GENEVA — Former Genevan Stephen Kuusisto, who was born legally blind, will discuss how a guide dog changed his life as the Finger Lakes Forum presents its second program at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21 at Club 86.

Kuusisto, a poet and an advocate for disability rights, grew up at a time when not as much was done for people with disabilities. Yet he managed to lead a relatively normal life as a teen in Geneva, a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, a Fulbright Scholar, a professor at Hobart and William Smith and a professor at Syracuse University. His father, Dr. Allan Kuusisto, was a past president of Hobart and William Smith.

A major turning point in his adult life occurred when he acquired a guide dog name Corky. She introduced him to a new world and understanding of how to live a life with a disability. In his 2018 book, Have Dog, Will Travel; A Poet’s Journey, Kuusisto presents what has been called a lyrical love letter to guide dogs everywhere, where he shares his story of how a guide dog changed his life and helped him learn to appreciate travel and independence.

Kuusisto still writes extensively and teaches at Syracuse University, but also has taken on a new role at Syracuse as Director of its Burton Blatt Institute, Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach.

He is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind; and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening; and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges.

The Finger Lakes Forum meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month from September through April for dinner at Club 86 followed by a program. The Forum is a membership organization and the annual dues are $50. Dinner is $23 per person. Non-members may attend by paying a drop-in fee of $10 plus $23 for dinner. Reservations for this meeting should be made no later than Friday, Oct. 18. Dinner choices are pork or chicken. All membership dues must be paid by the October meeting. Email your reservation to or call (315) 370-0396.

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