Detail View: RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive: Evolution of a Deaf poet

Filename: 
ds_0027_lentzlectureperformance_cap_01.mp4
Identifier: 
ds_0027_lentzlectureperformance_cap_01.mp4
Title: 
Evolution of a Deaf poet
Creator: 
Lentz, Ella Mae
Subject: 
Deaf Poetry
Subject: 
American Sign Language
Subject: 
American poetry 20th century
Subject: 
Deaf, Writings of the, American
Subject: 
ASL poetry
Summary: 
The lecture covers significant events and changes in Lentz's life and poetry in both English and American Sign Language. In particular, Lentz explains her youthful fascination with language and theatre. This developed through experiences with her Deaf parents and Deaf community as well as early National Theatre of the Deaf performers. She shares her analysis of ASL storytelling and ASL narratives, categorizing them and describing their purpose. In her analysis of ASL poetry, she performs and discusses her works "Fuchsias" and "Travels with Malz." Next, Lentz performs and discusses the context of several of her ASL poems. The poems Lentz performs are: "Eye Music," "Silence, Oh Painful," "The Dogs," "The Glass Wall," "Signing Is Like a Tree," "Wedding Poem" (later evolved to a poem titled "Circle of Life"), "Untitled Poem" (later evolved to a poem titled "The Door"), "To a Hearing Mother," and "Children's Garden."
Publisher: 
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Digital Publisher: 
Rochester Institute of Technology - RIT Libraries - RIT Archive Collections
Contributor: 
Miriam and Kenneth Lerner ASL Poetry Collection
Contributor: 
National Deaf Poetry Conference (1987 National Technical Institute for the Deaf)
Date of Original: 
1987
Date of Digitization: 
2018
Broad Type: 
moving image
Digital File Format: 
mp4
Physical Format: 
VHS
Dimensions of Original: 
51 minutes
Language: 
American Sign Language
Language: 
English
Original Item Location: 
RITDSA.0027
Library Collection: 
Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections
Library Collection: 
Miriam and Kenneth Lerner ASL Poetry Collection
Digital Project: 
2018-2019 CLIR Grant-ASL Poetry and Literature
Catalog Record: 
https://albert.rit.edu/record=b3954519
Catalog Record: 
https://twcarchivesspace.rit.edu/repositories/2/resources/815
Place: 
New York - Rochester
RIT Spaces and Places: 
Henrietta Campus
Rights: 
RIT Libraries makes materials from its collections available for educational and research purposes pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. It is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.
Rights: 
CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Transcript: 
...AND SHOW YOU WHAT SOME OF MY POEMS HAVE BEEN THAT I'VE CREATED. I'D REALLY LIKE TO LET YOU KNOW I'M VERY NERVOUS BECAUSE SOME OF THE POEMS, I HAVEN'T REALLY FULLY CONNECTED WITH, I HAVEN'T FULLY MEMORIZED, BUT I'VE BEEN PRACTICING AND I FEEL FAIRLY COMFORTABLE, SO, I HOPE ALL GOES WELL. THE FIRST POEM I'D LIKE TO START WITH IS CALLED..."EYE MUSIC." AND I'D LIKE TO EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT. WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, MY PARENTS USED TO TRAVEL AND WE USED TO ALL GO CAMPING IN DIFFERENT PLACES, AND I REALLY LOVED TO LIE ON MY PARENTS' LAP AND LOOK OUT THE WINDOWS AT THE--AT THE TELEPHONE WIRES AS THEY WENT BY. IF YOU LOOK AT ONE PLACE, YOU CAN SEE THEM DIP AND GROW AND UP AND DOWN, AND I LOVED TO WATCH THEM. AND MUCH LATER, I WOULD RIDE ON TRAINS, AND THE SAME PHENOMENON WOULD OCCUR, AND I DECIDED TO WRITE A POEM. AND I WROTE THIS POEM IN ENGLISH FIRST. AT THAT TIME, I COULDN'T WRITE IN ASL, UNTIL FINALLY, I SAW SOMEONE SIGNING AND WRITING IN ASL, AND I DECIDED TO USE THAT METHOD, AND I DECIDED TO WRITE A POEM ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE. EYE MUSIC. IT'S THE EYE MUSIC OF THE TELEPHONE WIRES, LIKE MUSIC SHEETS WITH LINES THAT RISE AND QUIVER AND SWAY AND LOWER ALONG WITH THE PASSING OF SPACE AND TIME. NO EARS NEEDED TO HEAR, NOR ANY--NOR ANY INSTRUMENTS TO PLAY. EYES ARE THE EARS, AND THE PIANO AND THE FLUTE ARE THE WIRES. AND THE OCCASIONAL POLE IS THE DRUM. BOOM, BOOM. HERE IS ONE BOLD, WANDERING WIRE, AND NOW HERE ARE 5 DANCING, HIGH AND LOW, IN TURNS WITH POLES. THEN 5 DISAPPEARING INTO ONE AGAIN AND THEN A CROWD OVERLAPPING QUICKLY AND THEN SLOWLY. SO BEAUTIFUL TO THE EYE AND HEART. ONE WONDERS-- WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE? [APPLAUSE] OK. NEXT POEM IS CALLED "SILENCE, OH, PAINFUL." IT'S ONE OF MY EARLIEST ASL POEMS I WROTE. I WAS HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN AT THE TIME, AND HE WAS ALSO DEAF, AND WE COULD COMMUNICATE QUITE WELL, BUT WE HAD SOME TERRIBLE DISPUTES, AND AFTER THAT, THE MAN WOULD WALK AROUND IN THE SAME SPACE IN THE SAME ROOM IN THE SAME HOUSE WITHOUT SPEAKING TO ME ALL DAY, AND IT MADE ME MAD. LIKE A WALL WAS BETWEEN US. AND I DECIDED TO WRITE THIS POEM. AND I FOCUS ON HAND SHAPES AND PLACEMENT. SILENCE, OH, PAINFUL. KNOWING HE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY BUT DON'T KNOW WHAT, AND KNOWING I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY BUT DON'T KNOW HOW. LOOKING INTO HIS EYES, A WALL FORMS BETWEEN US. NO MORE EYES PASSING INVISIBLE WORDS. NO MORE QUIET HEART MESSAGES, EXCHANGES. TOUCHING HIM, GOOSEBUMPS ON MY ARMS. NO MORE TIGHT HANDCLASPS. NO MORE WARM EMBRACES. WHEN HE GOES, HE VANISHES. NO MORE GETTING LETTERS SIGNED, "LOVE." NO MORE SETTING ASIDE THINGS TO SHARE. WHY? WHY? SILENCE. [APPLAUSE] NEXT POEM IS CALLED "THE DOGS." THERE'S A LITTLE STORY BEHIND THIS POEM. THERE ARE TWO DEAF ORGANIZATIONS IN MY HOME AREA, AND BOTH OF THEM ESTABLISHED JUST 5 OR 6 MILES FROM EACH OTHER. VERY CLOSE, BUT THEY HAVE SUCH DISPUTES, AND THEY WRANGLE, BECAUSE ONE OF THE DEAF GROUP THAT HAS VERY FORMALLY ESTABLISHED, VERY BUSINESSLIKE, AND THEY'RE A DEAF AGENCY. AND THEY'VE PROGRESSED QUITE WELL. BUT THE OTHER IS KIND OF A LOW-GRADE, KIND OF PARTY KIND OF GROUP. VERY DEAF, VERY CULTURALLY DEAF, VERY COMFORTABLE, WHILE THE OTHER OFFICE IS SO PRISTINE. SO, THIS OTHER GROUP DECIDED TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN ORGANIZATION, VERY CASUAL, BUT THEY WRANGLED ABOUT MONEY. HAD THIS DISPUTE. AND THE PROGRAM WAS DESTROYED IN THAT WAY. AND I WROTE THIS CALLED "THE DOGS" BECAUSE I THOUGHT THIS ONE STAFF WAS LIKE MUTTS AND THE OTHER STAFF SOUNDED LIKE A DOBERMAN. [PERSON LAUGHS] SO, THAT'S A CONDENSED VERSION OF THE STORY BEHIND THIS POEM. THE DUST SETTLES. TWO DOGS SIT FACING EACH OTHER. ONE, A DOBERMAN. SHARP BEARD, SLEEK, BRILLIANT, SUCCESSFUL. THE OTHER'S A MUTT. SLOPPY, DIRTY, ILLITERATE, TOUGH. BETWEEN THEM, A CHAIN. AT BOTH ENDS, THEY HAVE CHEWED DESPERATELY, TUGGED AND TUGGED AT EACH OTHER, VIOLENTLY RUNNING AROUND, BUT STILL NOTHING. THEY'RE BOUND. THEY SIT FACING EACH OTHER, GROWLING, AND THE DOBERMAN SAYS, "UNFORTUNATELY, "WE ARE DOGS ALIKE, BUT WE DO NOT ASSOCIATE. I RESENT YOUR PRESENCE, YOU LOWLY ANIMAL." [LAUGHTER] AND THE MUTT SAYS, "YOU HIGH AND MIGHTY SNOB. "I HATE YOUR GUTS. I DON'T NEED YOU. "I'D KILL YOU IF I COULD, BUT "IF HE'S DEAD, I'D HAVE TO DRAG HIM. AWW. DAMN CHAIN. DAMN CHAIN." BUT...WAIT. WHY DO WE HAVE THAT CHAIN? YES. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? CHAIN. COOPERATION. CONNECTEDNESS. CREATES FREEDOM. [APPLAUSE] YOU NOTICE THE "F" HAND SHAPES? I WAS PLAYING WITH THAT. THEY CAME TOGETHER-- THE CHAIN, COOPERATION, FREEDOM. OK, NEXT POEM IS CALLED "THE GLASS..." "THE GLASS WALL." THIS POEM I WROTE IN DEDICATION TO TWO WOMEN. ONE WAS HEARING AND THE OTHER WAS DEAF. BOTH WORKED WITH THE TV AND NEWS STATION IN CALIFORNIA, IN MY AREA. THEY HAD A VERY SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZATION, AND I RESPECT BOTH OF THEM VERY WELL IN--IN THE WORLD. BUT--AND AT THAT TIME, THE HEARING WOMAN, RIGHT BEFORE THIS, SHE DECIDED TO START DEVELOPING DMI FOR THE DEAF, AND THEY WOULD PUBLISH-- THEY WOULD SEND OUT NEWS AT 5 EVERY 5 MINUTES. ONCE A WEEK, THEY WOULD DO A 5-MINUTE NEWSCAST ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE WORLD TO THE DEAF. AND EVERY NIGHT, THEY'D HAVE THIS 5-MINUTE SEGMENT CALLED "THE GLASS WALL," BECAUSE-- IT WAS A GREAT IDEA, BECAUSE THEY SAW THAT DEAF PEOPLE WERE VERY MUCH THE SAME AS HEARING PEOPLE, BUT OFTEN THEY COULDN'T COMMUNICATE WITH HEARING PEOPLE, AS IF THERE WAS A GLASS WALL BETWEEN THE DEAF AND THE HEARING. THIS STYMIED COMMUNICATION THAT PEOPLE COULDN'T PASS THROUGH. AND ALSO, THEY EXPLAINED THAT THIS DEAF SIGN LANGUAGE IS REALLY GREAT BECAUSE SUPPOSE YOU'RE IN A TRAIN AND YOU'RE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE TO SOMEONE OUTSIDE THE TRAIN. YOU CAN JUST DO SO RIGHT THROUGH THE WINDOW, BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE EACH OTHER. HEARING PEOPLE CAN ONLY SAY, "GOOD-BYE, GOOD-BYE," AND WAVE GOOD-BYE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. BUT--AND THE GLASS WALL IS A BARRIER ALSO BETWEEN THE DEAF AND THE HEARING. SO, THERE ARE MANY IDEAS FOR THAT. SO--AND THERE'S ANOTHER MEANING FOR IT ALSO. YOU'LL SEE IT WITHIN THE POEM. SO, THIS POEM IS DEDICATED TO TWO WOMEN. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. THESE ARE GESTURES FROM OUR HEART POURING OUT THROUGH THE GLASS WALL BECAUSE YOU AND YOU, BEYOND THE GLASS WALL, WITH THE FRAME AND EARS, HAVE SHOWN US THAT THE WALL WILL ALWAYS BE THERE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY SHADED, OVERLOOKED. THAT'S WHAT WE THOUGHT. LIVE NEWS, CAPTIONED? IMPOSSIBLE. WAS POSSIBLE. INTERPRETER, FULL-SCREENED? IMPOSSIBLE. IS POSSIBLE. OUR OWN DEAF NEWSCASTER IS IMPOSSIBLE. IT IS POSSIBLE. THAT, WITH THE GLASS WALL, WITH THE FRAME AND THE EARS, WE COULD SHOW ALL WHAT WE ARE REALLY LIKE, AND WHAT WE REALLY NEED, AND NO MATTER WHAT, THE WALL IS THERE. PEOPLE BEYOND AND PEOPLE BEHIND CAN REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER OVER IT. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. [APPLAUSE] THE NEXT POEM IS ENTITLED "SIGN IS LIKE A TREE." IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF A POLITICAL POEM. IT'S ONE OF MY EARLIEST POLITICAL POEMS THAT I WROTE IN ASL. AND YOU CAN WATCH AND YOU CAN SEE MANY-- MANY SIGNS AND MANY IDEAS THAT RELATE TO THE DEAF EXPERIENCE. SIGN IS LIKE A TREE. ONCE, LONG AGO, THERE WAS A DRY SEEDLING, INCONSEQUENTIAL, PRESSED INTO THE DARKNESS, HIDDEN IN THE MIDST OF THE DIRT OF BARE FIELDS. FOR YEARS, IT LAY GERMINATING, AND THEN, SPROUTS SHOT UP, AND THEN ANOTHER, AND THEN MORE. BRANCHES EMERGED AND BLOSSOMED. THE TREE BECAME UNIQUE AND LOVELY, NATURAL, CREATIVE, EXPRESSIVE. AND THEN STRUCTURES BEGAN TO ENCROACH ON THE TREE. CIVILIZATION BEGAN TO SURROUND IT. NEW TREES WERE SOWN IN CULTIVATED ROWS, PERFECTLY TRIMMED AND BORING. BUT PEOPLE SAY THESE SEQUENTIAL TREES ARE PERFECT. PEOPLE SAY THIS TREE IS NOT PERFECT. PEOPLE SAY THIS TREE DOES NOT FIT IN WITH THEIR PLANS. PEOPLE SAY IT'S UNBECOMING. PEOPLE SAY IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO LET THE CHIMP SWING IN THAT TREE. PEOPLE SAY IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO HIDE IT AWAY IN THE FOREST WHERE NO ONE CAN SEE. BUT I DISAGREE. THAT'S NOT THE PLACE. IT'S BEST TO LET THE LITTLE GIRL EMBRACE THE TREE. LET IT BE STRONG AND PROUD AND TALL, REACHING OUT ITS ARMS FOR ALL TO SEE. TO SIGN. [APPLAUSE] NEXT POEM IS ENTITLED "THE WEDDING POEM." I WROTE IT FOR TWO CHRISTIAN FRIENDS OF MINE WHO ARE BOTH HEARING. THEY'RE VERY GOOD FRIENDS OF MINE. AND WHEN THEY BECAME MARRIED, THEY ASKED ME TO WRITE A POEM FOR THEM. I THOUGHT ABOUT IT FOR A LONG TIME AND I REALIZED THEY BOTH HAD A VERY STRONG FAITH IN JESUS. AND AFTER I THOUGHT ABOUT IT FOR A WHILE, I CAME UP WITH THIS POEM THAT I THOUGHT BLENDED WITH THEIR BELIEFS ALONG WITH MY BELIEFS ALSO. SO, THIS IS A POEM ESPECIALLY FOR THEIR WEDDING. AND THIS POEM USES STARS AND SHAPES AND CIRCLES AND ALL DIFFERENT SYMBOLS. IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, AND THE EARTH BEGAN TO TURN. FIRST THE SUN AND THEN THE MOON SPILLED THEIR LIGHT ONTO THE PLANET, AND THE OCEANS SWELLED. MOUNTAINS ROSE FROM THE EARTH AND GREEN SPROUTED FROM THE SOIL. SEA CREATURES SPLASHED THROUGH THE WATERS AND ANIMALS DANCED ON THE LAND AND THE WINGED DIPPED INTO THE AIR. FROM GOD'S HAND CAME ONE HUMAN, THEN ANOTHER. THEY MET TOGETHER IN GRACE, AND THEN FROM GRACE THEY FELL INTO RIVALRY, INJURY, CONTENTION, HOSTILITY, VINDICTION, REVENGE, AND THROUGHOUT THE EARTH, THERE WAS YEARNING AND HUNGER, FEAR, RAGE, AND WAR. THEY KILLED ONE ANOTHER UNTIL BLOOD RAN THE WORLD. THEN, INTO THE CHAOS, GOD REACHED DOWN HIS HAND TO PRESERVE HIS CREATION. WITH HIS OWN SWEAT AND BLOOD, HE BLESSED THEM. AND THE BLESSING SPARKED TWO FLAMES OF HOPE THAT BURNED TOGETHER, BUILDING TOWARDS GRACE AGAIN, AND THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FORGED THE RINGS THAT WED THEM, AND THEIR WEDDING SHED A BRIGHTER LIGHT OF GRACE AND LOVE RESTORED. PRAISE BE TO GOD. [APPLAUSE] THE NEXT POEM HAS NO TITLE. I HAVEN'T COME UP WITH ONE THAT I'VE DECIDED IS PERFECT. MAYBE AFTER YOU ALL SEE THE POEM, YOU CAN HELP ME OUT. AGAIN, IT'S A BIT OF A POLITICAL POEM... AND NOTICE THE RHYTHM IN IT. OUT OF THE DARKNESS OF TIME ROSE THE MURMUR... OF THE MILLIONS, EXCEPT FROM ONE, ODDLY DIFFERENT. THE CROWD STARED AND CRIED OUT, "DEAF." DOORS SLAMMED, SENTENCING SEPARATION. BLOCKING IN ISOLATION. SO THEY THOUGHT. UNTIL THE ONE FOUND ANOTHER. DEAFNESS A BOND, NOT A BARRIER. MORE JOINED US AS WE DISCOVERED OUR ARTICULATE HANDS AND WE TALKED IN RELIEF IN OUR FREEDOM OF SIGNS. WHEN STORMED BY ANTHEM-DRIVEN SOLDIERS, PITCHED TO FEVER BY THE STRENGTH OF THEIR REGIME. FOLLOW ME. LINE UP. NOW SIT. THE CAPTAIN WITH HIS WHIP IN HAND INFLICTS HIS SENTENCE--SPEAK. SPEAK. SPEAK. DAMN YOUR CHAINS. WE'LL PRONOUNCE OUR OWN DELIVERANCE AND LOCK YOU OUT FROM LIVES YOU WILL NOT DOMINATE. THEN IN THE SPACE OF OUR SILENCE, WE GRANT EACH OTHER SANCTUARY, SPEAKING EASILY IN THE LANGUAGE THAT IS OURS, WHEN, AGAIN, THERE WAS A POUNDING FROM BEYOND. A POUNDING. DON'T ANSWER, DON'T OPEN. THE POUNDING WAS INSISTENT. BUT I WONDER. I DON'T KNOW. I JUST WANT TO SEE. AND SO, STEP BY STEP, WE SUCCUMB, OUR SILENT AGREEMENT UNDONE. [NASAL VOICE] I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU ALL TO COME OUT OF YOUR DARK AND SILENT WORLD AND JOIN US IN OUR BRIGHT AND LOVELY WORLD. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] THOSE WHO HEAR SIGNING, YES, BUT SUCH QUEER SIGNS THEY SHAPE. WHAT WAITS OUT THERE? PERHAPS THERE'S SOMETHING WE SHOULD SEE. BE CAREFUL. COULD IT BE THEY NOW HAVE DIFFERENT STRENGTHS? CAUTIOUSLY, WE WALK FORWARD INTO THE STERILE, NARROW CORRIDORS. THE UNKNOWN MAZE SEEMS ENDLESS. AND IT IS CONSTRICTING US. WE TRY TO RUN, RETREAT, BUT WE CANNOT FIND THE SAFETY OF OUR SANCTUARY. AND SO, WE WALK ALONE, NOT KNOWING, AND THE PRESSURE STIFLES US UNTIL IT LIGHTS WITH THE BRIGHTNESS OF SOMEONE BECKONING. BURNS FALL AWAY AS WE FIND OURSELVES RELEASED. THERE SOON WILL COME A TIME WHEN WAR GIVES WAY TO PEACE, WHEN WHAT WAS MISCONSTRUED IS COMMUNICATED AND ENEMIES BECOME FRIENDS. GUNS ARE BEATEN INTO PLOWSHARES. THIS SOON WILL COME TO PASS. [APPLAUSE] NEXT POEM IS CALLED "TO A HEARING MOTHER." AND I WANT TO TELL YOU THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM. I USED TO WORK IN THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF, AND THERE WAS A INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS FOR THE DEAF-- OF THE DEAF, WHEN I WAS THERE. THERE WAS ONE WOMAN WHO WAS THE MOTHER OF A DEAF BOY, AND I USED TO WORK WITH A DEAF MAN MYSELF WHO HAD GROWN UP ORALLY, BUT HE COULD SIGN REALLY WELL, AND THE TWO OF US WENT TO VISIT THAT OFFICE FOR SOME REASON, TO BORROW THE TYPEWRITER, SOMETHING, TO HAVE A DISCUSSION, AND WHEN WE LEFT, THE WOMAN GOT SO ANGRY WITH THAT MAN. THE WAY SHE SCREAMED AT HIM, IT WAS LIKE SHE WAS YELLING AT HER OWN SON, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS AN ADULT. HE WAS 25 YEARS OLD. AND THE WAY SHE MANIPULATED HIM MADE ME SO ANGRY. I THOUGHT IT WASN'T FAIR, THAT HOW DARE THIS WOMAN TREAT THIS ADULT LIKE A CHILD. I THOUGHT IT WAS DISGUSTING THE WAY SHE TREATED HIM. AND...AND WHEN I WALKED AWAY FROM THAT, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY FEELINGS. I COULDN'T PUT THEM DOWN. IT GERMINATED IN MY MIND FOR YEARS. JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO, FINALLY, I GOT ANGRY ENOUGH TO LET IT ALL COME TOGETHER. THIS IS NOT DIRECTED TOWARDS THIS MOTHER IN PARTICULAR BUT TOWARDS ALL HEARING PARENTS OF DEAF CHILDREN. YOU AND I ARE OF WORLDS FAR APART. OUR LANGUAGES DISSIMILAR, OUR LIVES ALWAYS DIVERGED. YOU LIVED YOUR LIFE UNCONSCIOUS OF US. YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF DEAFNESS CONSISTED JUST OF WORDS OVERHEARD, THOUGH I LIVED QUITE AWARE OF YOU. YOUR WORLD OPPRESSED ME. AND THEN YOU GREW THE MYSTERY OF A CHILD AND BORE A BOY. DEAF. YOU WERE STUNNED AND DISMAYED. I, SURPRISED AND DELIGHTED. COURAGEOUSLY, YOU CARRIED ON, YEARNING THAT HE GROW UP IN YOUR KIND. I COMMEND YOU, BUT YOUR SON IS LIVING A LIFE LIKE MINE. HE HAS YOUR EYES, YOUR HAIR. HE'S PHYSICALLY OF YOU, BUT HE SHARES MY THOUGHTS, MY WORLDVIEW AND LANGUAGES. HE'S SPIRITUALLY OF ME. HE IS YOUR SON, BUT HE'S OF MY PEOPLE. WHO DOES THIS BOY BELONG TO? YOU OR ME? THIS CHILD IS LIKE A TREE. IF NOT FOR MY PEOPLE, HE WOULD BE HOLLOW, DECAYING FROM LONELINESS, EMPTY OF SOUL. IF NOT FOR YOUR PEOPLE, THE SEED HAS NO SUSTENANCE, AND OUR NOBLE PEOPLE, OUR LANGUAGE WOULD DIMINISH AND WITHER. OUR STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION IS A SAW THAT SLICES, SPLINTERS, AND THE SAPLING WILL FALL. NO. YOU AND I MUST BLEND OUR NURTURING ENERGIES AND MERGE INTO THE SOIL THAT NOURISHES THE TREE SO THAT HE MAY GROW TO THE HEAVENS. [APPLAUSE] ...AND MY FINAL POEM IS ONE ENTITLED "CHILDREN'S GARDEN." YOU KNOW, LIKE KINDERGARTEN. CHILDREN'S GARDEN. I'VE--I'VE USED THIS POEM-- I'VE TAKEN A LOT OF EXCERPTS FROM THE BIBLE AND INCORPORATED INTO THIS POEM, AND INTO IMAGES OF THE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF, AND THIS IS WRITTEN FOR THE 25TH CELEBRATION OF--OF CHILDREN'S SCHOOL-- SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF, BECAUSE RECENTLY, MANY SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF HAVE BECOME THREATENED BY MAINSTREAM PROGRAMS, AND PERHAPS THIS KIND-- THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. SO, I THOUGHT THIS PERFORMANCE IS VERY IMPORTANT, AND SO, I'D LIKE TO PERFORM THE POEM AGAIN FOR YOU. MANY YEARS AGO IN ISRAEL, THIS MAN SAID IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR MAN THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGING ROUND HIS NECK AND HE BE CAST INTO THE SEA THAN FOR HIM TO OFFEND ONE OF THE LITTLE ONES. THIS MAN WAS LOGOS. THE LANGUAGE, THE COMMUNICATION, GOD TO US, WE TO GOD, WE TO EACH OTHER, HEAVEN AND EARTH UNITED. BUT THIS MAN WE REJECTED, KILLED AND CAST INTO A TOMB. DEAF CHILDREN, ISOLATED. SCARED, ASHAMED, SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS QUIETLY GESTURING. THEY ARE AS SPECIAL AS FLOWERS, SOWN ONE BY ONE, AND THEN SOMEONE SAW THEY NEEDED TO BE PLANTED, AND THEY GREW. EACH ONE BEAUTIFUL--RED, YELLOW, BLUE, PURPLE, ORANGE. A PERSON CAME ALONG, SAW THEY NEEDED LEARNING. LOVINGLY DID HE REPLANT THEM IN A GARDEN. THE DEAF SCHOOL. SCARED AND SHOCKED. THEY STARED AT EACH OTHER, SLOWLY REALIZING THEY ARE FAMILY OF COMMON LANGUAGE. BUT...PEOPLE, DISGUSTED, COULDN'T TOLERATE THEM, COULDN'T STAND THE COLORS AND PREFERRING THE BARENESS ALL AROUND, THE BULLDOZER ORAL PILLAR SWEPT OVER THE GARDEN, IGNORING SOMEONE'S CRYING OUT IN VAIN. SMASHED, THE FLOWERS HURTING, LYING THERE. OHH. SOMEONE CAME AND NURTURED THEM AND THEY BEGAN TO SIGN AGAIN. AND THE PEOPLE, THEY COULDN'T TOLERATE IT, SO, THEY THOUGHT. THEY ACCUSED THE GARDEN OF A GHETTO THAT RESTRAINED THEIR MINDS AND THEY THOUGHT, "YOU SHALL BE BROWN, MAINSTREAMED," AND THEN ONE DARK NIGHT, AN ARMY WITH SCYTHES SNEAKED IN, ONE BY ONE. THEY CUT THE FLOWERS AND DISPLACED THEM, ALL OF THEM. THE RED, THE YELLOW. NO ROOTS TO WITHER AND DIE UNDERNEATH THE BROWN OPPRESSION. THE SACRED GARDEN GREW SMALLER. WAIT. REMEMBER WHAT HE SAID. IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR A MAN THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGED AROUND HIS NECK AND BE CAST INTO THE SEA THAN FOR HIM TO OFFEND ONE OF THE LITTLE ONES. INSPIRATION. WE WILL FIGHT. BLESSED WITH THE RAIN AND SUN AND WIND. SEEDS SPREAD AND SPREAD AND SURVIVE, GROWING STRONGER. MORNING CREEPS IN. LOOK. THE TOMBSTONE IS CAST ASIDE. THIS MAN LIVES. AND SO, THIS CHILDREN'S GARDEN WILL LIVE ON. [APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. OK, NOW WE'RE GONNA TAKE A 15-MINUTE BREAK. [APPLAUSE] IT'S SO EXCITING TO BE HERE. I'M FINALLY GOING TO SHOW MY WORK TO ALL OF YOU, AND IT'S SO INCREDIBLE TO SEE OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK DISPLAYED AND SHARED WITH EACH OTHER. IT'S UNBELIEVABLE. I FEEL LIKE THERE'S--I FEEL LIKE I'M A NEWBORN BABY, AND IT'S REALLY EXHILARATING FOR ME. THE FIRST POEM I'D LIKE TO-- [APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. NOW, GOOD MORNING, AND I'D LIKE TO-- I'M BOTH A TEACHER-- AS YOU CAN SEE, I'M DRESSED AS A TEACHER--AND A POET. AND--AND MY VOCAT--AND I'M GOING TO EXPLAIN ABOUT MY EVOLUTION AS A POET, AND WHERE I'VE COME TO TODAY. I GREW UP ALWAYS FASCINATED IN TWO THINGS. ONE OF THEM WAS LANGUAGE AND THE OTHER WAS THEATER. I WAS FASCINATED IN BOTH OF THESE FIELDS ALWAYS. IT STARTED LONG TIME AGO WHEN I WAS JUST A LITTLE GIRL. I WAS ONLY ONE OR TWO YEARS OLD, AND MY MOTHER, WHO WAS ALSO DEAF, WAS--WAS SO--WAS SUCH A WONDERFUL TEACHER FOR ME. SHE'D ALWAYS SIGN AND EXPLAIN THINGS AND COMMUNICATE AND TALK TO ME AND THROW SIGNS AT ME, AND I'VE HEARD STORIES SINCE THE TIME I WAS A BABE IN MY MOTHER'S ARMS. SINCE I WAS GETTING THE MILK FROM HER, I STARTED TO FINGERSPELL "MILK" AND LEARNING STORIES FROM MY MOTHER. ALSO, BERNARD BRAGG WAS A FAMOUS STORYTELLER IN THAT SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF WHERE I WAS. SO, I SAW, AS MY MOTHER, HOLDING HER HAND, AND SHE'D FINGERSPELL TO ME "TREE" AND SHOW ME "TREE," AND SHE STARTED TEACHING ME FROM THE TIME I WAS SO LITTLE THAT IT REALLY AFFECTED ME, AND THEN WHEN I WAS ABOUT 3 YEARS OLD, WE STARTED TO LOOK AT CHILDREN'S BOOK, AND MY MOTHER WOULD TELL ME THE STORIES IN SIGN. SHE WAS REALLY A WONDERFUL PERFORMER, A GIFTED STORYTELLER, AND SHE'D USE HER MOUTH AND HER FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, AND THAT'S WHERE I'VE GOTTEN THAT ASPECT OF MY OWN SIGNING FROM. I'VE INHERITED MY STYLE FROM MY MOTHER. SHE WAS SO FULL OF LIVELY ANTICS AS SHE TOLD HER STORIES, HER ACTION STORES, AND--AND THEN I WOULD READ THE STORY AND SAY, "IS THAT WHAT THE STORY WAS ABOUT?" THAT'S WHEN I WAS ONLY-- WELL, I WAS VERY YOUNG. 3 OR 4 YEARS OLD, I STARTED TO DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN READING BECAUSE OF THAT, AND BECAUSE OF MY MOTHER'S STORYTELLING. I'D CALL HER A STORY PERFORMER. I WOULD CALL MY MOTHER A STORY PERFORMER. I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT AT THE TIME, BUT NOW I REALIZE SHE WAS PART OF THAT CATEGORY OF PEOPLE WHO WAS REALLY GIFTED IN STORYTELLING, AND SHE CAUSED ME TO BECOME MORE FASCINATED IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. A LONG TIME AGO, WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I WOULD SAY THE LANGUAGE I HAD THE MOST FASCINATION FOR WAS ENGLISH, AND NOW IT'S BOTH ENGLISH AND ASL. WELL, I GREW UP AND WENT TO SCHOOL. I HAD OLDER DEAF STUDENTS WHO WERE VERY GIFTED AT SIGN, AND THEY WOULD ALSO TELL STORIES. WE ALSO HAD MANY ORAL PEOPLE, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. WE HAD MUCH MORE MANUAL PEOPLE. AND WE HAD SOME PEOPLE WHO WOULD USE A LOT OF WIT IN THEIR SIGNS. YOU KNOW, AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE, THEY TEND TO DO THAT. AND THEY ALSO HAD THAT USE OF SIGNS IN MY SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. MY FAMILY ALSO WENT TO DEAF CLUBS, AND WE WENT TO PICNICS, AND EVERYBODY THERE WOULD TELL STORIES, AND I LOVED TO SIT AND WATCH THESE WONDERFUL STORYTELLERS AND--AND SEE THE GOSSIP THAT WENT ON, SEE HOW PEOPLE EXPRESSED THEMSELVES. YOU KNOW, THEY WOULDN'T LET ME GET TOO INVOLVED BECAUSE I WAS A KID, BUT I'D PEEK AROUND THE CORNER AND GET WHAT I COULD. BUT MY MOTHER ALLOWED ME AS BEST SHE COULD TO LET ME BE INVOLVED, AND SHE DIDN'T MIND IF I-- IF I BOTHERED HER TOO MUCH. SO, I LOOKED AS MUCH AS I COULD AND I WATCHED STORYTELLERS. EVEN AT NTD, THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF, THE FIRST GROUP INCLUDING BERNARD BRAGG AND JOE VELEZ AND AUDEN-- AND AUDEN AND NORTON. THERE WAS THE FIRST GROUP OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF, AND THEY WERE FROM MY HOMETOWN, AND I KNEW ALL OF THEM PERSONALLY. AND WHEN I WOULD GO TO SEE THEM PERFORM AND DO THEIR ACTING ON STAGE, I'D ENJOY IT SO MUCH, AND THAT WAS A POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON ME WHEN I WAS A CHILD. SO. LET ME TELL A LITTLE BIT OF A STORY. THAT WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A STORY OF MYSELF, AND NOW I'M GOING TO GO BACK INTO THE ROLE OF TEACHER. STORYTELLING. WHEN I WAS WRITING THE ASL CURRICULUM, WE TRIED TO LOOK AT ART FORM AND SEE WHAT KIND OF SIGNS WERE USED IN THAT. WE FOUND THAT THEY'RE VERY IMPORTANT-- THE ART FORM HAD A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE DEAF COMMUNITY. WE CAN EVEN LABEL THAT A PART OF ASL POETRY, AND I THINK THAT ART FORM HAS HAD A VERY--WILL HAVE A VERY STRONG INFLUENCE ON ASL POETRY IN THE FUTURE. WE'VE ALSO ANALYZED THE WAY THAT SIGNS ARE NARRATIVES, ARE COMPARED WITH POETRY, AND HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE TWO FORMS BETTER. NARRATIVE SIGNED STORIES. AND NARRATIVES ARE DIFFERENT FROM STORYTELLING. I HAVE A LIST OF CHARACTERISTICS THAT I'VE DEVELOPED THAT ARE VERY SIMILAR TO THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT DEBBIE DEVELOPED YESTERDAY FOR YOU ABOUT HER POETRY, WHEN WE'VE DISCOVERED THINGS SUCH AS A STORYLINE, SUCH AS...AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND DETAILS. STORIES ARE VERY CASUALLY TOLD. YOU CAN BE SITTING AROUND IN A GROUP TELLING STORIES. YOU KNOW, HOW DEAF PEOPLE DO, THEY'RE TELLING SOMETHING THAT WENT ON IN THEIR LIVES, WHEREAS THE NARRATIVE... IS A MORE ADVANCED USE OF THE LANGUAGE. IT'S MORE COMPLEX. IT'S MORE DEVELOPED. PEOPLE IN THE STORYTELLING-- IN THE NARRATIVE GENRE, PEOPLE TEND TO STAND IN ONE PLACE, BUT...AND THEY TEND TO STAND UP AS OPPOSED TO SIT DOWN, AND THEY WALK AROUND THE STAGE. REGULAR STORYTELLING IS USUALLY SIGNED IN A SMALLER SIGNING SPACE, BUT THE--BUT THE MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE IS--IS--IS BIGGER, AND USING A BIGGER SPACE. STORYTELLING IS USED TO GIVE INFORMATION, TO GIVE NEWS, TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE, AND SOMETIMES, PEOPLE WILL ADD DETAILS AND EXAGGERATE A LITTLE BIT TO MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING. BUT THE NARRATIVE GENERALLY HAS A LESSON, A MORAL THAT IT'S TRYING TO GET ACROSS. THAT'S ANOTHER POINT OF THE-- OF THE MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE. STORYTELLING TENDS TO USE A DIRECT EYE CONTACT WITH THE AUDIENCE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE AUDIENCE IS FOLLOWING WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, WHILE THE MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE TENDS TO BE MORE SEPARATI-- MORE SEPARATED. IT--THE AUDIENCE IS--IS LESS INVOLVED, AND THE NARRATOR HAS MORE CONTROL, WHEREAS IN REGULAR STORY, THE AUDIENCE IS FREE TO INTERRUPT AT ANY TIME. IN THE MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE, THE AUDIENCE REACTS MORE AS AUDIENCE AND--AND SITS BACK AND WAITS TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN. AND THE NARRATOR THEMSELF BECOMES THE REACTOR AND ASKS, "WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?" AND ANSWERS THEIR OWN QUESTION RHETORICALLY. THERE ARE 4 DIFFERENT KINDS OF CLASSIFICATIONS THAT WE'VE DEVELOPED OF STORYTELLING, THE NARRATIVE. NUMBER ONE IS PERSONAL STORIES. THAT'S VERY SIMILAR TO THE STORIES I WAS JUST EXPLAINING COMMONLY TOLD WITHIN THE DEAF COMMUNITY THAT--THAT DEBBIE WAS TALKING ABOUT YESTERDAY. YOU MAY SAY THAT YOUR ROOMMATE CAME IN AND WENT TO SLEEP AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, THERE WAS A BANGING ON THE DOOR, AND--AND SHE WAS REALLY SCARED AND SHE THOUGHT SOMEONE'S HAIR WAS WAVING AND IT MAYBE WAS A WITCH. THAT'S A PERSONAL STORY. BUT WHEN SHE CHANGED THAT STORY AND MADE IT MORE DRAMATIC AND WENT ON AND ON AND SAID--THEN WENT THE LAYERS OF COVERS AND THEN TOOK OFF 4 LAYERS OF COVERS OFF AND EXAGGERATED AND WALKED BACK AND FORTH ON THE STAGE, SHE WAS USING WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN HER PERSONAL LIFE TO BECOME A NARRATIVE. [INDISTINCT] ANOTHER STORY, A PERSON WAS TELLING ABOUT THEIR DEAF FATHER, AND WHO BUILT THE SAN FRANCISCO BRIDGE. HE MAY TELL THE STORY TO A BOY AT THE DINING TABLE, AND THE BOY WILL WATCH THAT STORY, AND WHEN LATER HE GROWS UP, HE MAY DEVELOP THAT STORY TO BECOME A MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE AND USE MORE DRAMATIC HAND CONFIGURATIONS AND SAY--AND EXPRESS HIMSELF LARGER AND MAKE THE STORY MORE DEVELOPED. SO, IN THAT WAY, HE'S TAKING A PERSONAL STORY AND MAKING IT INTO A MORE FORMAL NARRATIVE. SECOND IS VERY COMMONLY OCCURRING IN THE DEAF CULTURE IS WHEN MY MOTHER TOLD ME DEAF STORIES, AND THEN THAT STORY WAS A PARAPHRASE OF A WRITTEN STORY, MEANING SHE'LL TELL A STORY-- SHE'LL READ A STORY, GET THE IDEA IN HER HEAD, NOT DO A FORMAL TRANSLATION OF IT, NO. THAT'D BE A DIFFERENT PROCESS. THAT'D BE A VERY DIFFERENT PROCESS. YOU WOULD NOT TRANSLATE IT. MY MOTHER NEVER DID THAT, I DON'T THINK. BUT SHE PARAPHRASED THE STORY. SHE READ THE STORY, AND THEN LATER TOLD IT IN HER OWN SIGNS IN ASL. AND FROM THAT WAY, I STARTED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE STORY IN THE BOOK MEANT. THE SAME AS-- PATRICK ABEL YESTERDAY TOLD THE STORY OF THE BLACK CAT. THEY HEARD THE MEOW, AND THE RED BRICKS, AND THERE WAS A POUNDING BEYOND THE RED BRICKS. THAT WAS--DID THAT FOLLOW EXACTLY WHAT EDGAR ALLAN POE HAD WRITTEN LINE BY LINE, A FORMAL TRANSLATION OF THAT? NO, PATRICK HAD GOTTEN THE IDEA FROM THAT STORY AND THEN TOLD IT IN HIS OWN SIGNS. THAT COMMONLY OCCURS IN LITERATURE IN THE ORAL TRADITION AND IN PERFORMING. ADAPTED STORIES NOT OFTEN OCCUR BUT THEY DO COME UP ONCE IN A WHILE. IT'S NOT GENERALLY PERFORMED ON A STAGE, BUT IN THE HOME WHERE PEOPLE ARE TALKING WITH EACH OTHER, TELLING STORIES. AN ADAPTED STORY IS A HEAR--HAS A HEARING CHARACTER IN IT ORIGINALLY. FOR EXAMPLE, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. YOU KNOW THE STORY ABOUT THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE WOLF AND THEY HUFF AND THEY PUFF AND THEY BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN? WELL, THE THREE LITTLE PIG HAS BEEN ADAPTED TO BECOME STORY ABOUT DEAF PEOPLE, AND THE WOLF IS--IS HEARING AND HE'S TRYING TO SAY, "YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH," AND THEN THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AT THE END GET THE BEST OF HIM. AND THE SECOND LITTLE PIG WHO BUILDS A HOUSE OF--OF WOOD, AND HE THINKS IT'S GOOD ENOUGH, AND--AND THE WOLF RUNS AND--AND BLOWS IT DOWN, BUT THE ONE PIG WHO TAKES GOOD CARE AND BUILDS THE HOUSE VERY CAREFULLY, THE WOLF CANNOT GET IN, AND WHEN HE FINALLY GETS-- CLIMBS DOWN THE CHIMNEY AND GETS BOILED IN THE POT, THEN THE PIG HAS GOTTEN THE BEST OF HIM AND--AND HE'S WON IN THE END, AND THAT'S BEEN ADAPTED TO THE DEAF CULTURE, AND DEAF PEOPLE FIND IT REALLY AMUSING WHEN THEY SEE THEIR OWN CULTURE BECOME ALIVE IN A STORY LIKE THIS. SO, OFTEN, IT'S VERY SPONTANEOUS HOW PEOPLE DEVELOPED ADAPTED STORIES. I DON'T--I HAVEN'T DONE TOO MUCH OF THIS MYSELF. MAYBE YOU HAVE MORE EXPERIENCE THAN MYSELF. ORIGINAL STORIES ARE INVENTED. THEY'RE NOT TAKEN FROM ANY FORMAL LITERATURE BUT FROM YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, AND--AND ORIGINALLY COME-- ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN ASL AS A STORY. YOU KNOW, THE STORY, PERHAPS, WHERE A PERSON IS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR, LIKE DEBBIE'S STORY WITH THE WITCH. SHE HAD THAT CHARACTER. SHE HAD THAT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. BUT--BUT IT REALLY BECAME AN ORIGINAL STORY ITSELF THE WAY SHE ADAPTED IT. AND SHE USED IT FOR THE PURPOSE OF TEACHING HEARING PEOPLE ABOUT DEAFNESS AND ABOUT HOW DEAF PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO HEAR THE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR. IT'S A VERY CLEAR IMAGE. ANOTHER--BEN BER--BERNEEN. BEREEN. I FORGET THE TITLE OF THE STORY, BUT HE HAD A STORY ABOUT A MOTHER AND A WITCH, AND THE DAUGHTER-- THE LITTLE--A LITTLE DUCK WAS BORN, AND THE UGLY DUCKLING, AND A STORY ABOUT A DUCK WITH A LONG BEAK AND A VERY SHORT BEAK, AND SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH THE ONE WITH THE VERY SHORT BEAK, SO, THEY PUT IT OFF IN A SCHOOL, A HANDICAPPED SCHOOL, BECAUSE HE HAD KIND OF A BENT BEAK AND THEY WANTED TO MAKE THEIR BEAKS BECOME MUCH SMALLER. AND WITH THEIR--WITH THEIR WINGS, THEY TRIED TO-- THEY TRIED TO GET FREE, AND THEY TRIED TO-- WORKED VERY HARD AT PRACTICING TO MAKE THEIR BEAKS SMALLER. THEY DID HAVE AN OPERATION TO MAKE THE BEAKS SMALLER, BUT THEY DIDN'T WANT TO DO SUCH A-- TAKE SUCH A DRASTIC MEASURE, SO, THEY TRIED TO MAKE IT SMALLER BY ITSELF. SO, THEY SANG AND THEY PECKED AT WOOD TO MAKE THE BEAK GET SMALLER, AND THEN THE--THE ONE BIRD WITH THE--WITH THE LONG BEAK WOULD MAKE FUN OF THAT ONE WHO WAS TRYING TO MAKE HIS BEAK CONFORM, AND ALL THE DIFFERENT ANIMALS WOULD MAKE FUN OF IT, AND--AND THE RABBIT WOULD FEEL BAD. [LAUGHTER] AND THEN LAUGH AT THEM, LAUGH AT HIM, AND HE SUFFERED SO MUCH, AND THE POOR, LITTLE BIRD WITH THE LONG BEAK AND THE WINGS WOULD TRY TO FOLLOW THE BIRDS-- THE OTHER BIRDS, BUT HE COULDN'T, AND FINALLY, HE HAD AN OPERATION TO MAKE HIS BEAK CONFORM LIKE THE OTHERS. BUT HE STILL FELT LIKE HE DIDN'T BELONG. SO, THERE'S A MORAL IN THAT STORY, AND I'M SURE YOU ALL KNOW WHAT'S BEHIND THAT. BUT THAT STORY IS VERY ACTIVE, FULL OF ACTION THAT'S BEEN-- THAT'S BEEN CHANGED AND CREATED TO MAKE IT A--A FORMAL STORY, TO MAKE IT A PART OF DEAF LITERATURE. THIS--DOES ANYBODY HAVE A QUESTION? I'M CURIOUS--DO YOU HAVE A VIDEOTAPE OF ANY OF THOSE STORIES? NO. I'M SORRY. WE HAVE SHORT, LITTLE SEGMENTS. THEY'RE IN THE DEAF HISTORY VIDEOTAPE. BEN--THAT'S A STORY FROM BEN VEREEN, THE STORY ABOUT THE LITTLE BIRDS. IT'S A 20-MINUTE PIECE. HE REALLY GOES INTO AND TELLS IT FROM THE BEGINNING TO END. IT'S A WONDERFUL STORY. OK, AND NOW, AS A POET, I WAS REALLY INVOLVED IN THE DEAF CULTURE AND DEAF COMMUNITY AND THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. AND THEN ONE SUMMER, WHEN I WAS 14 YEARS OLD, I WENT--I WAS IN THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, AND BERNARD BRAGG AND VELEZ AND A FEW OTHER OF THE PEOPLE FROM NTD WERE TEACHING. THEY WERE TEACHING CREATIVE-- USE OF CREATIVE LANGUAGE OR WHATEVER. I FORGET THE TITLE. IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO. THE TITLE WAS IN ENGLISH. PREVIOUS TO THAT, WHEN I WAS 11 YEARS OLD, I HAD SEEN THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF. THEY HAD COME TO OUR TOWN, AND THAT WAS A TIME WHEN PEOPLE WERE JUST BEGINNING TO BECOME AWARE OF ALL OF THESE FAMOUS PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF. AND I WAS SO FASCINATED WITH THE GROUP OF PERFORMANCES THEY DID THAT WERE RELATED TO POETRY. THEY HAD SKITS, ALSO, BUT I WAS REALLY FASCINATED WITH THE POETRY. BRAGG TOLD A POEM CALLED "TIGER, TIGER," AND THAT'S BY BLAKE. THAT'S A POEM WRITTEN BY A FAMOUS ENGLISH POET NAMED BLAKE. NOW, WHEN I WENT HOME, I TOOK SOME OF BRAGG'S LINES AND TRIED TO COPY HIS STYLE, AND I'LL GIVE YOU A FEW LINES FROM IT, AND THE INTERPRETER WILL NOT BE VOICING THIS BECAUSE SHE HAS NO IDEA OF THE WORDS. YOU KNOW? DO YOU KNOW HOW BERNARD BRAGG DID THAT? AND ANOTHER ONE THAT URSULA BELLUGI DID. BEAUTIFUL. "HOW DO I LOVE THEE?" BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. SOMETHING LIKE THAT. AND IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL, AND THEN THE OTHER PERSON-- JOE VELEZ-- HE PERFORMED "JABBERWOCKY." THIS WAS WRITTEN BY LEWIS CARROLL. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] YOU KNOW. THAT'S A SEGMENT FROM "JABBER"--"JABBERWOCKY." I WAS SO FASCINATED WITH ALL OF THESE PERFORMERS AND THEIR EXPERTISE THAT I TRIED TO COPY THEM, AND I BECAME INVOLVED IN-- I BECAME REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE IDEA OF COMBINING SIGN LANGUAGE AND THEATER. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT I CARRIED THAT AROUND WITH ME, BUT WHEN I WAS AGE 14, I WAS AT SCHOOL, AND BERNARD BRAGG CAME AND VELEZ CAME, AND THEY WERE SIGNING, THEY WERE TRYING TO TEACH US HOW TO SIGN IN A POETIC WAY. I WAS REALLY ENJOYING THAT SUMMER CAMP, AND WE ALSO AT THAT TIME WERE WRITING POEMS, TOO, AND WE WERE SHARING THEM WITH THE OTHERS IN OUR GROUP. DOES THE LIGHT-- DOES THAT BOTHER YOU, THE PURPLE COLOR OF MY BLAZER? GOOD. THAT POEM, ENTITLED "FUCHSIAS." I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HAVE THEM HERE, BUT IT'S A KIND OF FLOWER, AND IT DANGLES, IT HANGS, AND IT HAS LITTLE LOOPS AND--AND THE STEMS, AND THE LITTLE ORANGE PISTONS IN THE MIDDLE AND--AND THE WHITE IN THE MIDDLE. IT'S VERY BEAUTIFUL. IN MY HOME, THERE'S SO MANY OF THIS KIND OF FLOWER, AND THEY'RE ALWAYS DANGLING, LOOKING SO LOVELY, AND I DECIDED TO WRITE A POEM ABOUT THAT. AND I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY SWEET. I PUT IT DOWN ON PAPER. AND IT WAS PUBLISHED ON THE FRONT COVER OF THE SCHOOL MAGAZINE WITH A PICTURE OF FUCHSIAS. MUCH LATER, I DECIDED TO TRANSLATE THAT TO SIGN LANGUAGE. AND I'LL SIGN IT FOR YOU NOW. AS I LOOK DEEPLY IN THE EARLY MORNING ONTO THE LOVELY FUCHSIAS STILL WET WITH THE NIGHT'S DEW, WHIRLING, WHIRLING WITH THE WIND, THEY REMIND ME OF MY LOVELY VISION OF A BUDDING BALLERINA, WHIRLING WITH THE MUSIC. [APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. SO, THAT WAS VERY SWEET, AND THEN AFTER THAT PERIOD, I ENTERED HIGH SCHOOL, AND...THERE WAS ONE TEACHER THAT WAS FROM THE SAME SCHOOL THAT I HAD BEEN IN BEFORE, AND HE WAS VERY MUCH AN INFLUENCE ON ME, NAMED JOE VELEZ. HE LOVED TO SIGN AND HE WAS A VERY ROMANTIC SIGNER. HE WROTE A LOT OF POETRY, BOTH IN SIGN AND ASL, AND HE WAS ALSO A DRAMATIST, TOO. OF COURSE, I WAS SO FASCINATED WITH LANGUAGE AND DRAMA THAT I THOUGHT THE COMBINATION WAS PERFECT FOR ME AND MY INTEREST BUILT. HE TAUGHT ME SO HARD AND--AND CRITICIZED ME AND WAS A REAL INSPIRATION. AND I TOOK A CLASS. IN FACT, MOST OF MY CLASSES WERE TAKEN UNDER HIM AS A TEACHER, AND HE WAS SO-- SUCH A DEDICATED TEACHER. I WAS REALLY IMPRESSED. I AM VERY, VERY GRATEFUL TO MR. VELEZ. I WROTE ONE POEM WHEN I WAS WITH HIM CALLED "MY TRAVELS WITH MOUNTS." AND I HAVE THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION THAT THE INTERPRETER WILL READ. THIS IS--THE NAME OF THIS TEACHER THAT WAS SUCH AN INFLUENCE FOR ME IS NAMED ERIC MALZKUHN. EVERY DAY I GO TO THE HUMBLE BUT FRESH SHIP... AND I FASTEN MYSELF TO THE SPACE SEAT WHICH YOU PROVIDE, AND YOU GO TO YOUR SWITCHBOARD WITH ITS FLASHING LIGHTS, AND THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS-- 3, 2, 1. BLAST OFF! OFF WE GO AND WAY OUT OF THE WORLD'S LIMITS. INTO THE DEEP SPACE WE STORE--SOAR, FOLLOWING THE WILD, SHOOTING STARS, AS FREE AS YOUR IMAGINATION. THRILLED, I SIT THERE, SOMETIMES TURNING. YOUR SHIP TOPSY-TURVY AS I TRY TO HELP. 26-LETTERED WORDS. COME AND GO. AS WE DANCE THROUGH SPACE. DON'T WORRY-- MOST OF THEM REMAIN, BECAUSE YOU FISH ME IN, [INDISTINCT] ME. WE'VE LANDED ON A RICH PLANET OF BOOKS. YOU FILL MY ARMS WITH BOOKS AND LOAD YOUR SHIP, TOO. IT IS A DOUBT WE NEVER RETURN. HUFFING AND PUFFING, WE [INDISTINCT] INTO THE SPACE ONCE MORE. AGAIN, WE FOLLOW THE PATH OF THE ZIGZAGGING STARS AND SAFELY RETURN HOME, WITH ME DAZZLED WITH EXCITEMENT IN [INDISTINCT]. YOU SEE HOW I WROTE THE STAND AS I USED SPACE, TO SHOW THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MY IDEAS. ASL CAN ALSO USE-- CAN ALSO USE SPACE IN THAT WAY. I HADN'T KNOWN IT AT THE TIME, BUT I STARTED TO REALIZE THAT-- THAT THE WAY I WROTE THINGS DOWN ON PAPER CORRELATED WITH THE WAYS I THOUGHT OF IT IN SIGN. OCEAN HUGE AND BLUE SPREADS OUT IN SPACE, RIPPLES GETTING BIGGER AND BIGGER, WAVES BIGGER AND BIGGER, SPLASHING ITS HANDS UPON AN OLD ROCK RISING UP AND UP. ON TOP, A TREE, OLD AND CROOKED, WATCHES AND MUSES UPON THE OCEAN. BOTH CONFLICT, YET BOTH BLEND. OK, NOW, YOU SEE THE WAY THE STANZAS ARE SITUATED UPON THE PAGE-- ONE INDICATING THE OCEAN... AND HOW IT'S ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE PAGE, WASHING UP ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PAGE AGAINST THE OLD ROCK, AND HOW... NOW YOU SEE HOW YOU HAVE TO READ FROM SIDE TO SIDE AND YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHICH WAY YOU WANT TO READ IT. AT FIRST, I HAD--I PLAYED WITH DIFFERENT WAYS TO WRITE IT, BUT I THOUGHT IT DIDN'T WORK ON PAPER. NEXT, I TRIED A SIMILAR IDEA, BUT IN A DIFFERENT WAY. THIS IS ENTITLED "OH!" THIS IS CALLED "LOVE SONG." LOVE SONG SIGNED. "OH!" YOU SEE HOW "OH!"S ARE WRITTEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE PAPER? I USE SIMULTANEOUS MOVEMENT OF MY HANDS ON EITHER SIDE OF MY BODY. AND IN THE MIDDLE, MY HEART BEATS IN THE MIDDLE OF MY-- OF THE SIGNING SPACE, AS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAGE. FOR YOU AND I LOVE YOU MUCH, MUCH, MUCH. IT'S KIND OF A BIT MUCH, A LITTLE BIT SICKLY SWEET, BUT-- AND THEN I HAVE PART TWO. YOU ARE LIKE THE GENTLE RAIN THAT FALLS ON MY FACE. YOU ARE LIKE THE SUN THAT SHINES WARMLY ON MY FACE. AND BOTH ARE COMING FROM EITHER DIRECTION. DID YOU HAVE A QUESTION?
Notes: 
"This project is supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation."