Publishing American Sign Language Poetry

The Deaf community boasts an incredible roster of poets, who use the creative capabilities of American Sign Language to develop visually captivating worlds and express the nuances of Deaf experiences. Like written poetry, ASL poetry uses forms and methods such as repetition, rhythm, and motif to play with linguistics and to convey meaning. However, the lack of a popular written form has kept ASL poetry and Visual Poetry from gaining the same recognition as written verse. Although ASL poetry proliferates in video form on the internet, even in our digital age it is still the printed publication that works as a hallmark of recognition for literary excellence.
What are the possibilities for bringing ASL poetry to wider audiences and gaining recognition from the publishing world? Translating poems composed and performed in ASL into English text is one possibility, but with the inherent complexities of translation and the additional challenges of moving from a manual, spatial and visual language to written text, many elements and meanings of the poems do not survive the process. Furthermore, a fraught history of oppression and a century of oralism (the banning of ASL in the classroom in favor of lipreading and speech) has deepened the commitment among many Deaf poets to preserve and elevate ASL and undo its ties to English. Beyond translation, what creative methods can be enacted to bring ASL onto the page?
Join poets, scholars and cultural writers for a reading and performance of signed poetry, featuring a variety of genre and styles, followed by a discussion on linguistics, translation, publishing and poetics. Poet, performer and director of ASL SLAM Douglas Ridloff, founders of The Flying Words project Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner, poet and editor John Lee Clark will share their original works and then have a moderated discussion by author and critical essayist Sara Nović.
Accessibility: This venue is wheelchair accessible. This event will have ASL-English interpretation. For any other access needs, please email [email protected] within two weeks of the event date.
Cosponsored by ASL SLAM, Sign Language Resources, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Bowery Arts and Sciences
Media Sponsors: Words Without Borders, American Sign Language (ASL)- English Interpretation Program (AEIP) at LaGuardia Community College