Karl Stuart Kline

karl-stuart-kline.jpgBorn in Las Vegas, Nevada, Karl Stuart Kline has subsequently lived in or passed through nearly all of the 48 continental United States.

Too young to fully appreciate it at the time, he nonetheless was witness to modern American history as Bugsy Segal brought the Mob and the Strip to Las Vegas. He was also witness to the U.S. government’s above ground atomic testing and his older sister still has the dog tags that the government issued to her and other school children in the area because of the proximity of the atomic testing grounds.

Epilepsy became a dominating factor in his life after his family moved east to New England, alternately living in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York. Having hundreds of petit mal seizures a day, his youth is lost in the drug induced haze that was generated as doctors looked for a way to control his seizures. Fortunately, he outgrew the petit mal seizures. Unfortunately, grand mal seizures took their place. Since then, they’ve been something that, directly or indirectly, has affected every day of his life.

Every day begins and ends with anticonvulsant medication. On days that he is seizure free, he still has to be constantly aware of any conditions that can trigger a seizure and any signs of an aura that can signal an imminent seizure.

Living on the edge? I suppose so… There is probably very little in his life that he does that some well meaning person in his life has told him that he’d never be capable of, never mind what mean spirited people have had to say to or about him. Then again, that has all gone to motivate him as he has moved forward to make the most of his life despite his disability and the ever-present drugs that help control his seizures.

Living independently was his first goal and he was out the door and on his way as soon as he was eighteen and no longer subject to his mother’s dictates, over a year before he graduated from high school.

poison-pearls.jpgUnable to drive and so impoverished that he could seldom afford even public transportation, Karl turned to hitch hiking as an alternative means of travel. Impecunious, but rich in spirit, he found many agreeable traveling companions as he criss-crossed the country in the exploration of his youth. There were others, of course and he narrowly escaped a would-be rapist during one trip. He also found remnants of women’s clothing on a few occasions, where someone had obviously been less fortunate in making their escape than he was. Another time in the Blue Ridge Mountains he was forced to take cover when someone thought that it would be amusing that flatlanders could be used for target practice. Several of these experiences are related in his poem, “The Skeleton”, which was published in his first book, Poison Pearls. In it he relates the risks that he took in his youth to his discovery later in life of some skeletal remains near another roadside on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Still, his good experiences far outweighed the bad and the kindness of strangers took him down many unexpected roads. From the sexy waitress who convinced him that he needed a place to stay the night to the garrulous rum runner who took him on a winding night time journey down North Carolina’s back roads. Traveling through Oklahoma, he caught a ride in a pickup truck full of Indians and forty miles later, when it was time for them to turn off the main road, they invited him to accompany them to a tribal powwow where they were welcoming one of their braves back from Viet Nam. Truckers, rednecks, hippies, bikers and hot rodders all shared their rides with him at one time or another.

A traveling salesman with a barely noticeable accent turned out to be a former member of the Hitler Youth that had been part of the German resistance as the allies invaded Italy. His home in Gulfport, Mississippi was Party Central for the girls from the local women’s college who would meet sailors from the Seabee base in nearby Biloxi.

While there, Karl made several trips to New Orleans where he was a wide-eyed youth exploring Bourbon Street and the French Quarter during it’s wilder days. He still remembers the fascinating talents displayed by a tassel dancer and the young lady on a swing, swinging back and forth, naked, through the ribbons that were hung to cover a second floor window in place of the glass that had originally been there. She was a very animated advertisement for the club below her, but as New Orleans has cracked down on the clubs she’s been replaced by a mannequin and then later on that was replaced to the point that there were only the mannequin’s legs fastened to the seat of the swing as it continued to swing in and out of that overhead window. Perhaps by now even those are gone…

His education, work and personal history has been as varied as the people who he met in his travels. Going from place to place and back and forth between his parents had him attending several schools in any given year. He participated in some sports in that he played soccer for more than one school and when he attended Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, New York, he was a Greco-Roman wrestler.

He has attended public, private and state schools, changing schools so often that his grades were seldom a true indicator of his education. However, when it came time for the senior placement exams, three out of eight scores placed him in the 99th percentile. A true one percenter! Of his other scores, math was the only one that dipped below the 95th percentile, so, despite his circumstances, his medication and his disability, he had learned and achieved a greater education than the great majority of those students whose classes he shared. Not that it made any difference… The armed forces didn’t want epileptics, so they weren’t about to help with his education and his family had no money with which to send him to college. If scholarship help was available, it was not made known to him and he had no expectance of assistance from anyone.

So he became a learned person of high intelligence, but he seldom thinks of himself in those terms. Having a sketchy scholastic background with few diplomas other than those from high school and a basic college education has left him without any particular specialization, even though his majors shifted back and forth between Theater, Communications and Biology. However, his life experience has been exceptionally rich and he has overcome many obstacles along the way. Curiously, he has risen to the challenges that life has given him, but the physical challenges have always been greater than the mental ones. Additionally, his doctors have always tried to steer him away from a sedentary life style, telling him that being physically active was a proven therapy where seizure control was concerned and that, of course, has always been of primary importance.

His work history has been colorful, to say the least! He has worked as a lumberjack, livestock handler, farm hand, rough carpenter, circus roustabout, moving man, machine operator, Civil defense dispatcher, mail handler and as a reading teacher for developmentally disabled children. The few times that he has worked as a salesman found him selling guns, hardware, alcoholic beverages and original art. When he had his own shop (Karl’s Kollectibles), he sold almost anything that qualified as an antique or collectible, but specialized as much as was practical in paper collectibles, dealing in books, documents, newspapers, autographs and posters. He still has a respectable personal collection of first editions and old newspapers that include headlines from such varied points in history as Lincoln’s assassination, the sinking of the Maine and the bombing of Hiroshima.

As is evident in his choice of merchandise for Karl’s Kollectibles, his work history keeps returning to one facet or another of writing or publishing. In college he participated in his college newspaper as a writer, columnist, artist and copy editor. After college, he edited newsletters and programs for non profit organizations that he was involved with. He was also a proofreader for the Palm Beach Post-Times (before spell check!), the bindery foreman for Social Issues Resources Series (S.I.R.S.) and a contributing editor for an internationally distributed glossy magazine, The Canary and Finch Journal.

His personal activities and interests have included SCUBA diving, treasure hunting, deep sea fishing, barrel racing (on his own quarter horse), aviculture and the collection of original illustrations and comic art. In recent years, his art collection has grown to include some works from his Ukrainian friends, the sculptor Vlad Ivanov and the artist Sergey Poyarkov.

He is also a past president of Epilepsy Concern (a coalition of self-help groups), a past president of the Greater Miami Avicultural Society and is a lifetime honorary member of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

Karl’s poetry began when he was sixteen, when he wrote his first poem, “The Tear”, for a school assignment. Ten years later, he entered it along with a few others into a college competition and was very surprised when his first effort took first prize! He later found out that his works had initially taken all three top places! However, the rules of the contest dictated that there could be no more than one prize awarded per student, so there was some consternation when the prize winning poems were matched with the names of the authors and they came up with the same name on all three of them… Of course, the first place winner remained, but the other entries had to be reviewed again to decide upon the second and third place finishers. The pieces that originally took the second and third places were “Storm’s End” and “Patterns”.

Obviously, Karl has had a very full life despite his disability and his poetry has been an ongoing part of his life, no matter what else he has turned his hand to.

going-without-peggy.jpgGoing Without Peggy is his second book and is totally autobiographical in nature. The story is told of finding and losing the love of his life to breast cancer. That special someone who understood without words what it was like to have the disability that plagued them both. It’s all there from the happiness and high spiritedness of a young love that led to marriage, to the deeper feelings and devotion that were evident over time, through seventeen happily married years. That happiness is evident and makes the tragedy that much greater with the onset of breast cancer, a hard fought illness that couldn’t be defeated, culminating in her death and the despair of her surviving husband, finally ending on the uplifting note that he still has his life to live and that she would want him to find some measure of happiness in his remaining years.

That story now continues in his most recent book, Brain Stemmed Roses, done in six sections which also includes some works by the poet on poetry as well as some of his earliest works that are offered in contrast to some of his best and most recent works.

10 Responses to “Karl Stuart Kline”
  1. A testament to a life well lived, and most certainly setting an inspirational example of the human spirit.

  2. Guy Charlot says:

    IL n’est pas facile de faire une critique objective quand on connait personnellement l’auteur. Les oeuvres de Karl, POISON PEARLS, GOING WITHOUT PEGGY, touchent differents aspects de la condition humaine, ces aspects qui lui sont pourtant personnels, qui sont de sa propre vie, bouleversee par les maux de la societe environnante et au niveau mondial, par les terribles episodes d’epilepsie et la tragedie causee par la perte de son epouse, due au cancer du sein. Ces livres sont vifs et poignants et d’une franchise qui peut etre seulement attribuee a Karl.

  3. Is there anyone out there who can translate Guy Charlot’s comment which is posted above?

  4. This is what the Google translator gave me…

    “IT is not easy to make an objective criticism when the author personally was connait. Works of Karl, POISON PEARLS, GOING WITHOUT PEGGY, touch various aspects of the human condition, these aspects which are however personal for him, which is of its own life, bouleversee by the evils of the surrounding company and on a world level, by the terrible episodes of epilepsy and the tragedy causee by the loss of its wife, due to the breast cancer. These books are sharp and poignant and of a frankness which can be only attribuee Karl has.”

    Obviously the system is somewhat challenged!

    Over the last few days bringing together my own limited resources to do my own translation. That includes a couple of French speaking friends who told me that the original French was very well written in both content and context. virtually a work of art in its’ own right!

    “Bouleversee” is one word that I had particular difficulty with. Otherwise, this should be a fairly good translation
    Please, anyone, if you can help, please speak up!

    “It’s not easy to do an objective critique whenever one knows the author personally. The works of Karl, POISON PEARLS, GOING WITHOUT PEGGY, touching various aspects of the human condition, its’ aspects that are nevertheless personal to him, that are from his own life, bewildered by the evils of the surrounding society and of the world, by the terrible episodes of epilepsy and the tragedy caused by the death of his wife, due to breast cancer. These books are alive and poignant with a frankness that can only be attributed to Karl.”

  5. Translation of Guy Charlot’s Review, the best I can:

    ” It’s not easy to do an objective review when one personally knows the author. Karl’s novels, POISON PEARLS, GOING WITHOUT PEGGY, touches different aspects of the human condition, aspects of his personal life, shaken by societal heartaches, terrible episodes of epilepsy and the tragic loss of his with to breast cancer. His books are to the point and poignant in a way that can only be attributed to Karl.”

  6. It has come to my attention that this posting made Leicester Review’s top ten hit list for the month of September! (#4, actually…)

    Not bad, especially considering that it wasn’t even available until the middle of the month!

    Thank you to those people who have taken an interest in my story – every writer needs readers! And a special thank you to those of you that have brought this to the attention of others.

    A bit of information for those who are interested;
    This bio was adapted and updated from the one that was requested of me by the Pulitzer Prize Committee when GOING WITHOUT PEGGY was accepted in the competition in two different categories – both as verse and as a biographical work…


  7. To correct the spelling above:
    Born as Benjamin Hymen Siegelbaum, he is better known as “Bugsy” Siegel, the gangster,hitman and racketeer who actually died prematurely in 1947, shot to death a couple of years before I joined the Baby Boom.
    I still think of him as a contemporary, though, especially since my own mother had a run in with his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, in Reno only a couple of years before I was born.


  8. A recent development that will be interesting to the readers on this web site!

    About 90 of my works are archived at http://www.poemhunter.com/karl-stuart-kline – some are excerpts from my books and some have not yet been published in book form.

    Poemhunter features over 300,000 poems by over 24,000 poets and they maintain a “Top 500” popularity listing for active poets for each country and a separate “Top 500” listing for the world as a whole.

    A few weeks ago it came to my attention that I was included in that listing. Not only was I listed, but i was climbing in the ranks!

    When I first noticed, I was just joining the top 100 in the USA and I was already listed in the top 250 in the world. Since then I have continued to climb steadily in the rankings until this morning when I was #12 in the USA and #55 in the world! Not only that, my rise in the rankings seems to be drawing additional attention..

    Normally, I might not pay attention to something like this, since I am not prone to entering contests or engaging in popularity contests, but this site is drawing upon an extremely large base for it’s statistics and I cannot ignore that.

    Karl Stuart Kline

  9. Interesting!

    I found one of my works posted on a Chinese site yesterday – fortunately, I was given credit for my work or I never would have known about it:

    For a Distant Friend…

    Beauty comes and beauty goes,
    Like the Ocean, it ebbs and flows
    But the truest beauty can be seen
    When mind is sharp and Vision keen.

    If you look to your horizon
    And your Sight can look beyond
    Then truest beauty will you find,
    For I can touch you with my mind!


    Karl Stuart Kline

    I also found out that I was recently quoted in Indymedia UK and the Pakistan Christian Post.
    Here’s the link:



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