden as “the most powerful unelected official this nation has ever seen”. Hesburgh has received 150 honorary degrees — the most ever awarded to a single individual — and been bestowed with both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian awards in the US.
Inspired by this brief encounter, what Desmond recounts as his “most meaningful Christmas”, this thread of poetic ruminations contemplates three classic stories about blindness: Helen Keller’s “Three Days To See”, C. S. Lewis’ “The Man Born Blind”, and Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”. Also weaved into the suite of poems is the classic tale of The Blind Men and The Elephant that appears in distinct variations across Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sufi traditions, the parable introduced to the West by John Godfrey Saxe’s famous poem written in the 19th century. Scaffolding this collection of poems are ideas by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This book is a commemorative tome, published to mark Hesburgh’s birth centennial in 2017.
“A book for both poets and philosophers. Attractively designed, it captures Desmond Kon’s meditative conversation with philosophers, writers, and painters. Hegel will be smiling in heaven as he has found new dialogical partners in this book.”
—Kwok Pui Lan
“Simply put, the opposite of aesthetic is an anesthetic which inhibits our senses and thereby our ability to feel, to taste, to smell, to hear, and to see. In his collection of poems entitled Reading to Ted Hesburgh, Desmond Kon involves all of our senses through a visually pleasing presentation of both words and text that engages our feelings, our imaginations, and our memories as he moves us alphabetically from alienation toward world soul. His poems remind us that the classical Hindus believed the poet was a seer, and the classical Greeks that the poet was a maker. Kon creates a new world of seeing through sound and memory, as he ‘plays’ in the best sense of the Sanskrit concept of lila with words and their meanings. He leads us through the darkness into the light as he brings a new world into being and transforms our senses, referencing well-known works of art, literature, and philosophy that awaken the power of metaphor and imagination.”
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is the author of an epistolary novel, a hybrid work, a neo-noir proem suite, and six poetry collections. Founding editor of Squircle Line Press, Desmond has edited over fifteen books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations.
Cover Type: Softcover
Page Count: 136
Year Published: 2017