Today, I woke up … still dreaming, still signing.
My dream, full-Auslan, continued as my body woke.
What better prompt than that to share this poem, written 2 years ago for SBS’s National Languages Competition. The competition, for students studying a language, asks them to share how it positively impacts their lives.
2019 was also the United Nations International Year of Indigenous languages – Auslan being a language indigenous to Australia, I wanted to celebrate and honour that. The poems needed to be written, and Auslan is 3-dimensional, so I played with using a basic form of GLOSS notation in the written poem as I thought about how I might express it in sign. It’s not a transcript, more a play between the written word and the signs I saw in my head.
There are so many ways learning Auslan, about Deaf culture, and meeting d/Deaf people positively impacts my life. This is just a small taste … a ‘thank you for sharing your language with me’ kinda poem.
Happy World Poetry Day! … and Happy Birthday to the hearing and Deaf poets I know who celebrate their birthday today. Rock On Wordsmiths!
Beyond sound there is a place of honour
where the hearing may learn to speak
VOICE-OFF, I SCULPT SENTENCES in SPACE
HANDS, CAPITAL LETTERS
BECAUSE the DEAF AREN’T SILENT
I hold WORDS in MY PALMS
to PLAY, RECEIVE, DISCUSS
TRY to UN-PUZZLE YOU
LIKE an OYSTER,
that a whole BODY LANGUAGES,
a PEARL BEYOND the SOUND BARRIER
YOU are WRITTEN, YET UNWRITTEN,
NOT to be GLOSSED OVER
I AM KNOCKING on the EDGE of a WORLD
where WORDS are PAINTED IN-AIR by SKIN
HONOURED to HEAR YOUR STORY, to be WELCOMED IN
Thanks to all the Auslan teachers I’ve had over the years. Your patience and generosity is remarkable.
For those keen on much better poetry … last year I collected some Deaf Poetry treasures. List below…
World Poetry Day 2020 rolled around as the world started shutting its borders. Arts and cultural events cancelled one after the other like dominos. People started to curl into their homes and count rolls of toilet paper.
How to kick the mood and celebrate … in isolation?
The hashtag #SharePoetry set the scene.
Conscious that Deaf arts and cultural events were being cancelled along with the others, I wanted to celebrate sign language and work by d/Deaf voices.
I thought: I will dive into the internet and get to know some more d/Deaf talent.
Then I thought: Why not share the treasures I find.
And so, a 🤗DEAF POETRY SHARING PARTY!!! 🤗 began.
I made a quick video announcement then started searching and sharing.
Here’s to celebrating the richness of poetry and Deaf language and culture, to connecting, celebrating, and watching with you, from your own little part of the world.
Some of the poems I found and shared:
It is just a taster, a tiny selection of the incredible work by d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing artists the world over.
Click on the links and the poems will appear …
Raymond Antrobus – UK
so much good stuff… e.g. Dear Hearing World
Christine Marshall – USA
with Deaf Heart in ASL
Ian Sanborn – USA
Caterpillar is very popular, so here’s something different Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom
The stars are the map I unfurl – a poem about Gerry Hughes the first deaf round-the-world solo yachtsman.
Three languages here … BSL, Shetlandic and English
includes several poems, one with brass instruments (playing with the felt sense of sound)
Nice collection of pieces here from Deaf-Info.
‘Thoughts of a Deaf Child’ by Stephen J. Bellitz got me good!
collection of pieces translated into ASL
… works by Neil Gaiman, Poe, Dickinson, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll
Artists and Deaf storytellers working together.
This is arts funding at work.
Where can you find more work by d/Deaf poets? And submit your own poems?
The Deaf Poets Society is one such place
Rounding it all up with …
Jessica White‘s poem Signs
and her intoxicating essay ‘Can I Do My Words?’: On the Poetics of Deafness in Cordite. So much in one piece!
Thanks for playing #DeafPoetryParty
FANTASTIC WORK. I have reposted individual poems from your list (acknowledging your labour) on my FB & Twittered some too
Thank you so very much!