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HEARING-IMPAIRED YOUTHS MAKE LOTS OF SENSE

STARS, WIND AND DREAMS: Poems, Stories and Essays by Hearing Impaired Students; edited by Thais T. Williams; Alexander Graham Bell Association; 70 pages.

Just as there are comfort zones in life, there are comfort zones in literature. C.S. Lewis claimed there were two kinds of readers: those who read to confirm their biases and those who read to challenge their biases.The first group gets peace of mind.

The second group gets that charge that only comes from seeing the world in a new light.

That fresh slap of insight is the best argument for reading America's new crop of ethnic and women writers. And it's a great reason to pick up "Stars, Wind and Dreams," an anthology of writing from Utah's hearing-impaired youth.

It's been said that losing one of your senses tends to heighten all the others. One could make a good case for that notion with this collection of prose and poetry. Sights, tastes and smells leap from the page here. There are sounds, to be sure, but they are soft, muted. They never drown out the "true" music, that music that comes from within. This, for instance, from Sheree Whitaker:

Sheree is a hot pink name,

hot pink as raspberries

waiting to be eaten,

hot pink as my purse

hanging on my shoulder,

hot pink as my shoes

dancing on my feet.

Colors burn bright in this book. So do touches.

In her foreword, editor Thais T. Williams explains the motivation for the collection: "After becoming a teacher of the deaf and listening to my students talk about their varied, funny, and frustrating experiences, determination grew to help them get these experiences into print," she writes.

A contest was started for hearing-impaired high school and junior high students. After seven years, the time came to reap the harvest.

This book is the bounty.

Thirty-nine writers contributed. Some, such as John Hill, offer extended prose sketches. His "My Short Memoirs" will open your eyes. Others - Benjamin Bangerter and Chris Flygare - chip in with small flashes of poetic insight and wit.

In the end, all the pieces seem to fit together in a mosaic of a world - the world of the deaf.

It is a handsome book - well-conceived, carefully edited and professionally crafted. The writing is tight and strong. The illustrations - also from students - are quick and light.

But don't read this book if you want to confirm your notions of the universe.

This book, more than most, is a real bias buster.