Soft Focus


Out of stock

poems by

Katherine W. Barr

Poetry chapbook, 52 pages, cover price $10

IBSN: 978-1-59948-205-7


Release date: 2009

Katherine W. Barr is a Virginia native and a retired high school librarian with a BA from Queens University, Charlotte, NC. She is a former president of the Charlotte Writers’ Club and edits a quarterly newsletter for the NC Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Her poems have appeared in Bay Leaves, Kakalak, Iodine Poetry Journal, The Lyricist, The Main Street Rag, and Pinesong.

Katherine Barr’s Soft Focus is tough-minded, honest, witty and elegant. Macular degeneration, part of a huge world the poet experiences, strengthens her ongoing resolve to live passionately. The poems celebrate love of family, friendship and travel. My favorites are the companion poems, portraying her affinity for the Biblical Paul. This book has spunk!

—Irene Blair Honeycutt
Before the Light Changes


In Soft Focus, Katherine Barr takes you by the elbow to guide you gently, cautiously through the thoroughfare of macular degeneration. Her poems allow the reader to “see in the dark” of her loss, while illuminating this loss’ tender rewards. A devoted husband painting her toenails. A small grandson helping her read Dr. Seuss. Peripheral glimpses of a blurred landscape. Some might imagine loss of central vision to be like a fist before the eye. Katherine Barr’s beautiful, wise poems gentle that metaphorical hand to open and focus the reader’s vision. An indelible journey.

—Dede Wilson
Sea of Small Fears


Only twice do I recall
yelling at my daughter—
once when she, age four,
and two playmates
overflowed her tub.

All her stuffed animals
were swimming among
my marble collection,
two inches of water
on the floor.

Shouting all the while,
I grabbed the tin marble
box and threw it
against the tile wall.
It felt so good,
I threw it again, and again.

The second time I yelled
at Claire, she was seven,
in the front yard
with her eyes closed,
arms extended, stumbling

into shrubs and trees,
laughing, “Look, Mama,
I’m blind.” I froze,
screamed, “No, no!
Never pretend to be blind.”

All I know is,
I walked into the house,

Rose-colored Glasses

You always see the world through
rose-colored glasses, people said.

Actually, before my loss
of vision, I wore pale pink

glasses – stylish, flattering.
Since everything has blurred,

those pink glasses, unused,
compel me to add color –

magenta, fuschia, chartreuse,
aubergine, tangerine, turquoise –

brilliant, snazzy, feisty color,
to the world I can still see.

My Vampish Self Decorates
My Face And Talks A Mile A Minute

Put the light on high on that magnifying mirror. That’s better. Now smile so I can get this rouge in the right places. Yes, I know they say blusher, but it’s not a thing but rouge. Open those eyes wide, honey. Just because they don’t see worth a diddly, doesn’t mean they have to go ‘round looking wimpy. No, ma’am. Don’t move a muscle now while this mascara dries. Lookin’good, babe. Now my favorite part – Hot Line Lipstick. Don’t even
breathe. You know, I’ve been thinking ‘bout one in every hundred being blind. Sugar, I know you don’t like complainers, and we wouldn’t wish bad vision on a dog. Careful, hold still. Now that’s more like it! Well, I’m not about to question God’s plan. But I have to say, Miss Priss, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense if that one in a hundred was somebody who didn’t know Maybelline from Esteé Lauder?

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