Detail View: RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive: My poems in native and second languages

Filename: 
ds_0027_graybilllectureperformance_cap_01.mp4
Identifier: 
ds_0027_graybilllectureperformance_cap_01.mp4
Title: 
My poems in native and second languages
Creator: 
Graybill, Patrick
Subject: 
Deaf Poetry
Subject: 
American Sign Language
Subject: 
American poetry 20th century
Subject: 
Deaf, Writings of the, American
Subject: 
ASL poetry
Summary: 
Graybill shares his personal history relating to family, education, and community experiences growing up with English and ASL. He performs examples of translated poetry (from English to ASL: Not Waving But Drowning and Richard Cory) including his own compositions in English (Deaf Pride). He provides examples of poetic signing and use of metaphor by Deaf community members. In addition, he performs the first poem he created in ASL (Surprise). He also discusses the context and enacts excerpts from his National Theatre of the Deaf performance "On the Harmfulness of Tobacco."
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: 
82 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=b3954534
Catalog Record: 
https://twcarchivesspace.rit.edu/repositories/2/resources/816
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: 
[APPLAUSE] - I'M GONNA GET UP NOW. - OK. - DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE THERE? - YEAH. THANKS. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I'VE BEEN WATCHING AND WATCHING AND WATCHING THE CLOCK UNTIL IT WAS 1:00, AND FINALLY HERE I AM, STANDING. NOW, THIS MORNING, I WATCHED THE LECTURE PRESENTED BY PETER COOK, AND, OH, I CAN'T DESCRIBE HOW I FELT FROM THAT. I'M NOT SURE MY PERFORMANCE CAN QUITE EQUAL HIS. I LIKE TO DO IT WITH A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE LIKE PETER COOK DID. MY STORY, ALL OF MY BACKGROUND LEADING UP TO THIS MOMENT, PRESENTS MYSELF AS I AM NOW, JUST AS HIS DID. I'D LIKE TO START WITH AN OVERHEAD. CAN EVERYBODY SEE THIS ALL RIGHT? ALL RIGHT? EVERYBODY READ IT? I'D LIKE TO SIGN THIS POEM FOR YOU. NOBODY HEARD HIM, THE DEAD MAN, BUT STILL HE LAY MOANING. "I WAS MUCH FARTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT AND NOT WAVING, BUT DROWNING." POOR CHAP. HE ALWAYS LOVED LARKING, AND NOW HE'S DEAD. "MUST HAVE BEEN TOO COLD FOR HIM, AND HIS HEART GAVE WAY," THEY SAID. "OH, NO. NO, NO. IT WAS TOO COLD ALWAYS." STILL, THE DEAD ONE LAY MOANING. "I WAS MUCH TOO FAR OUT ALL MY LIFE AND NOT WAVING, BUT DROWNING." [APPLAUSE] FINE. FINE. NOW, YOU NOTICE AS I JUST SIGNED THIS POEM, I WONDER IF THERE WAS ANYTHING THAT YOU PARTICULARLY REMARKED ABOUT THE WAY I SIGN THIS. WHAT DID YOU JUST NOTICE? OK, NOTICE THAT I SIGN THIS, AND I USE A LITTLE BODY SHIFT. OK, THAT'S ONE THING. SEEING THAT THERE WERE 2 DIFFERENT MOODS CONVEYED. ALL RIGHT. ANYTHING ELSE? SAID IT WAS CLOSE TO ENGLISH. OK. THAT'S WHAT I NOTICE, TOO. THAT'S ONE THING THAT I NOTICED ABOUT THE WAY I DID THIS. IT'S ALMOST WORD-FOR-WORD ENGLISH. IT FOLLOWS IT VERY CLOSELY. AND THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN INTERNAL CONFLICT WITH ME AS I'VE GROWN OVER THE YEARS. NOW, I AM A DEAF GENTLEMAN, AND I'VE ALWAYS HAD THIS CONFLICT INSIDE. SHOULD I SIGN CLOSER TO ENGLISH? I ALWAYS USED ASL AS I GREW UP. AND THESE TWO WARRING FACTIONS HAVE CONTINUED TO THIS DAY, AND THAT'S WHAT I'D LIKE TO SPEAK ABOUT TODAY... THIS TURMOIL INSIDE OF ME. PLUS, WHAT'S THE MEANING OF POETRY? I'M NOT SURE I EVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD IT, BUT MY UNDERSTANDING HAS GROWN AND CHANGED AND EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS UNTIL IT'S ARRIVED WHERE I AM TODAY. NOW, PETER COOK'S PRESENTATION THIS MORNING--I RELATED TO THAT. I THOUGHT, "YES, THAT'S RIGHT. THAT'S IT." AFTERWARDS, I WENT AND I THOUGHT AND RUMINATED ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT I'D SEEN, AND I HAD ALL THESE IDEAS THAT WERE THE SAME. I FELT THAT WE REALLY MATCHED. NOW, THAT OVERHEAD THAT I JUST SHOWED, THAT WAS SHOWN BEFORE ABOUT THE MEETING OF PANARA AND ALLEN GINSBERG, I PLANNED TO USE THAT IN MY PRESENTATION. I THOUGHT, "HMM, WHAT AM I GONNA DO NOW?" AND THEN PETER COOK PUT THAT IN HIS. AND I THOUGHT, "I PLANNED TO USE THAT IN MY PRESENTATION. NOW WHAT AM I GONNA DO?" WELL, IT DOESN'T MATTER THEY STOLE MY THUNDER. IT SEEMS THAT INSIDE, INSIDE OF ME, I STILL HAVE A YEARNING, I STILL HAVE THINGS THAT I WANT TO SAY THIS AFTERNOON. I STILL WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS INTERNAL CONFLICT. I STILL WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE MEANING OF POETRY AND HOW I'VE BEEN INFLUENCED BY ALL THE DIFFERENT PEOPLE AROUND ME IN THIS NEW FACTION OF SIGN LANGUAGE RESEARCH, ALL THE FINDINGS THAT HAVE COME UP, ALSO MY INSTITUTE UPBRINGING AT THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, HOW THAT FORMED MY CHARACTER, HOW MY FAMILY INFLUENCED ME OVER THE YEARS, AND GALLAUDET COLLEGE, OF COURSE. ALSO, I WAS INVOLVED WITH NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, AND THAT WAS ANOTHER LAYER. I SEEM TO HAVE BEEN AWASH WITH NEW IDEAS AND INFLUENCE, AND THAT CONTINUES. NOW, I WANT YOU TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THAT IF YOU CARE TO INTERRUPT ME AT ANY TIME DURING MY LECTURE, I WILL REALLY URGE YOU TO DO THAT. I WON'T COMPLAIN, AND I WON'T OBJECT BECAUSE I THINK THAT THAT'S A STRONG CHARACTERISTIC OF DEAF CULTURE. IF I SEE YOU WITH QUIZZICAL EXPRESSIONS, I'D WANT A DISCUSSION TO ENSUE. MAYBE IF I WANT YOU TO HOLD IT, I'LL SAY THAT, AND I'LL ANSWER THE QUESTION LATER. ALL RIGHT? YOU ALL AGREE? BECAUSE I THINK I CAN SCAN ALL YOU, AND I CAN SEE YOU QUITE WELL FROM HERE. OK? OK, GREAT. I'D LIKE MY LECTURE TO BEGIN. MAYBE MANY OF YOU KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME, BUT I DOUBT IT. I THINK MAYBE THAT'S IN THE SMALLER CATEGORY, A FEW PEOPLE. I WAS BORN IN KANSAS. IT WAS A FAMILY OF 7 CHILDREN, 5 OF WHOM WERE DEAF AND 2 WERE HEARING, THE 2 BEING THE 3rd AND THE 5th RESPECTIVELY-- THE HEARING SANDWICH BETWEEN THE 2nd AND THE 4th AND THE 5th. I WAS THE 4th CHILD BORN. THE LAST 2 WERE DEAF. NOW, MY PARENTS WERE HEARING. WHAT WERE THEY TO DO? THEY DIDN'T REALLY KNOW. THEY'RE NOT SURE WHY IT HAPPENED. THEY THINK THAT PERHAPS IT WAS IN THE GENES, THAT WAY, WAY BACK THERE WAS SOME DEAFNESS IN THE FAMILY, BUT THERE'S NO PROOF. MY OLDEST SISTER REMEMBERED THAT WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL... SHE'D SEEN A RELATIVE WHO SEEMED TO NOT BE ABLE TO TALK. SHE ASKED RELATIVES ABOUT IT, AND THEY SAID, "NO, NO. THAT PERSON CAN HEAR BUT CAN'T TALK. IT'S A MUTE." SO, THAT'S ONE CLUE THAT WE HAD TO THE MYSTERY. PERHAPS IT'S JUST THAT WE WEREN'T ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT SUCH THINGS IN THE FAMILY, AND THEY DIDN'T WANT ANY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF DEAFNESS TO EXIST. MAYBE MY PARENTS HAD INCOMPATIBLE GENES. MAYBE THERE WERE 2 RECESSIVE ONES THAT RESULTED IN THE BIRTH OF 5 DEAF CHILDREN. WE REALLY DON'T HAVE ANY SUBSTANTIAL PROOF. BUT IT'S REAL INTERESTING. IF YOU FEEL THAT I WAS BORN-- THAT I WAS DISAPPOINTED TO BE BORN INTO A FAMILY WITH THIS SORT OF CONSTELLATION, YOU WOULD BE VERY WRONG. IT WAS GREAT TO HAVE SIBLINGS THAT WERE DEAF. WE JUST SIGNED AWAY. NOW, MY PARENTS AND MY 2 HEARING SISTERS HAD THEIR OWN LITTLE CLIQUE BECAUSE THEY COULD TALK, AS IF THERE WERE 2 LANGUAGES AND 2 DIFFERENT CULTURES IN THE HOUSE, BUT THEY SEEMED TO BE RUNNING PARALLEL COURSES. I'M NOT SURE I COULD CALL MYSELF BICULTURAL. AND THE REASON BEING THAT I NEVER REALLY ASSIMILATED ALONG THE SIMILAR TRACK AS MY PARENTS AND MY HEARING SISTERS. WE SEEMED TO SUBSIST IN THE SAME HOUSEHOLD, BUT NOT HAVE MUCH SPILLOVER. WE'D BE SIGNING AWAY WITH MY DEAF SIBLINGS, AND THEN MY PARENTS AND MY SISTERS WOULD SIGN ENGLISH. MY MOTHER'S HEARING, BUT SHE'D BEEN A SCHOOLTEACHER BEFORE SHE WAS MARRIED AND HAD ALL HER CHILDREN. SHE LEARNED SIGN LANGUAGE FROM US KIDS. BUT OF COURSE, SHE WAS ALWAYS THINKING ENGLISH. AND, OF COURSE, HER LANGUAGE MATCHED-- HER LANGUAGE HAD TO HAVE HER SIGNS MATCH IT. I COULD FOLLOW HER FINE. AS FOR MY FATHER... WELL, AS WITH ALL FATHERS, PERHAPS, HE DIDN'T FEEL HE COULD SIGN WITH HIS CHILDREN. HE KNEW ABOUT 6 SIGNS. THAT WAS THE EXTENT OF HIS SIGNING COMPLEMENT. AND THE 6 SIGNS WERE... FATHER--OOPS! I MADE A MISTAKE. "MOTHER WANTS YOU." [LAUGHTER] AND THE REASON WHY THOSE WERE THE FIRST 3 SIGNS IN HIS VOCABULARY? WELL, IT'S EASY. FATHER WOULD DECIDE THAT HE NEEDED TO TALK WITH ME, TO PATRICK, SO HE WOULD SAY SOMETHING TO MOTHER IN THE OTHER ROOM AND YELL TO HER, AND THEN HE'D SAY, "MOTHER WANTS YOU," AND THEN I'D RUN TO WHEREVER MOTHER WAS. AND THEN SHE WOULD EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT FATHER HAD JUST SAID. "OH, I SEE." AND THAT'S HOW I GOT THE COMMUNICATION WITH MY FATHER WITH THOSE 3 WORDS-- "MOTHER WANTS YOU." THE 4th SIGN... I BET YOU COULD PROBABLY GUESS. ANY GUESSES? NO. "NO" IS NOT A GOOD ONE, 'CAUSE HE COULD JUST SHAKE HIS HEAD AND DO THAT AND I'D UNDERSTAND FINE. "I LOVE YOU"? NO. "BED"? UM-MMM. "WORK. WORK." [LAUGHTER] "WORK." "WORK" WAS THE ONE. AND THE 5th ONE WAS "EAT." DINNERTIME! EAT, EAT, EAT. THE 6th SIGN WAS "DOG." MEAN, IT'S TIME TO FEED THE DOG. MAYBE THERE WERE MORE, BUT I REALLY CAN'T REMEMBER. THOSE ARE THE 6 THAT REALLY IMPRESSED UPON MY MEMORY. AND THAT WAS MY FAMILY. SO, MY MOTHER SIGNED PRETTY WELL, AND THAT REALLY INFLUENCED ME A LOT, AS I'LL LATER EXPLAIN. ALL MY SISTERS, OF COURSE, EXPLAINED TO ME-- INFLUENCED ME A LOT, TOO. WHEN I WAS ABOUT 4 OR 5 YEARS OLD, I WENT TO THE KANSAS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. I WENT TO SEE MY SISTERS IN A SCHOOL PLAY THERE, AND I SAT WAY UP IN THE FRONT ROW WITH THE REST OF THE CLASS IN THE INSTITUTE. I THINK IT WAS A SOPHOMORE CLASS, AND THEY WERE PUTTING ON A PLAY. AND THEY WERE PUTTING ON "HUCKLEBERRY FINN." MY SISTER'S CLASS WAS ALMOST ALL GIRLS. THERE WEREN'T ENOUGH BOYS IN IT. SOME OF THE GIRLS WERE FORCED TO TAKE ON ROLES OF MEN IN THE PERFORMANCE. SO, THEY HAD ALL THIS BLACKFACE ON, BLACK MAKEUP. I STILL HAVE THIS VERY STRONG PICTURE IN MY MIND OF MY SISTER UP ON STAGE ACTING WITH TOM AND HUCK ON THE STAGE AT THE SAME TIME, AND THEY WERE HIDING UNDER A BED, LYING IN WAIT. AND I WATCHED, AND I WAS SO IMPRESSED. I WAS SO EXCITED. AND I WENT HOME, AND I WAS TALKING TO MY OTHER TWO SISTERS AND MY MOTHER, AND I WAS TELLING THEM ABOUT THIS DEAF PERFORMANCE. I WAS TRYING TO EXPLAIN IT. I THOUGHT I SHOULD TRY TO DIRECT THEM, AND WE COULD PUT ON A PLAY, TOO. AND WE COULD ASK ALL OUR FRIENDS TO COME AND PAY ADMISSION, LIKE MAYBE 10 CENTS OR SOMETHING, AND THEY COULD COME AND WATCH US ACT, TOO. AND I ALREADY HAD THIS THEATER BUG IN ME FROM WAY BACK THEN FROM THAT PERFORMANCE AT THE INSTITUTE. WHEN I WAS 5 YEARS OLD, I FINALLY WAS ABLE TO GO TO THE KANSAS STATE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF MYSELF, 'CAUSE I WAS TOO YOUNG TO GO BACK WHEN I'D SEEN MY SISTERS PERFORM. THERE WERE MANY POSITIVE INFLUENCES THERE. BUT AS I'VE ANALYZED IT OVER THE YEARS AND LOOKED BACK UPON THESE EXPERIENCES, I'VE IDENTIFIED SEVERAL FACTORS THAT WERE POSITIVE. I WAS TALKING TO ELLA ABOUT THAT, AND AS I THOUGHT ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS, I HAVE A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING NOW ABOUT WHY I'M THE WAY I AM, AND I SEE THAT THOSE INSTITUTE DAYS, WHEN I WENT IN, I LEARNED A LOT. I LEARNED THE MOST, I THINK, FROM THE DORM RATHER THAN THE CLASSROOM. WHICH WOULD YOU SUSPECT? THE DORM IS RIGHT, IF YOU AGREED WITH ME, YES. AND THE REASONS BEING THAT I LEARNED SO MUCH THERE WAS BECAUSE, OF COURSE, THERE WE COULD USE OUR NATIVE LANGUAGE OF ASL. AND WE CHATTED AWAY A STORM WITH EACH OTHER AND HAD A GREAT SOCIAL LIFE. I LEARNED SO MUCH THERE. LEARNED ABOUT SEX THERE, TOLD STORIES THERE. OH, IT WAS SUCH AN ENJOYABLE TIME. IT WAS A LOT OF FUN! OUR SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROVED FROM THAT ENVIRONMENT. OUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS DEVELOPED THERE FROM THE DORM LIFE. OUR ATHLETIC ABILITIES-- THAT'S WHERE THEY STARTED. IT WAS SUCH AN EXCITING PLACE TO BE. OH, THE MISCHIEVOUS THINGS WE'D GET INTO AT NIGHT. THAT WAS THERE, TOO. AND ALSO, WE HAD A LITERARY SOCIETY, AND THAT SPRANG FROM THE DORMS. IT SEEMS TO BE GONE FROM INSTITUTES NOWADAYS, BUT BACK THEN, IT WAS SUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF LIFE IN THE DORMS FOR ME. NOW, I HAPPEN TO LOVE TO READ AND WRITE. REMEMBER, MY MOTHER INFLUENCED ME BECAUSE SHE'D BEEN A TEACHER, AND SHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO READ AND WRITE. I LEARNED THAT FROM HER. SO, I WAS VERY EXCITED TO GO AND SEE ALL THESE PLAYS, WITH ALL THE AUDIENCE OF THE INSTITUTE SITTING AND WATCHING THE STAGE. ALL THE DIFFERENT CLASSES WOULD TAKE TURNS MONTHLY PRESENTING MAYBE POETRY OR MAYBE STORYTELLING. SOMETIMES THERE'D BE NEWS, WEEKLY NEWS EVENTS PORTRAYED, BUT THE BEST OF ALL WAS WHEN THE DEAF TEACHERS THEMSELVES WOULD COME UP ON THE STAGE, AND THEY WOULD DO STORYTELLING. OR SOMETIMES THEY WOULD SIGN POETRY. AND I SAT--I REMEMBERED SITTING THERE AND WATCHING THOSE TEACHERS PERFORM AND SEEING ALL THOSE DIFFERENT STORIES TOLD, BUT THERE'S ONE THAT STANDS OUT IN MY MIND SO STRONGLY. IT WASN'T EVEN A FULL STORY, BUT THE PICTURE THAT WAS PORTRAYED JUST SENT A SHOCKWAVE THROUGH MY BODY. IT WAS A WOMAN TEACHER. AND SHE HAD GRADUATED FROM GALLAUDET COLLEGE BEFORE AND ALSO HAD GROWN UP IN KANSAS STATE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. STOOD ON THE STAGE-- NOW, THAT WOMAN, I SUSPECT LONG BEFORE HAD PROBABLY HAD A LONG LINEAGE OF DEAFNESS PASSED DOWN TO HER THROUGH HER FAMILY. SHE'D GONE TO GALLAUDET COLLEGE, AND I THINK SHE HAD A GREAT SENSE OF PRIDE. SHE SIGNED A FAMOUS AMERICAN SONG, OF COURSE, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER." AND SHE'D SIGNED IT IN FRONT OF FOOTBALL GAMES AT HALFTIME. I THINK MAYBE EVEN BEFORE, MAYBE THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME SHE SIGNED IT. "LIFE" MAGAZINE PHOTOGRAPHED HER AND PUT HER PICTURE IN THE MAGAZINE, ON THE VERY FRONT. I THINK IT WAS FROM THE YEAR 1944. I CAN'T REMEMBER THE EXACT MONTH, BUT HER PICTURE WAS EMBLAZONED ON THE FRONT IN THIS POSE OF SIGNING. NOW, OF COURSE, THE ARMY WAS INVOLVED IN WORLD WAR II, AND I'M SURE THEY ALL FELL IN LOVE WITH THAT. PEOPLE SENT--SENT HER LETTERS AND PROPOSED MARRIAGE TO HER BECAUSE OF BEING SO FAR AWAY AND LONESOME. BUT THERE SHE WAS AT NIGHT, STANDING AND TELLING THIS STORY, AND IT WAS CALLED "THE BLACK CAT." IT WAS WRITTEN BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. I SAT IN THAT AUDIENCE AND WATCHED WITH SUCH A SENSE OF EXCITEMENT. I REMEMBER THIS ONE PICTURE PARTICULARLY WELL. AH! A SOUND IS HEARD AND A HIGH SCREECHING NOISE. WHERE'S THAT NOISE COMING FROM? I'M IN THE BASEMENT... SURROUNDED BY WALLS OF RED BRICKS. THE SOUND AGAIN. EEEE EEE EEE! WHAT IS IT? A MAN TAKES UP A PICK... AND STRIKES THE WALL WHERE HE THINKS HE HEARS THE SOUND. THE WALL CRUMBLES SLOWLY, SLOWLY, SLOWLY, BUT THERE'S NOTHING THERE. AH! THE SOUND AGAIN. EEEE EEE! WHERE'S THAT COMING FROM? AND HE STRIKES THE WALL AGAIN AND AGAIN, AND IT CRUMBLES, AND 2 POINTY EARS SHOW BEHIND THE WALL. AND THE WALL CRUMBLES LOWER AS HE HITS THE WALL. 2 GLOWING EYES IN THE DARK. AND THE WALL CRUMBLES LOWER. NOW, LITTLE PATRICK SITTING IN THE WALL THERE, I WASN'T LYING BACK BORED. I WAS ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT LIKE AT THE MOVIES. YOU KNOW, MOVIES BACK THEN DIDN'T HAVE ANY CAPTIONS OR ANYTHING. AND SO I COULDN'T EVEN IMAGINE WHAT WAS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE. THE WALL CRUMBLED LOWER. AH! AND 2 FANGS SHINE IN THE NIGHT. YEEOWW! A LARGE SCREECH, AND THE MAN HACKS AND HACKS WITH THE PICK. AND IT'S A BLACK CAT SITTING ON THE SKULL OF A DEAD MAN HUNG BEHIND THE WALL. NOW, THAT PICTURE HAD ME SCARED WITLESS, I WANT TO TELL YOU, AND IT INDELIBLY IMPRESSED ITSELF ON MY MEMORY. I HAVE THAT PICTURE THERE ALWAYS. I SO ENJOYED IT. AND THAT'S ANOTHER REASON THAT DORM LIFE WAS SO IMPORTANT AND SO EXCITING FOR US. NOW, CONTRAST THIS TO THE CLASSROOM, WHERE WE'D GO IN, AND THE LANGUAGE THAT WE USED IN THE DORM WAS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN THERE. MOST OF THE TEACHERS WERE HEARING, AND THEY COULDN'T UNDERSTAND US WHEN WE USED ASL. SO, OF COURSE, THEY ENCOURAGED US TO SPEAK OR TO SIGN USING ENGLISH. WE HAD TO BE VERY PATIENT AND SUFFER THROUGH THIS. DO YOU ALL REMEMBER THIS, SOME OF YOU? NOW, THE TEACHERS REALLY DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING. THEY DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW TO DEAL WITH US OR TRY TO UNDERSTAND OUR LANGUAGE. THEIR DUTY WAS TO TEACH US ENGLISH AND MATH AND READING AND WRITING-- EVERYTHING USING ENGLISH, OF COURSE. THAT WAS THEIR TASK. I DID PRETTY WELL. I WAS VERY GOOD AT READING AND WRITING AND WAS VERY GOOD AT MEMORIZATION, TOO. SO I DIDN'T HAVE AS MUCH TROUBLE WITH THAT, BUT MOST OF THE CLASS REALLY SUFFERED THROUGH THIS. SOMETIMES IF WE SIGNED, WE'D BE PUNISHED. WE HAD TO PUT ON WHITE MITTS, AND THIS DRAWSTRING WAS PUT BETWEEN THEM AND OUR HANDS WERE TIED TOGETHER. IF THEY CAUGHT US SIGNING, THAT'S WHAT WE HAD TO DO. AND WE COULDN'T SIGN AT ALL. WE HAD TO HAVE OUR HANDS IN FRONT OF US LIKE THAT. NOW, IN THE DORM, WE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM EACH OTHER. AND THEN WE GO INTO THE CLASSROOMS, AND WE WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND. WE COULDN'T EXPLAIN ANYTHING TO EACH OTHER. WE JUST HAD TO TAKE WHATEVER WE COULD GET FROM THE TEACHER, AND THIS WAS WHAT WE HAD TO PUT UP WITH. NOW, I WAS A FAIRLY GOOD STUDENT, AND I SEEMED TO PROGRESS ALONG FINE THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. BUT IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, I FELT LIKE I WAS BEING BRAINWASHED AS TO THE IMPORTANCE OF ENGLISH, AND I REALLY WANTED TO SUCCEED AT ENGLISH TO BE A GOOD PERSON. I LOOK BACK NOW, AND I REALLY REALIZE THAT THAT STRUGGLE HAD NOT YET BEGUN BECAUSE I FELT SUCCESSFUL. I WAS DOING WELL AT ENGLISH, AND I SEEMED TO BE MOVING UP IN THE RANKS. BUT INSIDE, I REALLY WASN'T COMFORTABLE USING ENGLISH, AND THAT TURMOIL WAS BEGINNING TO HAVE THE SEED SPROUTING OF IT. THIS KIND OF CONTINUED. I WAS IN A SCHOOL PLAY, AND I DID SOME ACTING, AND, OF COURSE, I SIGNED BUT USING ENGLISH. LATER, I WENT TO GALLAUDET COLLEGE. AND I REMEMBER THE YEAR 1958 TO 1964 VERY WELL. THOSE WERE MY GALLAUDET YEARS, AND THEY WERE VERY IMPORTANT. IT WAS AN HISTORICAL TIME WHEN I WENT INTO COLLEGE IN THOSE YEARS, AND I WAS VERY, VERY FORTUNATE. WHEN I WENT INTO THAT COLLEGE FOR THE FIRST TIME, I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. THERE WERE 9 TEACHERS, 8 OF WHOM WERE DEAF. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. AND THE ONE HEARING TEACHER COULD SIGN PRETTY DARN WELL. BUT ALL THOSE TEACHERS IN THE INSTITUTE-- YOU KNOW, IT WAS SUCH AN ANOMALY TO HAVE A DEAF ONE, ANYBODY WHO COULD SIGN. BUT 8 OF MY TEACHERS BEING DEAF, I WAS ECSTATIC. I WAS GOING TO LEARN SO MUCH. THE SAME TIME, THEY WERE DEAF AND THEY WERE SIGNING, BUT THEY WERE SIGNING ENGLISH. OF COURSE, I FELT THAT THIS WAS IMPRESSED UPON ME VERY STRONGLY THAT I WOULD HAVE TO MATCH THE ENGLISH SKILLS, TOO, TO BE CONSIDERED A SUCCESS. INSIDE, I FELT LIKE I WANTED TO ESCAPE, I WANTED TO JOIN THE THEATER WHERE I ENJOYED THAT SORT OF ACTIVITY. I REALLY DIDN'T ENJOY AS MUCH IN THE ACADEMIC ARENA, BUT I REALLY, REALLY HAD A GOOD TIME IN THE THEATER. I LIKED ALL THE ADULATION. I LIKED THE PATS ON THE BACK. BUT EVEN IN THE THEATER WORK, WE WEREN'T USING ASL. WE WERE SIGNING ENGLISH. I STILL REMEMBER... LET'S SEE... I WANT TO JUMP AHEAD FOR JUST A SECOND. WHEN I GRADUATED IN MY SENIOR YEAR AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE, THERE WAS A LARGE CONFERENCE OF ALL THE ALUMNI WHO CAME, AND THERE WAS A POETRY COMPETITION. OOH, I WAS REALLY INTERESTED IN THAT. I'D MAKE-- ELLA HAS A LITTLE GRIN ON HER FACE 'CAUSE I THINK SHE PERFORMED THAT, TOO. WE TALKED ABOUT HOW TO TRANSLATE THAT BEFORE, HOW TO DO THAT POEM. "WHAT WAS THAT SIGN YOU JUST SAID?" SOMEBODY ASKED. ELLA. ELLA MAE LENTZ. SHE'S GOT A GREEN COAT ON. OK, YOU READY? READY? OK. THIS IS CALLED "RICHARD COREY." I'LL SIGN "RC" ON THE SHOULDER. THAT'LL BE THE NAME SIGN. REMEMBER, I SIGNED THIS A LONG TIME AGO, ALL RIGHT. THIS IS HOW I DID IT. WHENEVER RICHARD COREY WENT DOWNTOWN, WE PEOPLE ON THE PAVEMENT LOOKED AT HIM. HE WAS A GENTLEMAN FROM SOLE TO CROWN, CLEAN FAVORED AND IMPERIALLY SLIM. AND HE WAS ALWAYS QUIETLY ARRAYED, AND HE WAS ALWAYS HUMAN WHEN HE TALKED. BUT STILL, HE FLUTTERED PULSES WHEN HE SAID "GOOD MORNING," AND HE GLITTERED WHEN HE WALKED. AND HE WAS RICH. OH, YES, RICHER THAN A KING AND ADMIRABLY SCHOOLED IN EVERY GRACE. AND FINE. WE THOUGHT HE WAS... EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING TO MAKE US WISH THAT WE WERE IN HIS PLACE. SO, ON WE WORKED, AND WE WAITED FOR THE LIGHT AND WENT WITHOUT MEAT AND CURSED THE BREAD. AND RICHARD COREY, ONE CALM SUMMER NIGHT, WENT HOME AND PUT A BULLET THROUGH HIS HEAD. AND SIGNING RATHER SLOWLY, YOU MIGHT NOTICE, AND... I WAS TRYING TO FORCE EVERYTHING INTO ENGLISH. I WAS TRYING TO GET SOME SORT OF ASL THINGS IN THERE, BUT... INSIDE, I FELT THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO SHOW THESE ASL THINGS, THESE ASL BEHAVIORS, BUT I WAS TRYING TO SQUEEZE THEM INTO AN ENGLISH FORMAT. WELL, IT SEEMED TO HAVE BEEN ENOUGH BECAUSE I WON FIRST PRIZE AT THAT COMPETITION, WHICH WAS QUITE A DELIGHTFUL EXPERIENCE. NOW, SECOND PRIZE WAS WON BY M.J. BIENVENU'S FATHER. SO, HE WAS SECOND AND RUNNER-UP TO ME. AND THAT MEANS, UH... THAT I WAS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ONE IN THE CLASS, IT SEEMED, THE BEST POET AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE. THERE WAS LOY GOLLADAY AND THERE WAS ROBERT PANARA THERE, BUT SOMEHOW I CAME UP ON TOP OF THAT. BUT STILL I HAD THIS TURMOIL INSIDE, AND I HADN'T READ THAT POEM-- WRITTEN THAT POEM MYSELF. I DID WRITE A POEM THAT I TRIED TO SUBMIT TO A JOURNAL AT THE GALLAUDET COLLEGE, AND THEY DIDN'T ACCEPT IT. THEY SAID, "WELL, THERE'S NO RHYTHM. "IT'S NOT QUITE RIGHT. "AND THE LAST WORDS OF THE SENTENCES DON'T SEEM TO RHYME, THEY DON'T MATCH." SO I WAS VERY FRUSTRATED. I FELT LIKE MAYBE STICKING TO SIGNING THEM WAS FINE. BUT WRITING THEM, I JUST WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH. NOW, UNDERSTAND THAT MY ENGLISH IS PRETTY FINE, AND I MAJORED IN ENGLISH AT GALLAUDET. BUT WHILE I WAS AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE, A CERTAIN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE-- THAT ASL WAS A TRUE LANGUAGE, EQUAL IN EVERY RESPECT TO ENGLISH. WELL, I WAS PRETTY NONPLUSSED AT THIS BECAUSE THE GENTLEMAN WHO MADE THIS PRONOUNCEMENT, A DR. WILLIAM STOKOE, HE WASN'T SO HOT OF A SIGNER HIMSELF, TO TELL THE TRUTH. AND I COULDN'T BELIEVE THIS. HE WAS THE ONE MAKING THE STATEMENT THAT ASL WAS A LANGUAGE? WHO IS HE ANYWAY? HE HAD 2 RESEARCH ASSISTANTS WORKING UNDER HIM WHO WERE BOTH DEAF, BUT ONE OF THE ASSISTANTS GREW UP IN SWEDEN, AND THEN HE CAME HERE TO THE UNITED STATES AND HE BECAME A TEACHER OF ENGLISH. SO HE'D RESEARCH, AND I THOUGHT, "WELL, HOW DOES HE KNOW?" AND THEN THE OTHER ASSISTANT WAS FROM HAWAII. AT THE TIME, HAWAII WASN'T EVEN A STATE YET. SO, I WAS A LITTLE PUZZLED BY THIS PRONOUNCEMENT. WHO WERE THESE 3 PEOPLE WHO'D MADE THIS DECISION? I WAS VERY CONFUSED. NOW, SOME OF MY DEAF FRIENDS IN THE CLIQUES THERE SAID, "OH, IT'S NOT TRUE. IT'S NOT TRUE ASL. "IT'S A BAD LANGUAGE. IT'S BASTARDIZED ENGLISH. IT'S NOT REALLY A LANGUAGE." AND I WAS CONFUSED BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE IN THAT PARTICULAR FACTION, BUT I COULDN'T DENY THIS GROWING SENSE OF EXCITEMENT AND PRIDE IN ME BECAUSE IT MEANT THAT ASL WASN'T JUST MEANT FOR THE DORM ONLY, THAT IT COULD BE BROUGHT INTO THE CLASSROOM AS WELL. AND I REALLY LIKED THAT, BUT I WAS CONFUSED BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE FITTING IN WITH MY DEAF PEERS WHO FELT THAT IT WASN'T A TRUE STATEMENT. WELL, FINALLY, I JOINED NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF. I HAD WRITTEN POETRY BEFORE THAT TIME, BUT I LET IT KIND OF FALL BY THE WAYSIDE AND BURIED IT. A COUPLE YEARS AGO, MY MOTHER SENT ME SOME POEMS THAT SHE FOUND OF MINE. OOH! IT WAS PRETTY INTERESTING. ONE OF THEM WAS VERY IMPORTANT 'CAUSE IT SHOWED HOW I WROTE AT THE TIME. LET ME SHOW IT TO YOU. ALL RIGHT. NOW, WHAT THIS MEANT TO ME WAS THAT I SEEMED TO BE FEELING PRIDE INSIDE. NOW, IN THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, I'D BEEN SORT OF BRAINWASHED THAT ENGLISH WAS THE WAY TO GO, IT WAS THE ONLY THING TO DO, AND I FELT THIS GROWING SENSE OF INFERIORITY INSIDE AS I STRUGGLED WITH THESE TWO THINGS. BUT THIS POEM SEEMS TO POINT TO A SENSE OF DAWNING PRIDE INSIDE. OF COURSE, I WAS TRYING TO WRITE ENGLISH MORE. AND I WAS TRYING TO MAKE THOSE LAST LITTLE WORDS RHYME AT THE END OF EACH SENTENCE. "EYES" AND "SKIES"... "SCHOOL"--WELL, HMM, KIND OF WITH "SOUL"... "PROCLAIM" AND "AIM." WELL, I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED HERE. HMM, SORT OF. BUT YOU GET THE IDEA? NOW, I THOUGHT I WAS DOING REALLY WELL, BUT STILL, THEY WOULDN'T PUBLISH IT IN THE SCHOOL JOURNAL. I KEPT ON GOING WITH THIS STRUGGLE INSIDE, AND THEN I JOINED NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF. NOW, AT THAT TIME... IT WASN'T REALLY THOUGHT THAT PROFESSIONAL-- THAT DEAF PEOPLE COULD BECOME PROFESSIONAL ACTORS. AND WHEN THIS WAS SET UP, IT WAS SO EXCITING. NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF WAS SET UP, AND 3 YEARS LATER, I JOINED. "HOW OLD WAS I AT THE TIME?" IS THE QUESTION? QUESTION JUST CAME FROM THE AUDIENCE-- "HOW OLD WAS I WHEN I JOINED NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF?" I WAS 27 YEARS OLD. LET'S SEE... I TAUGHT DEAF CHILDREN FOR 3 YEARS BEFORE I JOINED. AND REMEMBER, I WAS BRAINWASHED BECAUSE I'D BEEN REQUIRED TO LEARN ENGLISH, AND THAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, SO THAT'S WHAT I WAS PASSING ON, TOO. AND I JUST FELT THIS CONFLICT SO STRONGLY. IT SEEMED TO BE PASSING IT ON. I TAUGHT FOR 3 YEARS AND WAS INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED, AND THEN I WENT TO SCHOOL TO BECOME A PRIEST, TO THE SEMINARY. THEY WERE ALL HEARING IN THE SEMINARY, AND I WAS THE ONLY DEAF PERSON. AND IT WAS SO UNLIKE MY DEAF SCHOOL EXPERIENCE. IT WAS AS IF NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, WHEN I JOINED IT, WAS LIKE ANOTHER INSTITUTE FOR THE DEAF, BECAUSE ALL THE ACTORS WERE DEAF. MOST OF US HAD DEAF PARENTS, AND SO WE HAD THIS EXCITING LINEAGE TO PASS DOWN AND SHARE AMONGST US. THERE WERE A FEW HEARING PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE THEATER WHO WERE VOICE ACTORS FOR US. BUT WHEN WE ACTED ON THE STAGE, I DID PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY WHAT I'D DONE WITH WHAT I PREVIOUSLY SHOWED YOU WITH "RICHARD COREY" AND ALSO WITH "NOT WAVING, BUT DROWNING." WE SIGNED VERY, VERY CLOSE TO ENGLISH. THE REASON BEING THAT THE VOICE ACTORS, FOR THE MOST PART, WEREN'T VERY SKILLED SIGNERS. THEY HADN'T REALLY LEARNED IT VERY WELL YET. SO, WE HAD TO SIGN PRETTY CLOSE TO ENGLISH SO THAT THEY COULD FOLLOW US. THE AUDIENCE WAS COMPRISED MOSTLY OF HEARING PEOPLE, ABOUT 85%, WHO WERE WATCHING THE PERFORMANCES. AND THAT'S WHY THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, NTD, ADOPTED THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEARING AND SEEING EACH WORD. WE DIDN'T KNOW IF THIS WAS WRONG OR RIGHT. YOU KNOW, WE'D BEEN BROUGHT UP THIS WAY, TAUGHT TO ACCEPT IT, SO WE JUST FOLLOWED ALONG WITH IT. BUT STRANGELY ENOUGH, THE 8th YEAR THAT I WAS WITH NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, THE DIRECTOR, DAVID HAYES-- SIGN, THIS ON THE SHOULDER, "H" ON THE SHOULDER-- HE DIDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT DEAF CULTURE, BUT INTERNALLY, I THINK, PERHAPS IN THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, EVEN BESIDES THIS PHILOSOPHY THEY'D ADOPTED, HE WAS CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON. HE CAME UP TO ME ONE DAY AND SAID, "EXCUSE ME. "WOULD YOU MIND PERFORMING A MONOLOGUE? "I'D LIKE YOU TO DO AN EXCERPT FROM 'ON THE HARMFULNESS OF TOBACCO.'" AND I THOUGHT, "THAT'S STRANGE. 'ON' SHOULD BE 'ABOUT.' "ANYWAY, IT SHOULDN'T BE 'ON THE HARMFULNESS OF TOBACCO.' IT SHOULD BE 'ABOUT.'" ANYWAY... BUT THAT WAS THE OFFICIAL TITLE OF THE MONOLOGUE-- "ON THE HARMFULNESS OF TOBACCO." BUT DAVID HAYES SAID, "NOW, I WANT TO TELL YOU. "WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO IS TO GO PRACTICE ALONE, "ALL BY YOURSELF. "JUST WITH THE VOICE ACTOR, JUST THE TWO OF YOU, PLUS THE DIRECTOR"--WHO DIDN'T KNOW ANY SIGN LANGUAGE AT ALL-- "AND ALSO WITH AN INTERPRETER, THE FOUR OF YOU. "NOW, I DON'T WANT ANY OF THE OTHER DEAF ACTORS "TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR TRANSLATIONS. "ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN-- JUST THE FOUR OF YOU SEQUESTERED ALONE TO WORK ON THIS." I WASN'T REALLY SURE WHAT HIS POINT WAS. AND THEN HE SAID, "I WANT YOU TO SIGN JUST LIKE YOU SIGN IN THE DINING ROOM." AND I DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT HE MEANT. "SIGN LIKE I DO IN THE DINING ROOM? OH, LIKE, WELL, I THINK THAT'S WHAT WE CALL ASL." AND I DON'T THINK I WAS REALLY READY TO SHOW THAT IN PUBLIC TO ANYBODY. YOU WANT ME TO DO THAT? WELL... I WAS A GOOD BOY. I DEFERRED TO AUTHORITY ONCE MORE. AND SO I WENT AND PRACTICED. AND I DIDN'T REALLY THINK I WAS VERY SKILLED AT TRANSLATING BACK THEN, BUT I TOOK THE ENGLISH, AND I TRANSLATED AS BEST I COULD INTO ASL OR I TRIED TO, AT ANY RATE. IT WAS A VERY SLOW PROCESS. WE WENT INTO A LARGE BARN WHERE I WOULD REHEARSE. THE DIRECTOR WOULD BE SITTING THERE. SINCE HE DIDN'T KNOW ANY SIGN LANGUAGE, OFTEN, HE WOULD JUST NOD OFF TO SLEEP. SO I REALLY WASN'T SIGNING TO MANY PEOPLE. THE ONLY OTHER PERSON THERE WHO WAS REALLY WATCHING ME WAS THE INTERPRETER, WHOSE PARENTS WERE DEAF, AND SHE REALLY ENJOYED WATCHING ME. THE DIRECTOR WAS ASLEEP, THE INTERPRETER'S WATCHING ME, AND THE VOICE ACTOR REALLY DIDN'T KNOW ANY SIGNS BUT WAS TRYING TO FOLLOW ME. WAS A VERY, VERY GOOD ACTOR, BY THE WAY, BUT HE HAD TO TRY TO FOLLOW WHAT I WAS DOING IN ASL. IT WAS A 5-WEEK EXPERIENCE THAT TENDED TO BE VERY LONELY. I HAD TO PRACTICE IN THE AFTERNOON BY MYSELF AND THEN GO EAT WITH MY OTHER PEERS, THE OTHER ACTORS, FOR AN HOUR OR PRACTICE A GROUP PRODUCTION, AND THEN GO BACK AND BE ALONE. WELL, OPENING NIGHT FINALLY ARRIVED, AND MY KNEES WERE KNOCKING LIKE YOU COULDN'T BELIEVE, BECAUSE THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I'D PUBLICLY DISPLAYED MY TRANSLATION WORK. I REALLY DIDN'T HAVE ANY IDEA PRIOR TO THAT I'D BE DOING IT. NOW, OF COURSE, WHO DID I THINK WERE GONNA BE MY WORST CRITICS? THE DEAF ACTORS SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE, MY PEERS. THOSE WERE THE ONES THAT I WAS TERRIFIED OF. THE HEARING PEOPLE-- THEY WOULDN'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE ANYWAY. SO, I STILL REMEMBER. I STARTED TO SIGN THIS MONOLOGUE. AND I NOTICE, SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE THERE, A REAL THRILL WAVING THROUGH THE CROWD. PEOPLE WERE CRYING WITH ME. PEOPLE WERE LAUGHING WITH ME AS I PERFORMED. THE HEARING PEOPLE SEEMED TO REALLY BE ENJOYING IT. BUT INSIDE OF ME, THE EMOTIONS THAT I FELT WELLING UP WITHIN ME WERE JUST COMING TO THE SURFACE SO RAPIDLY AND SO EASILY, I FELT LIKE I COULD REALLY ENJOY THIS AMAZING SURFACING OF EMOTION AND ACTING THAT WAS HAPPENING. I FELT LIKE A NEWBORN BABY AND THEN JUST LEARNING TO WALK. IT WAS SUCH A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE. I ENJOYED IT. AS I LOOK BACK, MAYBE MY TRANSLATIONS WEREN'T EXACTLY ASL. PERHAPS YOU COULD CALL THEM PSE-- PIDGIN SIGNED ENGLISH, MAYBE. IT WASN'T ENGLISH, BUT IT WAS SLIDING OVER TOWARDS ASL, MAYBE RIGHT AROUND THE MIDDLE OR A LITTLE BIT OVER TOWARDS THE ASL SIDE. NOW, DURING THAT TIME, THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, A FEW PEOPLE CAME UP TO ME AND SAID, "OH! IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU'VE GOT TO TALK "ABOUT ASL AND DEAF CULTURE. THIS IS REALLY MONUMENTAL." NOW, REMEMBER, I'D BEEN BRAINWASHED FOR SO LONG, SO LONG OF A TIME THAT I WASN'T QUITE READY TO ACCEPT THIS. I LEFT NATIONAL TECHNICAL INST-- NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, AND THEN I CAME HERE TO NATIONAL TECHNICAL INSTITUTE OF THE DEAF--NTID. AT THAT TIME, BOSTON HAD A LARGE SYMPOSIUM CALLED "THE NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON SIGN LANGUAGE, RESEARCH, TEACHING." THAT WAS A BIG CONFERENCE, AND THEY INVITED ME TO GO TO THAT AND GIVE THAT SAME MONOLOGUE BY THE RUSSIAN AUTHOR THAT I'D DONE BEFORE. THERE WAS NOT GONNA BE ANY VOICE INTERPRETER. IT WAS JUST GOING TO BE ME. THAT MEANT THAT ALL THE HEARING PEOPLE WHO CAME TO THAT PARTICULAR PERFORMANCE KNEW SIGN LANGUAGE. SO, IT WAS NOT GONNA BE ANY PROBLEM FOR THE AUDIENCE TO UNDERSTAND. I HAD THIS LITTLE TINY VOICE INSIDE OF ME SAYING, "OH, SHOULD I GO FAST? SHOULD I GO SLOW?" AND I JUST WAVED THAT VOICE ASIDE AND THOUGHT, "LET'S JUST GO FOR IT." I FELT LIBERATED. I WAS VERY NERVOUS, OF COURSE. I WASN'T OVER THAT ASPECT. AND I REALLY WASN'T AS COGNIZANT ABOUT ALL THE LINGUISTICS OF ASL, BUT I REALLY ENJOYED GOING IN FRONT OF THESE PEOPLE AND GIVING THIS PERFORMANCE. IT WAS SO EASY TO EMOTE. I'LL SHOW YOU THESE EXCERPTS. OK. THE STORY BEHIND THIS MONOLOGUE IS THAT A MAN, WHOSE WIFE ASKED HIM TO GO AND GIVE A LECTURE TO THE LADIES' CLUB OF THE TOWN, TALKING ABOUT HOW BAD TOBACCO WAS AND THAT YOU SHOULD STOP. SO, WHEN THE MAN ARRIVED AT THE LADIES' CLUB, HIS WIFE HAD NOT YET GOTTEN THERE, AND HE THOUGHT WHAT HE'D DO IS TALK ABOUT HIS WIFE BEHIND HER BACK, MAKE FUN OF HER. HE KEPT ON LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER, HOPING THAT HIS WIFE HADN'T SHOWN UP. HE DIDN'T WANT TO EXPLAIN ABOUT THE HARMFULNESS OF TOBACCO AT ALL. HE'D START WITH THAT, AND THEN HE'D START CUTTING UP ON HIS WIFE. NOW, THIS IS THE ENGLISH, AND I TRIED TO TRANSLATE IT. THAT WOMAN? OOH, SUFFERS FROM RHEUMATISM. AND SHE GOES AROUND IN THAT YELLOW DRESS WITH BLACK BLOTCHES, SO SHE LOOKS LIKE SHE'S COVERED WITH COCKROACHES. ENGLISH, YOU THINK? YEAH? RIGHT? NONE? OK. SECOND EXCERPT. WE LIVE IN HOUSE NUMBER THIRTEEN, AND ALL MY DAUGHTERS WERE BORN ON THE 13th. AND OUR HOUSE HAS 13 WINDOWS. AND THE THIRD EXCERPT... MY DAUGHTERS--OH! THEY WENT INTO RAPTURES OVER IT, ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT THE BEDBUGS. BUT I JUST READ IT. I READ IT THROUGH AND TORE IT TO PIECES. [APPLAUSE] OK, YOU CAN SEE THE EVOLUTION THERE, CAN'T YOU? IS THAT POETRY? OR NOT POETRY? THAT'S NOT A POEM? WELL, I TRANSLATED IT AND SIGNED IT IN ASL. I DON'T KNOW. NOW, PETER COOK-- OH, HIS QUESTION? OK. THE SIGNS THEMSELVES LOOK LIKE THEY WERE POETIC IN MOVEMENT. NOW, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT MY EXPERIENCES OVER THE YEARS SEEM TO HAVE TAUGHT ME TO AGREE WITH WHAT PETER COOK SAID THIS MORNING... THAT DEAF PEOPLE REALLY SHY AWAY FROM POETRY AND TEND TO BE VERY, VERY HOSTILE TOWARDS THE WHOLE IDEA. THE REASON BEING THAT YOU'RE TAUGHT IN THE SCHOOLS THAT YOU HAVE TO LEARN ENGLISH, YOU HAVE TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND ENGLISH AND STRUGGLE WITH THAT ALL YOUR LIFE. POETRY? UGH! GET OUT! NOW, IF A PERSON STANDS AND EXPLAINS IT, OK, THAT'S ENGLISH POETRY, RIGHT. ASL POETRY IS A MORE EXPRESSIVE, MORE SIGNING MODE, RIGHT. I THOUGHT POETRY JUST MEANT ENGLISH, AND I WAS WRONG. EACH COUNTRY HAS THEIR OWN POETRY. EACH CULTURE HAS THEIR OWN POETRY. IN JAPAN, IN ENGLAND, IN SWITZERLAND, IN AFRICA, THEY ALL HAVE THEIR POETRY AND THEIR LANGUAGE. NOW, BUT WHEN I GREW UP IN THE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT. I HAVE A VERY STRONG BELIEF THAT THE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF FIRST SHOULD TEACH THE CHILDREN THEIR OWN DEAF LANGUAGE. TEACH THEM THAT, TO ENJOY AND LEARN AND APPRECIATE POETRY AND STORYTELLING AND HISTORY AND EVERYTHING. AND THEN, IF THEY WANT TO LEARN FOREIGN LANGUAGE, LET 'EM LEARN ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. I THINK THEY'D ENJOY IT SO MUCH MORE THEN, AND THEN THEY WOULDN'T BELIEVE THE SIGNING IS WRONG. I SUSPECT THAT'S WHY MANY SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF HAVE TO REALLY BE PATIENT AND SUFFER THROUGH WHAT'S GOING ON NOW. THE DEAF TEACHERS INSIDE ARE STILL GOING THROUGH THE SAME TURMOIL THAT I EXPERIENCED BEFORE. THEY WANT TO TEACH ENGLISH, BUT THEY WANT TO BE FREE TO SIGN IN THEIR OWN PRECIOUS ASL. A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF DEAF TEACHERS ARE LEAVING THE FIELD NOW. IT'S DWINDLING DOWN, AND WHAT'S LEFT AT THE DEAF SCHOOLS NOW ARE HEARING TEACHERS. THERE'S ONLY ABOUT... 7% OF DEAF TEACHERS NOW. BEFORE, IT WAS AT LEAST 40% OR 50%, BUT IT'S DIMINISHING AT AN ALARMING RATE. MAYBE IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMICS OF IT AND HOW MUCH THEY CAN BE PAID, BUT THE DEAF TEACHERS SEEM TO BE ESCAPING THAT PROFESSION. THEY DIDN'T WANT TO BE BURDENED WITH THAT RESPONSIBILITY ANYMORE. IF DEAF CHILDREN KNEW THAT THEY COULD EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN POETRY, MAYBE THEY'D UTILIZE THAT MORE AND FEEL MORE FREE TO SHOW IT. ABOUT 3 WEEKS AGO, A DEAF PERSON, FRIEND OF MINE, CAME TO VISIT ME. THE TWO OF US HAVE BEEN FRIENDS FOR A VERY LONG TIME, AND WE WERE CHATTING-- ...TO ME. AND I CAN'T EXACTLY MATCH WHAT SHE SAID, BUT HERE'S A FACSIMILE. OK. IN YOUR LIVER, SUPPOSE IN YOUR LIVER LIVES THIS LITTLE PERSON. AND THIS LITTLE PERSON'S JOB IS TO SHOVEL AND SHOVEL AND WAIT AND WAIT FOR THE FOOD TO COME DOWN THE GULLET AND LAND IN THAT LIVER. AND WHAT THEY DO IS, THEY TILL THE SOIL WITH THAT SHOVEL, AND THEY MIX IT UP AND AROUND AND EVERYTHING, TURN IT INTO SUGAR, AND SEND IT THROUGH THE BODY TO BE METABOLIZED. WELL, SOMETIMES A LITTLE PERSON WAITS DOWN THERE WITH THEIR SHOVEL, AND ALL THAT COMES DOWN IS COOKIES AND ICE CREAM AND CAKE. WELL, THE LITTLE PERSON IN THERE THINKS THAT'S CHEAP SUGAR. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THEY CAN REALLY PLAY WITH AND DEAL WITH WITH THAT SOIL. SO, THEY JUST STAND ASIDE AND LET THAT GO PASS RIGHT ON THROUGH THE BODY. BUT WHEN THERE'S POTATOES AND STARCHES AND GOOD THINGS, THE LITTLE PERSON SHOVELS AGAIN AND THEN THE BODY HAS ENOUGH SUGAR TO FUNCTION. AND THAT'S HYPOGLYCEMIA. [LAUGHTER] OH HO! THAT... I FEEL THAT DEAF PEOPLE ARE SO SKILLED AT ANALOGIES AND COMPARISONS-- REALLY ADEPT AT IT. THAT, FOR ME, IS POETRY. NOW, IT'S NOT EXACTLY A POEM THAT'S WRITTEN OUT IN NICE, NEAT STANZAS AND PHRASES THAT YOU STAND AND YOU MEMORIZE IN THAT PARTICULAR WAY AND THAT YOU TRY TO DO IN ENGLISH, BUT IT'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE. HERE'S ANOTHER ONE. FREDA NORMAN, WHO'S SITTING IN OUR AUDIENCE, I'D ASKED HER A COUPLE WEEKS AGO ABOUT SOMETHING, AND SHE SAID SHE REMEMBERED A LONG TIME AGO WHEN SHE WAS IN THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF THAT SHE WAS A SUPERVISOR. SOMETIMES, I REMEMBER-- SHE REMEMBERED DIFFERENT DEAF PREACHERS, WHO WERE ITINERANT, WHO WOULD COME FROM SCHOOL TO SCHOOL AND GIVE THEIR SERMONS. SHE REMEMBERED THAT, AS WE WERE TALKING, 'CAUSE I THINK I'D EXPERIENCED THAT, TOO. AND ONE DAY, THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT WHAT HEAVEN WAS, HOW YOU GOT INTO HEAVEN. IT'S LIKE WALKING DOWN A ROAD, AND IN YOUR ARMS, YOU CARRY A BROWN BAG. YOU TRUDGE THIS ROAD, AND AS YOU NEAR HEAVEN, YOU LAY THIS BAG ASIDE. THAT BAG IS YOUR BODY, AND WHAT'S LEFT WITHOUT THE BODY IS THE SOUL, AND THAT'S WHAT ENTERS HEAVEN. SEE? THAT'S AN ANALOGY, A COMPARISON. A THIRD EXAMPLE... IS PRAYER. WHAT DOES PRAYER MEAN? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN IT? WELL, IT'S LIKE YOUR MIND AND YOUR HEART ARE ALWAYS SO BUSY AND CONVOLUTED, FULL WITH CONNIPTIONS AND PLANS. IT'S LIKE A TV SCREEN, AND THE SIGNAL'S ALL SCRAMBLED AND CONVOLUTED. BUT WHEN IT CLEARS, THE PICTURE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN ENJOY AND BE VIVID. AND WHEN THE MIND AND THE HEART CLEAR OF ALL THEIR TURMOIL, THEN THERE'S A CLEAR, DIRECT LINK TO GOD, AND THAT'S PRAYER. SEE? IT'S IN PICTURES AND IMAGES. NOW, THE REASON THAT I SHOWED THOSE 3 EXAMPLES... OH, JUST RECENTLY, JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, 1984, FEBRUARY 1st-- IT'S AN IMPORTANT DATE. WHAT HAPPENED? YOU ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. ALLEN GINSBERG AND ROBERT PANARA CAME, RIGHT. AND WE ENDED UP--I ENDED UP DOING "THE HYDROGEN JUKEBOX." THAT'S RIGHT. YOU SAW THAT THIS MORNING. NOW, YOU KNOW, BEFORE THAT TIME, IF YOU TOLD ME THAT I WOULD STAND IN FRONT OF ALLEN-- WITH ALLEN GINSBERG SOMEDAY AND TALK ABOUT "HYDROGEN JUKEBOX"... POOO! I DON'T THINK I WOULD HAVE BELIEVED YOU. BUT THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED. HOW DID I ARRIVE AT THAT POINT? HOW DID I GET FROM WHERE I'D BEGUN TO WHAT IMPACTED ME SO STRONGLY AT THAT TIME? ALLEN GINSBERG PERMITTED ME TO SIGN THAT, AND HE SAID, "THAT'S RIGHT. THAT'S WHAT I MEANT." AND INSIDE, SOMETHING WAS BORN. TRANSLATION WORK, AND I WAS BEING LAUDED FOR IT. HMM... NOW, AT THE SAME TIME, I MET THIS MAN WITH LONG HAIR, NAMED JIM, AND HE SAID HE WAS A POET AND ASKED ME IF I WAS INTERESTED IN POETRY. AND I THOUGHT, "OH, HE'S JUST IMPRESSED BY ALL DEAF PEOPLE. HE THINKS, 'ISN'T YOUR SIGN LANGUAGE PRETTY?'" I THOUGHT HE WAS JUST LIKE THE REST. HE WANTED TO DEVELOP THIS GROUP CALLED THE BIRD'S BRAIN SOCIETY IN THE CELLAR, WHICH IS A BAR HERE-- USED TO BE CALLED THE CELLAR HERE AT RIT/NTID. SO I SAID, "FINE. I'LL GO SIT IN ON IT." NOW, I'D SEEN PETER COOK SIGN BEFORE, BUT WHEN I SAW HIM AT THE BIRD'S BRAIN SOCIETY, WOW... THE POETRY WAS RIGHT THERE. THERE IT WAS. AND THEN DEBBIE RENNIE. SHE, TOO, PERFORMED THERE. AND THEN IT WAS MY TURN. I WANTED TO. OOH, AND I HAD TO GET SOMETHING TOGETHER. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT. I TRANSLATED ENGLISH INTO ASL, AND I WAS GETTING MORE AND MORE FACILE AT THAT. BUT INSIDE, I FELT LIKE I STILL WASN'T EXPRESSING MYSELF VERY WELL. I'D LIKE TO SHOW YOU THIS POEM NOW THAT'S THE FIRST EFFORT THAT I MADE IN TRANSLATION. NOW, MY WAY IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAN PETER COOK. REMEMBER, I GREW UP TRANSLATING AND TRANSLATING AND TRANSLATING ENGLISH TO ASL. NOW, FOR THIS POEM, WHAT I TRIED TO DO WAS SIGN IT FIRST AND THEN WRITE IT DOWN IN ENGLISH LATER, THUS, REVERSING THE PROCESS. I WAS TEACHING A CLASS AT THE TIME AT NTID CALLED "CREATIVE TRANSLATION IN SIGN," MEANING THAT WE WOULD WRITE IN ENGLISH, AND THEN LATER, WE'D TRANSLATE INTO ASL. SO, THIS ONE DAY, I TOLD MY STUDENTS IN THE CLASS, "OK, NOW I WANT YOU TO COME UP WITH A POEM "IN SIGN LANGUAGE FIRST. "DON'T EVEN WORRY ABOUT THE ENGLISH. "JUST COME UP WITH THE POEM FIRST. OK? YOU GOT A COUPLE WEEKS TO DO IT." NOW, YOU SEE, I WAS THE TEACHER, AND I REALLY NEEDED TO PRACTICE WHAT I PREACHED, I GUESS, SO I KIND OF PAINTED MYSELF INTO A CORNER. OOH, FOR A WEEK, I REALLY WENT INTO CONNIPTIONS TRYING TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO. I PLAYED WITH SIGNS, AND I WAS ONE TIME STANDING IN THE CU WAITING TO MEET A FRIEND TO GO GET SOMETHING TO EAT, AND I WAS LETTING MY MIND WANDER. AND I NOTICED IN THE HIGH CORNER OF THE BUILDING A BALLOON THAT WAS STUCK. MAYBE THERE'D BEEN SOME SORT OF PARTY OR CELEBRATION, AND THE BALLOON HAD FLOATED UP AND BECOME LODGED IN THE CORNER OF THE BUILDING. I LOOKED AT THAT AND LOOKED AT IT. AND THEN THE WORLD SEEMED TO JUST FADE AWAY, AND ALL THAT WAS LEFT WAS MYSELF STARING AT THAT BALLOON, MULLING OVER THE IMAGE UNTIL THIS POEM WAS BORN. I'D LIKE TO SHOW IT TO YOU NOW. MAYBE I FORGOT IT. OH, WELL. IT SEEMS I FORGOT THE OVERHEAD TRANSPARENCY. WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER, THE WORDS FIRST OR THE SIGN? WANT TO SEE THE SIGN FIRST? WHOA! OVERWHELMING MAJORITY. THIS IS CALLED "THE SURPRISE." I'M IMAGINING A MENTAL CLEAR PICTURE. THERE'S A LITTLE GIRL, DIMINUTIVE AND CUTE. A BALLOON HELD-- PURPLE AND SQUEEZABLE. I LET MY BALLOON GROW SO TALL UNTIL IT'S STOPPED BY THE STRING. I TIE THAT STRING AROUND MY RING FINGER. SHE PULLS THE TOY DOWN AND LETS IT SOAR OFF. SO DOES THE STRING. FAREWELL, FAREWELL. THAT BALLOON PURPLE PULLS THE STRING. AND THIS STRING PULLS MY MIND PICTURE AWAY. [APPLAUSE] OK. WANT TO SEE THE WORDS-- THAT I LATER WROTE DOWN? OK, NOW I'LL PUT THIS IN ENGLISH FOR YOU. THAT WAS "THE SURPRISE." "I'M IMAGINING A MENTAL CLEAR PICTURE. THERE'S A GIRL"-- BIG WORD HERE-- "DIMINUTIVE AND CUTE. A BALLOON HELD-- PURPLE AND SQUEEZABLE." "I LET MY BALLOON GROW SO TALL "TILL IT'S STOPPED BY THE STRING. I TIE THAT AROUND MY RING FINGER." SHE PULLS THE TOY DOWN, LETS IT SOAR OFF. SO DOES THE STRING. FAREWELL AND FAREWELL. THE BALLOON PURPLE PULLS THE STRING. AND THIS STRING PULLS THE VISUAL PICTURE AWAY. SO WHICH DO YOU PREFER, THE SIGNED VERSION OR THE ENGLISH VERSION? THE SIGNED! IT SEEMED EVERYBODY AGREES. WELL, I HAVE MORE. I HAVE SEVERAL. BUT I'M NOT GOING TO SHARE THAT WITH YOU NOW. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO COME OVER TO THE NTID THEATER TOMORROW NIGHT AND SEE THE PERFORMANCE PART FOR THE POETRY. NOW I'VE SORT OF GIVEN YOU THIS HISTORY OF MYSELF. AND AS FOR FUTURE EVENTS AND WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, THAT I CAN'T REALLY FORESEE. AS I MEET MORE AND MORE DEAF POETS AND I HAVE MORE INFORMATION SHARED WITH ME AND THAT I SHARE WITH OTHERS, IT'S HARD TO FORESEE WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. I KNOW THAT IT'S A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE, DEFINITELY. AND ESPECIALLY FOR DEAF CHILDREN, I'M SURE IT'S GOING TO INSTILL A SENSE OF PRIDE IN THEM. NO LONGER THIS HORRIBLE SENSE OF INFERIORITY. I KNOW THAT'S GOING TO LESSEN. THEY'LL HAVE MORE AND MORE OF A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE AND MORE ESTEEM. AND ENGLISH AND ASL WILL BE ACCEPTED AS EQUIVALENTS. POETRY IN ENGLISH IS FINE, AND POETRY IN ASL IS GROWING. IT'S RISING. IT'S BECOMING PRINTED IN BOOKS, IN VIDEOTAPES, AND EXPANDING. AND IT'S GOING TO GET BETTER AND BETTER. THANK YOU. [APPLAUSE] ...ASKING ME. OK, HE IS ASKING ME, I WAS RECENTLY TALKING ABOUT HOW MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME TO READ AND WRITE ENGLISH, BUT MY MOTHER WASN'T REALLY A SKILLED SIGNER, SO HOW WAS I ABLE TO LEARN FROM HER? OK. WHEN I WAS 10--WELL, ACTUALLY I WANT TO BACK UP. I WENT TO SCHOOL WHEN I WAS 5. SO 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, I WAS READING AND WRITING. I WAS MEMORIZING THINGS AND PROCESSING THINGS, BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL 10 THAT I WAS REALLY FULLY UNDERSTANDING. I'D GO INTO THE KITCHEN AND SEE MY MOTHER, AND SHE WAS MAKING AN ANGEL FOOD CAKE ONE DAY, WHIPPING IT UP. SHE WAS REALLY BUSY MAKING THIS. MAYBE IT WAS FOR A BIRTHDAY, A BIRTHDAY CAKE. I DON'T REALLY REMEMBER WHY SHE WAS DOING THIS. I WENT UP TO HER, AND I SAID, "MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY." AND SHE DECIDED WE WERE PLAYING A SIGN GAME. I SAID, "LET'S PLAY A GAME." AND SO WE TRIED TO COME UP WITH THIS GAME TOGETHER THAT ALL OF US COULD PLAY. MY MOTHER WAS BUSY, REMEMBER? SO HOW WAS SHE GONNA DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME? IT WAS IMPORTANT TO COUNT HOW MANY STROKES SHOULD BE IN THE ANGEL FOOD CAKE. BECAUSE IF YOU DO IT WRONG, OF COURSE, IT'S GOING TO FALL IN THE OVEN. SO SHE WAS SAYING, "WAIT. WAIT. WAIT!" "WE CAN PLAY YOUR OLD GAME. PLAY ANOTHER GAME." AND I SAID, "NO. I DON'T WANT TO PLAY AN OLD GAME. I WANT A NEW GAME. COME ON!" SO SHE PUT THE CAKE DOWN, THE CAKE BATTER DOWN. AND WE WENT INTO THE FAMILY ROOM, THE LIVING ROOM. AND WE GOT OUT A BOOK CALLED "BEAUTIFUL JOE." AND THE FIRST SENTENCE SAID, "MY NAME IS BEAUTIFUL JOE, AND I AM A CUR." CUR? I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANT. WELL, THIS INFURIATED MY MOTHER EVEN FURTHER, SO THEN WE WENT TO THE DICTIONARY. "CUR." "WHAT'S IT SAY?" "AN UGLY DOG." "AH! UGLY DOG." AND SO I MATCHED THE DICTIONARY MEANING AND THE WORD IN THE BOOK. "OH!" AND A LITTLE LIGHT TURNED ON IN MY HEAD, AND THEN I UNDERSTOOD. "MY NAME IS BEAUTIFUL JOE, AND I AM" AN UGLY DOG. OOH! IT'S A NEW GAME. SO I READ. AND WHENEVER I DIDN'T KNOW A WORD, I WENT AND LOOKED IT UP IN THE DICTIONARY, AND IT WAS FUN. AND MAYBE MY MOTHER HAD PLANNED TO TEACH ME THAT WAY. I REALLY DON'T THINK SO, THOUGH. WELL, SO THE SCHOOL WOULD ASK ME TO WRITE ESSAYS SOMETIMES. AND SO I WOULD BE WRITING AND STRUGGLING WITH WHAT TO WRITE DOWN. I'D SHOW IT TO MY MOTHER, AND SHE WOULD TELL ME. AND SHE'D TAKE A RED PEN, BUT SHE WOULDN'T MAKE ANY CORRECTIONS. SHE WOULD REALLY JUST EXPLAIN TO ME HOW TO REARRANGE THE WORDS IN MORE GRAMMATICAL FORM. SO I WOULD TRY TO WRITE, AND IF I DID IT RIGHT, SHE WOULD GIVE ME POSITIVE FEEDBACK FOR IT. IT WASN'T LIKE IN THE CLASSROOM WHERE YOU GO AND THEY MARK IT ALL UP WITH A RED PEN AND TOTALLY DEFLATE YOUR EGO. MY MOTHER WASN'T REALLY GOOD IN SIGN, BUT SHE WAS SUCCESSFUL IN HER TEACHING METHODS FOR ME. YES. OK. THE QUESTION IS, AS I GREW UP, I WAS BRAINWASHED IN ENGLISH, RIGHT? AND WHEN I SIGNED, HOW DID I KNOW IF THAT WAS ASL OR ENGLISH? HOW DID I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE? WELL, REALLY, AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE, WHEN I WAS THERE, THAT'S WHEN THIS FAMOUS PROCLAMATION WAS MADE ABOUT ASL BEING A REAL LANGUAGE, AND THEY DEFINED ALL THE RULES AND THE GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE AND THE SYNTAX. THERE WERE MEETINGS, AND MANY PEOPLE WERE THERE, LIKE ELLA, AND I READ A LOT OF ARTICLES AND SIGN LANGUAGE BOOKS ABOUT THE TRANSFORMATIONAL GRAMMAR INVOLVED. AND I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT 100%, BUT JUST MY GUT FEELING WAS THAT THERE WAS A COMFORTABILITY ABOUT IT. AND I KNEW THAT'S WHAT WAS HAPPENING. MY EXPERIENCES WITH MEETING DIFFERENT PEOPLE MADE ME REALIZE IT, TOO. AND THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT I FEEL THAT CHILDREN SHOULD LEARN ASL AS A LANGUAGE. THEY SHOULD STUDY IT AND KNOW THAT THEY HAVE A LANGUAGE WITH RULES, WITH SYNTAX, AND THEN THEY'LL HAVE A GROWING SENSE OF PRIDE, AND THEN LATER THEY CAN STUDY ENGLISH EASIER. IT'LL BE A LOT EASIER FOR THEM. OK, THIS PERSON IS ASKING ME, DID THE TEACHERS WHO TAUGHT ME ENGLISH KNOW ANY ASL? WHAT DO YOU THINK? I THINK TEACHERS WHO TEACH ASL SHOULD BE BILINGUAL, DEFINITELY. YOU ONLY LEARN ENGLISH THROUGH ANOTHER NATIVE LANGUAGE IF YOU'RE NOT AN ENGLISH SPEAKER. YOU COULD LEARN IF YOU'RE SPANISH. YOU COULD LEARN ENGLISH. YOU COULDN'T LEARN ENGLISH THROUGH FRENCH, COULD YOU? SO YOU REALLY HAVE TO USE YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE TO ATTAIN A SECOND ONE. I'M KIND OF WORRIED ABOUT--IS YOUR VOICE OK? ARE YOU TIRED? "I'M FINE. GO AHEAD." OK. SHE SAYS SHE'S FINE, "GO AHEAD." OH. SHE'S ASKING ME, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, TEACH ASL FIRST? HOW WOULD THEY LEARN ENGLISH VOCABULARY?" OK. FIRST--OK, WAIT A MINUTE. FIRST YOU HAVE TO ENJOY YOURSELF. YOU HAVE TO ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE AND WHO YOU ARE. AND THEN IT'S EASIER TO EXPRESS THINGS. IF INSIDE YOU HAVE MANY INTERNAL DOUBTS AND DEMONS RAISING THEIR HEADS, THEN IT'S REALLY HARD TO LET SOME OF THESE OUT AND EXPRESS YOURSELF, RIGHT? NOW, CHILDREN ENJOY THEMSELVES AND ENJOY EXPRESSING THEMSELVES. THEN THEY CAN LEARN ENGLISH AND INTERNALIZE IT. VOCABULARY IS HARD, BUT IT WOULDN'T BE TOO DIFFICULT TO OVERCOME. IT WOULD BE FUN. IT WOULD BE LIKE A GAME TO PICK UP NEW WORDS AND NEW VOCABULARY. AND THEN THEIR UNDERSTANDING WOULD REALLY BLOSSOM. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE REALLY, REALLY WONDERFUL AND COGNIZANT OF ALL THE VOCABULARY IN ENGLISH IN ALL THE UNITED STATES? "75%," YOU SAY? NO! NOBODY KNOWS ALL OF IT. NOBODY KNOWS ALL OF IT. IT'S A VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE THAT ADEPT AT IT. HAVE YOU READ A BOOK CALLED "WHEN THE MIND HEARS"? IT'S BY A GENTLEMAN NAMED HARLAN LANE. AS I WAS READING THE BOOK, IT WAS TELLING THE STORY ABOUT A TEACHER OF SIGN LANGUAGE FROM 200 YEARS AGO. ONLY 10% EVEN WENT INTO COLLEGE AT THE TIME. SO IT MEANS THAT THE SYSTEM IS INCORRECT IF STILL NOT EVEN 75% ATTEND COLLEGE. THERE'S A QUESTION WAY IN THE BACK. OK, THE QUESTION IS, AS I CREATE POEMS AND SIGN THEM AND LATER WRITE THEM DOWN IN ENGLISH, DO I PREFER DOING IT THAT WAY? OR DO I PREFER DOING IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND? NOW, A LONG TIME AGO, WHAT I DID FIRST WAS TO WRITE THEM IN ENGLISH AND THEN LATER SIGN THEM. BUT NOW I'VE REVERSED THIS PROCESS, AND I PREFER TO SIGN THEM FIRST IN MY NATIVE LANGUAGE OF ASL WITHOUT HAVING TO BOTHER WITH THE WRITTEN TRANSLATION. I SIGN THEM UNTIL I'M CONTENT WITH THE WAY I HAVE IT, WITH FOLLOWING THE RULES OF ASL AND CLASSIFIERS AND HAND SHAPES AND EVERYTHING, AND THEN I REFLECT ON WHAT I'VE WRITTEN AND TRY TO MATCH IT WITH ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS. AS I'VE WRITTEN THEM DOWN, I CHANGE THEM OVER TIME. I SOMETIMES WORK WITH A HEARING INTERPRETER BECAUSE, OF COURSE, ENGLISH IS NOT MY FIRST LANGUAGE, BUT IT IS THEIRS. IF I WORK WITH A HEARING PERSON, THEY CAN MAKE SUGGESTIONS ABOUT WHAT SOUNDS A LITTLE BETTER. SO IT'S MORE LIKE A TEAM CONCEPT. THAT WAY, WE CAN MELD OUR TWO INTERESTS--OUR CULTURES AND OUR LANGUAGES TOGETHER. THE HEARING PERSON CAN HELP ME CHOOSE THE WORDS IF I FEEL AT A LOSS FOR THE VOCABULARY. A HEARING PERSON MIGHT SAY, "OH, THERE'S MAYBE TOO MANY WORDS THERE. "MAYBE YOU ONLY NEED A COUPLE. "MAYBE TWO WORDS ARE ENOUGH "BECAUSE YOU'RE DOING SO MANY IMAGES IN MIND THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL READILY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE DOING." YOU SEE, I'M STILL LEARNING. THAT SURPRISES ME ABOUT THAT STATEMENT THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE TO HAVE AS MANY WORDS. SOMETIMES I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY QUITE AS MUCH ABOUT IT, AND I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT SECOND LANGUAGE WHEN I WRITE THEM IN MY FIRST. OK, OK. OK. THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME. I WAS SUPPOSED TO END MY TALK ABOUT ASL TRANSLATION AND POETRY, AND I FORGOT. [APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. DO YOU WANT ME TO PUT THIS ONE UP? I DIDN'T HAVE THE THING I WANTED TO END IT WITH. OK, NOW, IF I SIGN IT NOW, DON'T LOOK AT THAT PAGE, ALL RIGHT, AS I SIGN IT. WANT ME TO SHUT IT OFF? NOBODY HEARD HIM, THE DEAD MAN, BUT STILL HE LAY MOANING: I WAS MUCH, MUCH FARTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT AND NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING. POOR CHAP, HE ALWAYS LOVED LARKING. AND NOW HE'S DEAD. IT MUST HAVE BEEN TOO COLD FOR HIM, AND HIS HEART GAVE WAY, THEY SAID. NO, NO, NO, IT WAS TOO COLD ALWAYS. STILL-- [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 I'M A NEWBORN BABY, AND IT'S REALLY EXHILARATING FOR ME. THE FIRST POEM THAT I'D LIKE TO SHOW YOU-- I JUST RECENTLY CREATED THIS POEM. IT'S BRAND-NEW. REALLY, I DIDN'T WRITE IT DOWN. I SHOULD SAY I JUST CREATED IT IN SIGNS JUST A COUPLE OF NIGHTS AGO. I'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THIS CONFERENCE, AND I COULDN'T GET TO SLEEP. I WAS SO EXCITED. "WHY CAN'T I SLEEP? "I WONDER WHAT'S GOING ON. I KNOW I'M TIRED. "I WORKED ALL DAY TEACHING AND DIRECTING A PLAY EVERY NIGHT HERE AT NTID." BUT THERE I LAY TOSSING AND TURNING AND STARING AT THE CEILING. I LAY THERE WITH MY BLANKETS ABOUT ME AND THE LIGHTS TURNED OFF, AND PRETENDED THAT I COULD GO TO SLEEP, BUT MY MIND WAS WORKING OVERTIME. WELL, FINALLY, THIS POEM PRESENTED ITSELF TO ME. I SIGNED IT. AND LATER ON I WORKED WITH MY INTERPRETER, WHOSE NAME IS MIRIAM NATHAN. SHE WATCHED ME SIGN THIS, AND THEN WE TALKED ABOUT IT. OF COURSE, MY FIRST LANGUAGE IS AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, AND MY CULTURE IS THAT OF THE DEAF. ENGLISH IS MIRIAM'S FIRST LANGUAGE. AND, OF COURSE, HER CULTURE IS HEARING. SO WE HAVE A NICE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. AND IT WAS REALLY A DELIGHT TO WORK TOGETHER, AND I'D LIKE TO SHOW YOU THIS. IT'S CALLED "LIBERATION." YOU COULD MAYBE SIGN IT AS IF IT WERE "FREEDOM" OR "OPPRESSION BEGONE." ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH! ENGLISH MANACLED MY HANDS. FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM IN SIGNS. WAIT. WAIT. RECOGNITION, ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, EQUALITY, COLLABORATION. [APPLAUSE] AND, REALLY, THAT'S HOW I FEEL TONIGHT. AS I GREW UP, I REALLY EXPERIENCED A TERRIBLE FEELING OF INFERIORITY. I FELT THAT THE ONLY WAY TO BE A SUCCESS IN THE WORLD WOULD BE TO USE PERFECT ENGLISH, WHICH WASN'T MY FIRST LANGUAGE. NOW, OF COURSE, I'VE ALWAYS RESPECTED ENGLISH. AND NOW I FEEL THAT ASL IS A PERFECT COUNTERPART TO IT. IT'S PERFECTLY EQUAL. AND MY POEMS TONIGHT THAT I'M GOING TO SHOW YOU REFLECT THINGS THAT I'VE THOUGHT EVER SINCE I WAS SMALL AND I GREW UP THINKING ABOUT. ABOUT 3 YEARS AGO--MAYBE IT WAS ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO-- A FRIEND OF MINE AND I DECIDED TO GO TO NEW YORK FOR THANKSGIVING VACATION. AND WE WERE ENJOYING SEEING THE SIGHTS. ONE NIGHT THE TWO OF US WENT TO THE PART OF NEW YORK CITY CALLED LITTLE ITALY. WE WERE WALKING ALONG THE STREETS. BEHIND THE SIDEWALK, WE SAW A BAKERY. THERE WAS A RESTAURANT NEXT TO IT. IN THE WINDOW WERE THE MOST DELECTABLE-LOOKING CAKES. AHH! OOH. THERE WAS THIS ONE CAKE THAT I WOULD SAY IT WAS ABSOLUTELY SINFUL! IT WAS A DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE. WE SALIVATED AND LOOKED AT EACH OTHER AND THOUGHT, "OH, MAYBE WE SHOULD GO IN AND HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE." SO WE WENT IN. "WE'LL GO IN AND HAVE COFFEE, AND THEN WE'LL GO BACK TO THE HOTEL." SO WE SAT AND WE ATE AND WE CHATTED AND DRANK OUR COFFEE AND JUST TALKED THE NIGHT AWAY. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. THEN WE WENT BACK TO OUR HOTEL, WHERE WE WENT INTO OUR RESPECTIVE BEDS. WELL, MY FRIEND JUST WENT OUT LIKE A LIGHT IMMEDIATELY. AND AS FOR ME, I TOSSED AND TURNED. OH! WHY DID I EAT THAT CAKE AND HAVE THAT DARNED COFFEE WITH ALL THAT CAFFEINE? NOW I CAN'T SLEEP. WELL, THERE I WAS. AND THEN I STARTED PLAYING WITH SOME SIGNS IN MY MIND, AND THE RESULT WAS THIS POEM. IT'S CALLED "THE PARADOX." THE WOMAN--BLACK--SINGS A STORY. WHILE POUNDING THE PIANO KEYS, SHE SINGS:  "WHERE'S MY MAN"   "THE MAN I LOVE?"  THE KEYS, THOSE WHITE AND BLACK IVORIES--UP, DOWN, UP AND DOWN. AND SHE SINGS, AND SHE SINGS:  "WHERE'S MY MAN"   "THAT MAN I LOVE?"  WOMEN. WOMEN, ALL OVER, SO MANY. AND MEN, THE MEN AMONG THEM, THEY WATCH THE SINGER WAILING:  "WHERE'S THE MAN"   "WHERE'S THE MAN I LOVE?"  THE PIANO--BLACK AND WHITE-- MAKES A SOUNDLESS PAUSE. WOMEN IN THE BLACK AND WHITE ROOM RISE TO THEIR FEET WITH THEIR MEN, CLAPPING THEIR HANDS CONTINUOUSLY. AND THE SINGER--BLACK-- GRINS AND BOWS. THEN SHE WALKS TO MEET HER MAN. WELL, FOR HER, THE SONG IS ONLY A SONG. THE INNER SONG ALWAYS PESTERS ME.  "WHERE'S MY MAN"   "THE MAN I LOVE?"  MY MOTHER CAN HEAR AND CAN SIGN. MY FATHER CAN HEAR AND CAN'T SIGN. THIS TRUE SONG INSIDE OF ME PERSISTS, PERSISTS.  "WHERE'S MY MAN"   "THE MAN I LOVE?"  [APPLAUSE] KIND OF HEAVY. I KNOW. THAT'S WHY I'VE ALWAYS KIND OF FELT THIS OPPRESSING SENSE OF INFERIORITY, I GUESS. AND I THINK THAT ONCE IN A WHILE, ALL PEOPLE FEEL THAT, AND IT PLAGUES THEM NOW AND AGAIN. BUT, YOU KNOW, HERE IN ROCHESTER, THE SUN DOESN'T SHINE VERY OFTEN, RIGHT? RIGHT? WOULD YOU AGREE, DEBBIE? I'D ASK YOU THAT QUESTION. OK. SO IT'S A CONSENSUS. A FEW YEARS AGO, I WAS SITTING IN MY APARTMENT, AND THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT A RAY OF SUNSHINE. I SAT THERE WITH MY MUG OF COFFEE, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW JUST RUMINATING ABOUT LIFE. AND THIS POEM CAME TO MIND. I THOUGHT I'D PLAY WITH HAND SHAPES A LITTLE BIT WITH IT. AND THESE ARE THE HAND SHAPES THAT I CHOSE TO USE. YOU CAN USE IT FOR "HAPPY" OR "SAD" OR "COME HERE." ANYBODY KNOW ANY SIGNS THAT WOULD BE LIKE THIS: "TROUBLE." TROUBLE'S ONE SIGN THAT USES THAT HAND SHAPE. OTHERS? "FATHER." FATHER'S ONE. "PEACE." YEAH, THAT'S THE IDEA. SO THESE ARE THE TWO HAND SHAPES I CHOSE TO USE. AND, ALSO, THESE. THERE'S THREE IN ALL. THIS POEM IS ENTITLED "THE DISEASE." MINDLESS, HEARTLESS, AND DARK LIVES. SUICIDE-PRONE. ZEST FOR LIFE--WHERE? THEY WALK ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, LOOKING FOR SOMETHING THEY DON'T KNOW. HELLO-LESS, GOOD-BYE-LESS. DARK LIVES. LAUGH SELDOM, IF EVER. CRY AT TIMES. THEY GAZE AT NOTHING. ALL DAY, ALL DAY, HOPING FOR SOMEBODY THEY COULD LOVE. [APPLAUSE] OH, ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, YOU MIGHT REMEMBER WHEN THE SPACE SHUTTLE "CHALLENGER" EXPLODED AND THE ASTRONAUTS DIED. IT WAS SUCH A RESOUNDING SHOCK THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. AND I SAT AND THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AND CAME UP WITH A POEM TO COMMEMORATE THAT EVENT. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT I WROTE MYSELF. AND, ACTUALLY, I CAME UP WITH IT IN SIGNS AND LATER WORKED ON THE WORDS. THIS IS CALLED "REFLECTION." BUT IT COULD MEAN REFLECTING ON SOMETHING, MULLING IT OVER. IT COULD MEAN YOUR REFLECTION IN A MIRROR. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. SMOKE. AND THE LIFTOFF OF THE "CHALLENGER" INSPIRED ME. ONE MINUTE, 49 SECONDS, LATER, EXPLOSION. AND MY HEART HALTED. THE MAIMED SHUTTLE DESCENDED, AND WITH IT MY HEART. IT DAWNED UPON ME--A FLASHBACK. MEMORY: 1963, PRESIDENT KENNEDY WAS SHOT, HIS HEAD BLOWN TO BITS, HIS BODY FALLING DOWNWARD AND WITH IT MY TEARS. [APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. OH, JUST THIS LAST SPRING, I WAS SO BUSY. I WAS TEACHING SCHOOL CLASSES; I WAS DOING MY CHURCH WORK. IT JUST SEEMED LIKE THERE WERE CALLS COMING FOR ME FROM EVERY SIDE. WELL, THIS ONE WOMAN NAMED WENDY LOW-- SHE'S A TEACHER HERE AT NTID-- SHE APPROACHED ME AND SAID, "PATRICK, WOULD YOU MIND COMING OUT TO THE WOODS BACK THERE?" THERE'S SOME WOODS OUT HERE IN THE BACK OF THE COLLEGE UNION. AND SHE SAID... "COME OUT BEHIND THE ENCLAVE, "WHERE THERE'S THE WOODS. WE'RE GONNA HAVE A BIG POETRY CONCLAVE OUT THERE." THERE'S A BIG FIELD AND A LOT OF WOODS. AND SHE ASKED ME IF I'D MIND GOING TO PARTICIPATE WITH ALL THE STUDENTS TO SHOW SOME POETRY AND WORK ON SOMETHING AND HAVE SORT OF AN IMPROMPTU WORKSHOP. SHE ASKED IF MAYBE I'D BE WILLING TO SHOW A LITTLE BIT OF MY POETRY. "WELL," I THOUGHT, "OK, OK. UM, I'LL TRY TO MAKE IT. I'LL SEE." AND IT WAS REALLY WONDERFUL THAT SHE TAPPED ME ON THE SHOULDER AND ASKED ME TO DO THIS BECAUSE IT MADE ME THINK ABOUT A THING OR TWO. AND THEN I CAME UP WITH THIS OTHER POEM THAT I REALLY ENJOY. AND IT REALLY SEEMS THAT I WRITE POEMS BEST UNDER PRESSURE AND WHEN I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS BUGGING ME AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WANTING TO MEET FOR DIFFERENT THINGS. THIS IS CALLED "THE DISTANT CALL." THERE ARE THE WOODS. I HAVE NOT WALKED THERE YET. WHY? THE CROWD WANTS MY ATTENTION. THEY WANT MY SKILLS. AT TIMES I SEEM TO BE A WHORE-- THE PLEASURE, POPULARITY, AND ADULATION. THE EGO SWELLS UP TO THE NECK WITH ONUSES AND PLANS AND SELF-ABUSE. AH! THE SPOTLIGHTS ARE TURNED ON. THE CURTAIN OPENS. THE SHOW IS ON. THE AUDIENCE WANTS ENCORES. I'M SO TIRED. I WANT TO SCREAM. THERE ARE THE WOODS. THERE ARE TOO MANY CALLS. ONE CALL BEYOND CAPTURES MY EYES. GOD HAS GIVEN ME FREEWILL. YES, I FORGET THIS. TOO MANY CALLS AGAIN. STOP. THIS CHOICE I MAKE ALONE. [LAUGHTER] THIS IS THE LAST POEM THAT I'LL DO. AND I REALLY, REALLY LOVE IT. I WISH I HAD SUCH A LONG, VOLUMINOUS LIST OF POEMS TO DO. I SEE THAT I HAVE COME UP WITH A SMALL CANON OF MAYBE 4 OR 5. AND TO COME UP WITH MORE, I DON'T THINK I HAVE THAT RIGHT NOW. I SEEM TO HAVE A BLOCK, BUT MAYBE LATER, I'LL BE ADDING TO THAT. WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, I LEARNED ABOUT VERY SHORT POEMS CALLED HAIKUS. AND WHEN I WAS WITH NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE DEAF, WE LEARNED MORE HAIKU POETRY AND PERFORMED SOME OF IT. USUALLY, THEY ARE BRIEF POEMS COMPOSED OF JUST THREE LINES WITH JUST A FEW SYLLABLES, AND THAT'S ALL. I THOUGHT THAT WAS REALLY INTERESTING. AND I WONDERED IF I COULD, PERHAPS, THINK OF SOMETHING THAT WAS COMPLEMENTARY TO THIS, SOMETHING JUST LIKE IT IN SIGN LANGUAGE. AND I CAME UP WITH A FEW OF THOSE ON MY OWN. THIS GROUPING OF FOUR HAIKUS IS CALLED "MEMORIES." NUMBER ONE. EVERY SUNDAY, AHH, THAT SMOKESTACK--RED BRICK. KANSAS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. [APPLAUSE] NUMBER TWO. CHEAP INSTITUTION COLORS. PAINTS--EYESORE YELLOW, PALE BLUE, SICKLY GREEN. BLECCH. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] NUMBER THREE. "AGAIN? A SPEECH LESSON? I TALKED IN SIGNS." PUNISHMENT: MITTS TIED TOGETHER. [APPLAUSE] NUMBER FOUR. MS. KILCOIN, MY TEACHER, ALWAYS WADDLING IN, THE GROUCH. "SHH! HA HA!" BULLDOG. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] THANK YOU. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. THANK YOU. OK, LET'S GIVE A HAND. LET'S GIVE A HAND TO PATRICK.
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."