Detail View: RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive: Interviews

Filename: 
ds_0027_flahertylow_cap_01.mp4
Identifier: 
ds_0027_flahertylow_cap_01.mp4
Title: 
Interviews
Creator: 
Flaherty, Joe
Subject: 
Flaherty, Joe Interviews
Subject: 
Low, Wendy Interviews
Subject: 
Writers & Books (Firm)
Subject: 
National Deaf Poetry Conference (1987 National Technical Institute for the Deaf)
Subject: 
American Sign Language literature
Subject: 
American poetry 20th century
Subject: 
Deaf, Writings of the, American
Subject: 
Deaf Poetry
Subject: 
ASL poetry
Summary: 
Part of a collection of interviews made for a film on ASL poetry, "The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox." In the first interview, Joe Flaherty, Executive Director of Writers & Books in Rochester, New York, discusses his growing awareness of and involvement with the Deaf community in Rochester over the course of the last couple of decades. In the second interview, Wendy Low, Director of Community Outreach and Youth Education at Writers & Books, discusses the beginnings of ASL poetry and her work putting together the National Deaf Poetry Conference in 1987.
Publisher: 
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Digital Publisher: 
Rochester Institute of Technology - RIT Libraries - RIT Archive Collections
Contributor: 
Low, Wendy,
Contributor: 
Lerner, Miriam Nathan
Date of Original: 
2007
Date of Digitization: 
2018
Broad Type: 
moving image
Digital File Format: 
mp4
Physical Format: 
DVD
Dimensions of Original: 
77 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=b3955014
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: 
- YOU'RE ON. - WONDERFUL. WOMAN: SO, MY FIRST QUESTION WAS, DID YOU KNOW ABOUT ANY DEAF COMMUNITY, DEAF ANYTHING IN THIS TOWN BEFORE ALL THIS STUFF STARTED HAPPENING? MAN: WELL, I WAS AWARE OF THE DEAF COMMUNITY HERE, OBVIOUSLY, YOU KNOW, WITH NTID AND-- I MEAN, ONE OF THE REALLY NICE THINGS, I THINK, ABOUT ROCHESTER IS THAT YOU SEE DEAF PEOPLE AROUND. YOU KNOW, YOU SEE THEM SIGNING, WHETHER YOU'RE AT THE PUBLIC MARKET OR A RESTAURANT OR WHEREVER YOU ARE. YOU'RE AWARE THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF DEAF PEOPLE IN THIS COMMUNITY, YEAH. WOMAN: OK, BUT YOU HAD NOT BEEN PRIVY TO ANY SORT OF DEAF CULTURAL EVENTS, ENTERTAINMENT, CERTAIN POETRY-- MAN: NO, NOT AT ALL. NOT AT ALL. WOMAN: SO, HOW DID IT COME ABOUT THAT YOU BECAME AWARE OF IT? HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN? MAN: WELL, WHAT HAPPENED WAS WHEN WE MOVED TO THIS BUILDING, WHICH WAS IN 1985, FROM A PLACE ON SOUTH CLINTON, WE HAD A 1-ROOM STOREFRONT, AND WE MOVED HERE IN 1985. AND SUDDENLY, WE HAD 3 FLOORS OF SPACE AND A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO DO A LOT OF THINGS. AND SO WE STARTED HAVING A LOT MORE POETRY READINGS AND OTHER EVENTS, AND PEOPLE-- A LOT OF PEOPLE FOUND US. WE WOULD HAVE AN OPEN MIC GOING ON ON A MONTHLY BASIS, SO A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD COME TO THAT. AND, SUDDENLY, THERE WAS A REAL AWARENESS IN ROCHESTER THAT THERE WAS A PLACE TO GO WHERE YOU COULD GIVE A READING OR LISTEN TO OTHER POETS OR FICTION WRITERS. AND SO WE HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE COMING. AND, UM... AND ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WAS JIM COHN. SO, I MEAN, JIM WAS A KIND OF A REAL BRIDGE BETWEEN THE 2 COMMUNITIES-- YOU KNOW, BEING A POET HIMSELF, AND ALSO BEING OUT AT NTID. AND WENDY LOW ALSO WAS A PERSON WHO WAS A WRITER AND A POET AND OUT THERE, TOO. SO, THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, A KIND OF A COMMUNICATION GOING ON THAT PEOPLE WHO WERE WRITERS, WHO WERE POETS AND ALSO OUT THERE IN THE DEAF COMMUNITY KNEW THAT THERE WAS A WAY TO KIND OF, YOU KNOW, KIND OF GET ACROSS THIS GAP HERE AND SOMEHOW GET THE TWO AUDIENCES TOGETHER. SO, I THINK IT WAS PROBABLY JIM. I DON'T REMEMBER EXACTLY, BUT IT WAS PROBABLY JIM WHO FIRST INTRODUCED ME TO KENNY, THEN TO PETER. AND AT THAT TIME, THERE WAS ALSO ANOTHER WOMAN WHO WAS A PART OF IT. - DEBBIE RENNIE. - DEBBIE RENNIE. SO, IT WAS--YOU KNOW, IT WAS THOSE 2 OR 3, AND I DON'T REMEMBER THE EXACT-- BUT WE DID HAVE A-- AND ALSO, THERE WAS JAZZBERRY'S, IN WHICH THERE WAS ALSO KIND OF A CROSS THING, 'CAUSE PEOPLE-- WHICH WAS A RESTAURANT AND ALSO, YOU KNOW, ORGANIC RESTAURANT AND HEALTHY FOOD, AND IT WAS OVER ON MONROE AVENUE. AND THERE WAS THE STAGE THERE, SO THERE WAS A LOT OF READINGS AND PERFORMANCES AND MUSIC, YOU KNOW, JAZZ--JAZZBERRY'S-- AND ALSO, YOU KNOW, ACOUSTIC THINGS. SO, THERE WAS THINGS GOING ON, AND I DON'T REMEMBER THE EXACT THING, BUT THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, PERFORMANCES. SOME DEAF THINGS STARTED TO HAPPEN HERE. AND I REMEMBER AT THE TIME, SEEING THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THINKING, "WOW, THIS IS REALLY--THIS IS REALLY UNIQUE." AND, YOU KNOW, IN MY POSITION HERE, I SAW POETRY ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. I MEAN, I WOULD GO TO PLACES, AND, YOU KNOW, I WOULD SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING. IT WAS AT THE SAME TIME THAT THERE WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE POETRY SLAM, WHICH WAS GROWING OUT OF CHICAGO. AND THERE WAS A LOT OF KIND OF INTEREST IN THAT, WHILE SUDDENLY, YOU KNOW, POETRY COULD BE DONE AS THAT KIND OF OLYMPIC-STYLE COMPETITIVE EVENT WITH JUDGES. YOU KNOW, LIKE, SOMEBODY WOULD READ A POEM AND THEY'D GIVE 'EM A, YOU KNOW, 8.5, LIKE YOU WERE WATCHING, YOU KNOW, GYMNASTICS ON TV. SO, THERE WERE SOME DIFFERENT KINDS OF THINGS GOING ON. THERE WAS--ON THE WEST COAST, THERE WAS KIND OF LANGUAGE POETS THAT WERE KIND OF COMING OUT OF THERE. FROM NEW YORK CITY, THERE WAS A CERTAIN KIND OF, YOU KNOW, OUTGROWTH AND FOLLOW-UP TO THE BEAT POETS. THERE WAS THINGS HAPPENING IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY WHICH I WAS AWARE OF, BUT SEEING THIS, IT REALLY STRUCK ME, YOU KNOW, "THIS IS SOMETHING VERY UNIQUE NOT HAPPENING ANYWHERE ELSE AND, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THAT GREW OUT OF ROCHESTER." AND I REMEMBER KIND OF SEEING THAT, BUT I REMEMBER THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY I REALLY HAD TO KIND OF PRESENT THAT TO OTHER PEOPLE WAS, UM... WE HAD A CONFERENCE HERE IN ROCHESTER, AND WE HAD PEOPLE-- IT WAS A LITERARY CONFERENCE. WE HAD PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE STATE, A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM NEW YORK CITY AND PEOPLE FROM NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS. AND, UM...WE HAD A DINNER DOWN AT CITY HALL, AND KENNY WILL REMEMBER THIS. AND SO I DECIDED THAT THIS WOULD BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO INTRODUCE ALL THESE PEOPLE TO SOMETHING THAT WAS UNIQUE TO ROCHESTER. SO, WHEN THEY CAME HERE, WE SAID, "OK, WE'RE GONNA INTRODUCE THEM WHEN THEY HAD LUNCH." FOR INSTANCE, WE HAD LUNCH IN THIS BUILDING. WE SAID, "WELL, WE'RE GONNA TEACH YOU HOW TO EAT WHITE HOTS," 'CAUSE, YOU KNOW, WHITE HOTS ARE KIND OF A ROCHESTER THING, YOU KNOW. AND WE HAD GENESEE BEER. SO, WE WERE KIND OF REALLY KIND OF INTRODUCING THEM TO ROCHESTER. AND, SO, I SAID, "WHEN WE HAVE THIS DINNER, WE'LL HAVE SOME LOCAL POETS." AND I REMEMBER PEOPLE WHO WERE COMING SAID, "OH, BOY. WE HAVE TO LISTEN TO LOCAL POETS." YOU KNOW, THEY WERE, LIKE, "OH, BOY. THEY WANT TO SHOW US THE LOCAL POETS." AND SO, I SAID, "OK." I INTRODUCED THEM. I SAID, "ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT ROCHESTER IS THAT WE HAVE "THE HIGHEST PER CAPITA DEAF POPULATION IN THE COUNTRY HERE "AS A RESULT OF NTID. "AND PEOPLE COME HERE, AND THEY GO TO SCHOOL, "AND THEN A LOT OF THEM STAY HERE. "SO, THROUGHOUT ROCHESTER, THERE ARE DEAF PEOPLE. "YOU SEE THEM ALL THE TIME. "THEY'RE REALLY AN IMPORTANT, INTEGRAL PART OF THE COMMUNITY. "AND OUT OF THIS HAS REALLY GROWN THIS REALLY UNIQUE FORM OF DEAF POETRY." AND I SAID, "WHAT'S REALLY-- I MEAN, IT'S UNIQUE IN THAT "AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE IS VERY BEAUTIFUL TO WATCH, "AND PEOPLE MAY HAVE SEEN THAT, "BUT THERE'S ALSO, IN THIS CASE, THERE'S A SPOKEN "SO THAT THERE'S A VOICE WHICH IS BEING SPOKEN. "SO, YOU HAVE 2 COMMUNITIES WHO CAN EXPERIENCE "THE SAME ACTIVITY OR EVENT OR POETRY "BUT IN A DIFFERENT WAY, OBVIOUSLY. "ALTHOUGH, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HEARING CAN SEE THE BEAUTY "OF THE SIGN LANGUAGE AND THE BODY MOVEMENTS, "BUT THEY CAN ALSO HEAR WHAT'S GOING ON, AND THE DEAF PEOPLE EXPERIENCE POETRY IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE." AND SO THEY PERFORMED, AND ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT WAS THERE WAS GREGORY CALEVACAS. AND GREGORY CALEVACAS WAS HEAD OF THE NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS LITERATURE PROGRAM, JUST A WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL PERSON, WHO ENDED UP DYING OF AIDS-- ONE OF THE FIRST PEOPLE I KNEW IN TERMS OF WHO DID DIE OF AIDS. IT WAS A GREAT LOSS. BUT HE IMMEDIATELY ALSO SAW THAT THIS WAS REALLY A UNIQUE, WONDERFUL THING. AND, AFTERWARDS, I KNOW, CAME UP TO ME AND CAME UP TO KENNY AND SAID, "YOU KNOW, "WE REALLY WANT TO DO A LOT MORE WITH THIS. WE'D LOVE TO GET YOU GUYS AROUND THE STATE." AND OUT OF THAT GREW, REALLY, FLYING WORDS PROJECT, BEING ABLE TO GO OUT AND REACH AN AUDIENCE WAY BEYOND HERE. SO, I MEAN, MY FIRST-- MY FIRST CONTACT WITH IT WAS IMMEDIATELY EYE-OPENING... AND EAR-OPENING AT THE SAME TIME, WAS THAT THIS IS REALLY THEM-- THIS IS REALLY WONDERFUL, IT'S UNIQUE. THERE'S NOTHING ELSE LIKE THIS GOING ON ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY AND IT'S SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE AND SOMETHING TO GET OUT TO A MUCH WIDER COMMUNITY. SO, THAT WAS KIND OF THE--YOU KNOW, WITHOUT REMEMBERING THE EXACT DETAILS OF THE FIRST PERFORMANCE, BUT I THINK IT WAS JIM THAT KIND OF INTRODUCED SOME THINGS HERE. BUT I DO REMEMBER VERY, VERY CLEARLY BEING IMPRESSED AND VERY CLEARLY SAYING, "OK, HERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY "TO REALLY EXPOSE THEM TO A MUCH LARGER AUDIENCE THROUGH THIS CONFERENCE THAT WE HAD." WOMAN: DID YOU HAVE ANY-- [DOOR LATCH CLICKS] FIRST OF ALL, IS ALL THIS NOISE A PROBLEM, WITH ALL THOSE DOORS? - WELL... WOMAN: SHALL WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BEFORE WE GO ON? MAN: I'M GONNA HAVE A LITTLE CHECK AND TAKE A LITTLE CHAT. IF YOU WANNA DO THAT. THEY'RE GONNA-- - OK. - OK. WOMAN: THAT WAS SO GREAT. HA HA HA! THERE WERE SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS IN WHAT YOU JUST SAID. DID YOU HAVE ANY AWARENESS OR DID ANYBODY EXPLAIN TO YOU THE SORT OF ADVERSARIAL RELATIONSHIP THAT DEAF PEOPLE HAD WITH THE FACT THAT... EVEN ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT ASL COULD BE POETIC? LIKE, DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT WHOLE CULTURAL LINGUISTIC THING THAT WAS HAPPENING THAT WAS THE CONTEXT FOR WHY THAT WAS SO AMAZING, LIKE-- MAN: NO, ACTUALLY, I HAD NO IDEA AT ALL. - NO IDEA? - I MEAN, TO ME IT JUST SEEMED-- I MEAN, THE FIRST TIME I SAID, "YOU KNOW, THIS IS-- "THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSION OF POETRY, AND IT SEEMED TO BE A BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSION OF THE DEAF LANGUAGE, ASL." NO IDEA THAT THERE'D BE ANY THOUGHTS THAT THERE'S NO WAY THAT THIS COULDN'T BE USED AS A POETIC FORM. WOMAN: MM-HMM. DID ANYBODY EXPLAIN IT TO YOU EVEN LATER, LIKE-- - NO, I-- - NOBODY--THIS IS THE FIRST-- THIS IS THE FIRST I'VE EVER HEARD OF IT. WOMAN: IN BRIEF, THE REASON WHY THIS IS BEING MADE OR WHY I'M TRYING TO MAKE IT IS BECAUSE BEFORE THAT TIME, DEAF PEOPLE WOULD--THEY WOULD TRANSLATE ENGLISH POETRY, THEY WOULD TRY TO WRITE ENGLISH POETRY, BUT BECAUSE ASL WASN'T CONSIDERED A REAL LANGUAGE-- EVEN THE DEAF PEOPLE THOUGHT THAT IT WAS LESS THAN ENGLISH-- AND ENGLISH IS BASED ON SOUND AND RHYME AND RHYTHM AND ALL THIS STUFF THAT WE DON'T HAVE THAT IN OUR LANGUAGE. SO, POETRY'S ENGLISH, AND THEY'D READ IT AND NOT GET IT BECAUSE OF THE CONVOLUTED WAY THAT ENGLISH WORKS. - IT'S VERY LINEAR. - YES. AND SO, THE REAL REASON WHY HERE IN ROCHESTER WAS EVEN MORE AMAZING THAN YOU ALREADY KNEW. I MEAN, YOU KNEW IT WAS. AND THE REASON IT WAS EVEN MORE AMAZING IS BECAUSE WHAT WAS HAPPENING HERE WAS PEOPLE SAYING, "I'M NOT GONNA TRANSLATE ENGLISH AND I'M NOT GONNA WRITE ENGLISH. I'M GOING TO GENERATE IT IN ASL FIRST BECAUSE THERE ARE POETIC FORMS, THERE ARE PARALLELS--AND WENDY'S GONNA TALK ABOUT THIS-- THAT THE RHYTHM AND THE WIT AND THE RHYME AND ALL THAT CAN BE DONE IN SIGN LANGUAGE. IT'S JUST DONE IN A DIFFERENT WAY. AND SO THERE WAS THIS REALIZATION AND EXPERIMENTATION THAT HAPPENED HERE. AND THERE WERE A COUPLE OTHER PEOPLE DOING IT IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, BUT IT WAS FAIRLY ENDEMIC TO THE ROCHESTER AREA THAT THIS EXPLOSION WAS REALLY HAPPENING. MAN: MM-HMM. WOMAN: AND SO, WHAT YOU WERE INTUITING WAS EVEN MORE RIGHT THAN YOU KNEW, YOU KNOW, THAT IT WAS INCREDIBLE EVEN AMONGST THE DEAF PEOPLE. AND SOME PEOPLE WERE RESISTANT. THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH IT. THEY LOOKED AT IT AND WENT, "THIS ISN'T POETRY. "IT'S SOMETHING ELSE, BUT IT'S NOT POETRY BECAUSE POETRY'S ENGLISH, IT'S NOT OURS." IT'S LIKE, "IT IS YOURS, AND YOU'RE DOING IT." - YEAH. - WHAT YOU'RE DOING-- MAN: WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING 'CAUSE THAT PARALLELS SO MANY OTHER KINDS OF VOICES COMING FORWARD. I MEAN, THERE WAS A TIME WHEN IT WAS THE SAME WITH WOMEN POETS, YOU KNOW, LIKE POETRY IS THE LANGUAGE OF MEN, I MEAN, AS SEEN BY THE MEN, YOU KNOW. AND YOU KNOW THE WOMAN'S VOICE, YOU KNOW, IT SHOULD BE IN THE HOME. IT SHOULD BE ABOUT NURTURING AND RAISING CHILDREN, BUT IT SHOULD NOT BE ABOUT THE WORLD. AND SO, I MEAN, IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES, THERE WAS A WHOLE WOMEN CLAIMING THEIR VOICES AND, YOU KNOW, THE ESTABLISHMENT SAYING, YOU KNOW, "THAT'S REALLY NOT, YOU KNOW, WORTHY OF BEING SEEN AS GREAT POETRY." AND THE SAME THING, YOU KNOW, WITH BLACK PEOPLE, BLACK POETS, AND, YOU KNOW, JUST A NUMBER OF OTHER OF GROUPS LIKE THAT THAT HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THEIR VOICES AND THE OVERWHELMING, YOU KNOW, THE OVERRIDING ACADEMIC STRUCTURE SAYING, "NO, THAT'S NOT. I MEAN, WE KNOW WHAT IS GOOD POETRY, "AND IT'S THESE WHITE MEN, YOU KNOW, WHO ARE THE ONES THAT CAN DO IT." SO, IT'S VERY PARALLEL TO A NUMBER OF OTHER SITUATIONS. WOMAN: RIGHT. IN THIS CASE, WHITE HEARING MEN. HA! MAN: YES, YES, RIGHT. - YEAH. - YEAH. WOMAN: THAT'S A REALLY GREAT PARALLEL TO MAKE. IT'S TRUE. SO, YOU WEREN'T AWARE OF THAT. - NO. - AND WHEN, UM-- HAVE YOU USED INTERPRETERS BEFORE? BECAUSE EVEN BEFORE THE ASL POETS, THERE WERE DEAF POETS, THERE WERE SOME INTERPRETIVE PERFORMANCE-- - WE DID. - AND I'M NOT REMEMBERING IF YOU USED THEM BEFORE-- - YES, YES. MAN: WHENEVER WE WOULD HAVE A LARGE WELL-KNOWN WRITER, WE WOULD GET AN INTERPRETER TO INTERPRET FOR THE DEAF. AND, YOU KNOW, WE MAY NOT HAVE THAT LARGE AN AUDIENCE THAT WOULD COME, BUT IF THERE WERE 2 OR 3 OR 4 PEOPLE, THEN THEY WERE ABLE TO HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF THAT WRITER AND WHATEVER THEY WERE SAYING OR READING FROM. SO, WE DID--WE DID HAVE INTERPRETERS PRIOR TO THE DEAF POETRY MOVEMENT HERE. AND EVEN AT THAT TIME, I REMEMBER, UH... LOOKING AT THE INTERPRETERS AS THEY WERE INTERPRETING AND JUST SORT OF SAYING, "WOW, YOU KNOW, THAT'S REALLY INTERESTING TO WATCH, YOU KNOW," AND YOU KIND OF WOULD HEAR-- AND ESPECIALLY IF IT WAS, YOU KNOW, LIKE, IF THERE WAS A WORD, LIKE, "FUCK," YOU KNOW. AND SO, LIKE, EVERYBODY IN THE AUDIENCE, YOU KNOW, WOULD-- THEIR EYES WOULD GO, "HOW ARE THEY GONNA INTERPRET THAT?" YOU KNOW? HA HA! SO, IT WAS--YOU KNOW, THERE WAS THAT-- I MEAN, NOBODY--I SORT OF DIDN'T PUT 2 AND 2 TOGETHER TO SAY, "WELL, YOU KNOW, THAT WOULD BE WONDERFUL AS A SEPARATE KIND OF THING." IT WAS JUST THAT IT WAS CURIOUS TO SEE HOW, YOU KNOW, THE SPOKEN LANGUAGE WAS INTERPRETED THROUGH THE DEAF. AND THAT WAS REALLY MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WAS THROUGH INTERPRETERS WHO WERE INTERPRETING SOMETHING THAT I WAS HEARING FROM A HEARING WRITER OF SOME KIND. WOMAN: MM-HMM. DID YOU EVER--AHEM-- DID YOU FEEL FROM THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE THAT YOU UNDERSTOOD MORE ABOUT THE CULTURE OF THE DEAF IN ANY SENSE? LIKE, YOU WERE GETTING A READ ON THE LANGUAGE AND THAT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND IT WAS INTERESTING TO LISTEN TO, LIKE SOMEBODY VOICE IT AND ALL THAT KIND OF SENSE. DID YOU FEEL LIKE--DID YOU GET ANY MORE OF THE SENSIBILITY OF WHAT DEAFNESS WAS OR WHAT THE IMPRESSION WAS OR ANY OF THOSE SORTS OF ISSUES-- MAN: WELL, YEAH. I MEAN, AS A RESULT OF THEM, THERE WERE A COUPLE OF THINGS. I REMEMBER, UM... THROUGH, YOU KNOW, THROUGH PETER AND THROUGH KENNY, I MEAN, GETTING A SENSE OF HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS FOR SOMEBODY WHO HAD BEEN DEAF SINCE BIRTH TO KIND OF LEARN TO WRITE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, THE WRITTEN LANGUAGE AND HAVE A SENSE OF THE GRAMMAR AND THINGS LIKE THAT. AND IT JUST SORT OF MADE ME THINK, "WELL, YEAH, "I MEAN, IT'S TRUE. YOU LEARN THE LANGUAGE FIRST, "YOU KNOW, AS YOU'RE GROWING UP, BY HEARING IT. AND IT'S ONLY WHEN YOU GET TO BE, WHAT, 5 OR 6 YEARS OLD THAT YOU'RE SUDDENLY STARTING TO WRITE, BUT YOU HAVE THIS WHOLE BACKGROUND OF, YOU KNOW, HOW THINGS ARE SAID AND THE GRAMMAR OF IT. AND SO, SUDDENLY, I HAD THAT EXPERIENCE OF SAYING, "BOY, THAT MUST BE DIFFICULT." CAN YOU IMAGINE COMING ACROSS A LANGUAGE THAT, YOU KNOW, SUDDENLY YOU HAVE TO WRITE IT OUT AND YOU HAVE NOTHING REALLY THAT'S PRIOR TO THAT? SO, I DID HAVE A SENSE OF THAT. AND THEN I ALSO HAD, AS A RESULT OF IT, THE SENSE OF THE FEELING WITHIN THE DEAF COMMUNITY THAT... YOU KNOW, THIS IS OUR OWN COMMUNITY, AND IT'S NOT AS IF IT IS-- IT'S NOT AS IF WE'RE-- WE'RE LESS THAN EVERYBODY ELSE BECAUSE WE CANNOT HEAR AND SPEAK THE LANGUAGE AND THAT THIS LANGUAGE, THIS AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, IS OUR OWN LANGUAGE THAT WE WANT TO EMBRACE AS OUR LANGUAGE. AND EVEN IF--AND THIS WAS KIND OF THE FIRST TIME OF HEARING AND THINKING ABOUT-- EVEN IF COCHLEAR IMPLANTS WERE AVAILABLE, YOU KNOW, TO SAY, "NO." "YOU KNOW, THIS EXPERIENCE IS ITS OWN TRUE EXPERIENCE WITHIN THIS DEAF COMMUNITY, AND THAT IS ENOUGH." IT SHOULDN'T BE THAT YOU HAVE TO THEN, YOU KNOW, TRY TO MAKE SOMEBODY LIKE THE HEARING COMMUNITY. SO, I, AS A RESULT OF IT, YES. I MEAN, ALL THESE KINDS OF ISSUES WERE ONES THAT WERE SPOKEN ABOUT, THAT I WAS, YOU KNOW, KIND OF THINKING ABOUT AND HEARING ABOUT FROM DEAF PEOPLE OR FROM HEARING PEOPLE WHO WERE, YOU KNOW, AT NTID WHO WERE THE PERSON WHO WERE THE INTERPRETERS. SO, YEAH, SUDDENLY, IT WAS LIKE A WHOLE CULTURE THAT I WAS UNAWARE OF, AND THE ISSUES OF BEING PART OF THAT CULTURE STARTED TO COME FORWARD TO ME AND GET AN UNDERSTANDING OF IT, YEAH. WOMAN: YEAH, THE TIMING OF IT IS REALLY INTERESTING BECAUSE RIGHT AROUND THEN IS WHEN THE DEAF PRESIDENT NOW STUFF WAS GOING ON AT GALLAUDET AND ALL THIS SORT OF LIKE DEAF PRIDE STUFF WAS HAPPENING. AND THIS THING OF ASL, YOU KNOW, WE--LIKE A BANNER. MAN: YEAH. WOMAN: THE REASON IT ALL HAPPENED AT THE SAME TIME, JIM COHN KIND OF DESCRIBES IT AS A PERFECT STORM. IT'S LIKE IT'S THE RIGHT PLACE, THE RIGHT TIME, THE RIGHT PEOPLE, THE RIGHT ENERGY, THE RIGHT POLITICAL MOMENT. - YES, YEAH. WOMAN: THE RIGHT COALESCENCE OF ALL THOSE THINGS AND THIS UNDERSTANDING THAT, YOU KNOW, OUR LANGUAGE IS A LANGUAGE, WHICH HAD BEEN LINGUISTICALLY VERIFIED BY SOME RESEARCHERS AT GALLAUDET, LIKE, '65, '66, BUT TOOK A WHILE TO PERCOLATE OUT, AS YOU KNOW. AND THEN ALL THESE STUDENTS WHO ARE FROM SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF, OR MAINSTREAMED SCHOOLS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY, ARE COMING TOGETHER IN THIS PLACE, AND IT WAS LIKE A SLAM IN ITSELF, BEING IN THIS COMMUNITY WITH SO MANY DEAF PEOPLE. IT'S LIKE ALL THIS CREATIVE ENERGY IN ONE PLACE. - YEAH. - SO... MAN: AND THE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, WHICH-- FUNNY ABOUT THAT TIME, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS SO INTERESTING, WAS THE IDEA THAT THE FRENCH USED ASL, WHERE THE ENGLISH IN ENGLAND DID NOT. AND SO THAT THERE WAS A BETTER ABILITY FOR, YOU KNOW, DEAF AMERICANS WHO UNDERSTOOD ASL TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE FRENCH WHO WERE DOING IT, AS OPPOSED TO THE ENGLISH, WHICH WERE DOING, LIKE, THE SPELLING OUT OF LETTERS. YOU KNOW, AND I THINK, "WELL, THAT'S INTERESTING." LIKE, HERE'S THIS COMMUNICATION THAT GOES ON BETTER THAN-- FOR US TO SPEAK TO FRENCH PEOPLE, HEARING PEOPLE WOULD SAY, "OH, YOU HAVE TO LEARN FRENCH "OR THEY HAVE TO LEARN ENGLISH. "BUT THE BRITISH--WE CAN ALWAYS SPEAK WITH THE BRITISH EVEN WITH THEIR FUNNY ACCENTS." BUT THE IDEA OF AMERICAN DEAF BEING ABLE TO SPEAK, LIKE, IMMEDIATELY WITH THE FRENCH DEAF WAS KIND OF A FASCINATING KIND OF THING FOR ME. - RIGHT. - JUST A LITTLE TIDBIT THAT-- - THAT'S ALMOST RIGHT. - ALMOST, BUT NOT-- WOMAN: ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE. WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT ASL-- WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT THERE WAS A FRENCH EDUCATOR. THE FIRST SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF IN THE ENTIRE WORLD WERE IN FRANCE. - UH-HUH. WOMAN: AND GALLAUDET-- THOMAS HOPKINS GALLAUDET-- - OK. - HAD GONE OVER TO FRANCE TO LEARN METHODS, BROUGHT A DEAF MAN FROM THERE OVER HERE, STARTED THE FIRST SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF IN AMERICA IN CONNECTICUT, AND THEN ALL THE KIDS WHO HAD THEIR OWN SORT OF SIGNS AND HOME SIGNS AND THEIR OWN REGIONAL THINGS CAME THERE, TOOK WHAT THEY ALREADY HAD, AND THEN THIS FRENCH GUY TAUGHT THEM SOME STUFF THAT GOT FRENCH LANGUAGE, FRENCH SIGN LANGUAGE MIXED IN WITH IT. - OH. UH-HUH. SO, THE REASON THAT THEY CAN COMMUNICATE SO WELL ISN'T BECAUSE IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF FRENCH SIGN LANGUAGE IN ASL. - OH, OK. - SO, IT'S NOT EXACTLY THE SAME. SO, YOU'RE VERY, VERY CLOSE, BUT IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME, BUT THERE'S SO MANY SIGNS THAT ARE SIMILAR, AND THE GRAMMAR'S VERY SIMILAR THAT IT IS A MUCH MORE IMMEDIATE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE THEN THROUGH SIGN LANGUAGE AND A LOT OF OTHER SIGN LANGUAGE AROUND THE WORLD, 'CAUSE THEY'RE DIFFERENT IN EVERY COUNTRY. MAN: RIGHT. MM-HMM. WOMAN: AND YOU BROUGHT UP COCHLEAR IMPLANTS, WHICH IS A BIG, BIG HOT TOPIC. MAN: WHICH IS SOMETHING I NEVER WOULD HAVE EVEN KNOWN ABOUT OR THOUGHT ABOUT WITHOUT HAVING THIS EXPERIENCE WITH DEAF POETRY. I--BASICALLY EVERYTHING YOU SAID WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED. CAN'T REALLY THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE, UNLESS THERE'S ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD ABOUT ANY OF IT AT ALL, ANYTHING THAT COMES TO MIND YOU'D LIKE TO-- YOU SAID SOME WONDERFUL THINGS I'M GONNA PULL OUT ALREADY, BUT ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO-- MAN: NO, I MEAN, IT'S JUST-- I REMEMBER JUST THAT LOSS, ACTUALLY, WHEN PETER MOVED AWAY. AND JUST KIND OF THINKING, "WOW, THIS IS--I MEAN, THIS WAS "SOMETHING WHICH WAS SO WONDERFULLY OF THIS AREA AND OF THIS COMMUNITY." AND THEN, WITHOUT HAVING THE CONTINUATION ONGOING ON A REGULAR BASIS WITH FLYING WORDS WAS JUST-- I REMEMBER JUST FEELING THAT, VERY PERSONALLY, AS A BIG LOSS, AND A LOSS FOR THE OVERALL KIND OF POETRY COMMUNITY IN ROCHESTER. SO, WHENEVER THEY GET TOGETHER AND DO IT AGAIN, ALWAYS, YOU KNOW, EXCITED ABOUT THAT. WOMAN: THEY'LL BE IN TOWN FEBRUARY DOING A SHOW AT NTID, AND THERE IS A DEAF GUY IN TOWN NAMED JEREMY CAREAU THAT JUST MOVED OUT A FEW YEARS AGO FROM SEATTLE WHO HAS AN OPEN--A DEAF POETRY SERIES, AN OPEN MIC SERIES, FIRST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH OVER AT JITTERS AT SOUTHTOWN. SO, HE'S TRYING TO GET IT GOING AGAIN. HE'S GOT A GROUP CALLED THE PRESERVERS, AND IT'S SIGN LANGUAGE PRESERVATION. AND HE'S TRYING TO GET A DEAF POETRY SCENE GOING, AND HE'S HAVING A LOT OF TROUBLE. - REALLY? - LOT OF TROUBLE GETTING IT GOING. AND I SHOULD PUT HIM IN TOUCH WITH YOU. - YOU SHOULD, YEAH. - MAYBE THERE'S SOME WAY YOU COULD HELP HIM OUT. - OH, YEAH. - HE HAD A GALLERY, A STUDIO SPACE OVER ON UNIVERSITY, DOWN AT THE END OF THE STREET, DOWN--WAY DOWN WHERE IT BECOMES CHANNEL WHATEVER IT IS DOWN THERE. - RIGHT. - AND HE WAS PUTTING OUT A LOT OF MONEY AND NOT ABLE TO GET A LOT BACK. SO, NOW JITTERS IS LENDING THEM THEIR STAGE, AND HE'S DOING THAT ONCE IN A WHILE. BUT I'LL PUT YOU GUYS IN TOUCH. - PLEASE, 'CAUSE YOU KNOW-- - HE'S TRIED TO REVIVE IT. MAN: WE WOULD LOVE TO, YOU KNOW, TO HAVE IT HERE. WOMAN: RIGHT. MAN: AND THERE'S ALRE--THERE'S A BIG AUDIENCE OF PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, WHO REMEMBER THAT AND THEY'RE LOOKING FOR MORE OF IT. - SO, YES. - THANK YOU SO MUCH. - SURE. - WONDERFUL. WOMAN: IT'S EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED. I APPRECIATE IT. - GREAT. - THANKS, JOE. MAN: WOULD IT HELP TO ASK NUMBER 1 AGAIN BECAUSE OF THE NOISE PROBLEM? THAT'S A LONG THING TO HAVE TO SAY AGAIN, BUT IF-- DO YOU THINK WE NEED IT? WAS IT THAT DISTRACTING? MAN: CAN YOU DO IT, JOE? WOMAN: THAT WHOLE... JOE: THAT WHOLE... - I'M SORRY. - OK. WOMAN: IF YOU CAN, THAT'D BE GREAT. - ...THE 4 GUYS-- - YEAH, RIGHT. WOMAN: IT HAD A FLOW, IF YOU REMEMBER HOW YOU BEGAN. AND JIM AND THEN HOW AND THEN THE BANQUET AND ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF. - RIGHT, YEAH. - I'M SORRY. - OK. - THANKS, JOE. WOMAN: IT WOULD BE GREAT. THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF THE MEAT WAS, TOO, SO... MAN: LET ME SEE THE QUESTION. WOMAN: IT WAS JUST HOW IT ALL BEGAN AND WHO APPROACHED YOU FIRST WITH HAV-- WERE YOU AWARE OF THE DEAF COMMUNITY IN ROCHESTER, AND HOW DID IT HAPPEN THAT YOU GOT SORT OF DRAWN INTO THIS WHOLE DEAF CULTURE THING? JOE: YEAH, WELL, I WAS AWARE THAT THERE WAS A DEAF COMMUNITY AND JUST AWARE OF IT BECAUSE OF ROCHESTER BEING WHAT ROCHESTER IS, AND THERE'S ALWAYS DEAF PEOPLE AROUND, NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN BE AT THE PUBLIC MARKET, YOU CAN BE AT A RESTAURANT, YOU CAN BE AT A BAR WITH THE GAME ON OR SOMETHING, AND THERE'S GONNA BE DEAF PEOPLE AROUND. AND IT JUST--I MEAN, I THINK IT'S ONE OF THE REALLY WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT ROCHESTER AND KIND OF ADDS A CERTAIN KIND OF, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THAT OTHER COMMUNITIES DON'T HAVE. SO, I WAS AWARE OF THAT. I WASN'T REALLY AWARE THAT THERE WAS A DEAF POETRY GOING ON AT ALL. BUT I THINK THE CONNECTION WAS MADE-- THERE WERE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIKE JIM COHN, WENDY LOW, WHO WERE THEMSELVES, YOU KNOW, HEARING WRITERS, POETS, WHO WERE AT WRITERS & BOOKS DOING READINGS AND... BUT WERE ALSO OUT AT NTID AS INTERPRETERS. SO, THEY--AT THAT TIME, WE HAD JUST MOVED INTO THIS BUILDING IN 1985, AND IT WAS-- SUDDENLY, WE HAD A LOT MORE SPACE THAN WE HAD HAD BEFORE. BEFORE, WE HAD ONE ROOM, SO IF WE HAD A CLASS OR A WORKSHOP, YOU COULDN'T HAVE A READING. AND SO, YOU COULD DO ONE THING AT A TIME. BUT WHEN WE MOVED IN HERE, WE COULD HAVE-- YOU KNOW, WITH 3 FLOORS, WE COULD HAVE 2 OR 3 OR 4 CLASSES GOING ON AND A POETRY READING OR SOME OTHER KIND OF PERFORMANCE. SO, SUDDENLY, WE WERE ABLE TO HAVE A LOT MORE THINGS GOING ON. AND IT WAS A TIME WHEN IT WAS-- IT WAS A REALLY ACTIVE TIME OF PEOPLE KIND OF DISCOVERING POETRY AND KIND OF WRITING IT AND WANTING TO PERFORM IT. I MEAN, IT WAS GOING FROM MUCH MORE OF A, YOU KNOW, THE WRITTEN POEM TO THERE WAS A REAL SENSE NOW OF PERFORMANCE OF POETRY. AND SO, THERE WAS THAT CONNECTION THAT WAS MADE THROUGH JIM OR THROUGH WENDY OF THERE WAS THIS BEGINNING OF DEAF POETRY AND TO HAVE IT, YOU KNOW, LIKE, TAKE PLACE HERE. AND ALSO, THERE WAS JAZZBERRY'S, WHICH WAS ANOTHER PLACE, AND SO THERE WERE READINGS AND THINGS GOING ON. BUT, YOU KNOW, WHOEVER IT WAS--JIM OR WENDY-- THERE WAS A DEAF POETRY EVENING DONE HERE. AND I REMEMBER AT THE TIME JUST BEING REALLY AMAZED BY IT AND SAYING, "WOW, THIS IS REALLY UNIQUE." AND I WAS AWARE OF POETRY ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY IN VARIOUS MOVEMENTS GOING ON. YOU KNOW, THE BEGINNING OF POETRY SLAMS IN CHICAGO, LANGUAGE POETRY GOING ON OUT IN SAN FRANCISCO AND L.A. AND EVEN COWBOY POETRY, YOU KNOW, OUT IN MONTANA AND PLACES LIKE THAT. SO, THERE WAS SOME VERY-- THINGS THAT WERE VERY UNIQUE TO SPECIFIC PLACES. THERE WAS A CERTAIN KIND OF NEW YORK CITY KIND OF PERFORMANCE POETRY GOING ON. [COUGHS] SO, I KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON, AND SEEING THIS, I SAID, "YOU KNOW, THIS IS--THIS IS NOT HAPPENING ANYWHERE ELSE. "THIS IS COMPLETELY UNIQUE TO ROCHESTER-- [VEHICLE ENGINE REVVING LOUDLY] AND IT'S REALLY WONDERFUL. I MEAN, IT COULD--IT HAPPENS, IT'S HAPPENING HERE BECAUSE THERE IS A DEAF COMMUNITY THAT EXISTS OF THE SIZE THAT IT DOES. AND NOT ONLY WAS THERE THE--I MEAN, EVEN BEYOND THE UNIQUENESS OF SEEING DEAF POETRY PERFORMED WITH AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE AND EVEN MORE OF A KIND OF A BODY MOVEMENT, THERE WAS THE OTHER ASPECT OF IT, WHICH WAS HAVING IT INTERPRETED FOR THE HEARING. AND THE TWO OF THEM TOGETHER MADE IT EVEN MORE UNIQUE FOR ME, AND I THOUGHT, "THIS IS WONDERFUL. THIS IS GREAT. "IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S GROWN OUT OF HERE. "THIS IS OUR OWN THING IN ROCHESTER, AND IT SHOULD GET A LARGER AUDIENCE OUTSIDE OF HERE." AND I REMEMBER THE OPPORTUNITY CAME ALONG. WE HAD A CONFERENCE HERE, WHICH WAS IN...I DON'T KNOW, 1985, '86, SOMETHING LIKE THAT, AND WE HAD PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE STATE. AND IT WAS DONE IN COLLABORATION WITH NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS. AND SO, WHEN WE HAD THE PEOPLE THERE, WE HAD 'EM HERE FOR 2 DAYS, 2 OR 3 DAYS. WE WANTED TO INTRODUCE THEM TO THINGS THAT WERE UNIQUE TO ROCHESTER. SO, WE HAD A LUNCH AND WE HAD WHITE HOTS, YOU KNOW, SO THEY COULD KIND OF-- YOU KNOW, "WHAT'S A WHITE HOT?" "WELL, HERE'S A WHITE HOT." AND WE HAD GENESEE BEER FOR THEM TO DRINK. "HERE'S..." YOU KNOW. AND THEN THE OTHER THING WAS, WE HAD A DINNER THAT WE HELD AT CITY HALL. SO, WE WANTED THEM TO SEE THIS ARCHITECTURE, THIS WONDERFUL ARCHITECTURE OF CITY HALL AND BEAUTIFUL OLD BUILDING RESTORED. AND I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THEM SEE DEAF POETRY, BUT I DIDN'T SAY TO ANYBODY IT WAS DEAF POETRY. WHAT I SAID WAS THAT "YOU'LL BE HEARING SOME LOCAL POETS BEFORE DINNER." AND I REMEMBER PEOPLE SAYING, "OH, BOY. WE GOTTA LISTEN TO THE LOCAL POETS." YOU KNOW, "CAN'T WE JUST EAT?" YOU KNOW. SO, BEFORE THE DINNER, I WENT UP AND I SAID-- AND I SAID TO PEOPLE, "YOU KNOW, YOU'RE VISITING ROCHESTER, "MANY OF YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME. "ONE OF THE REALLY UNIQUE THINGS ABOUT ROCHESTER IS THAT WE HAVE "THE HIGHEST PER CAPITA DEAF COMMUNITY IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY HERE. "SO, AS YOU GO AROUND ROCHESTER, YOU WILL SEE PEOPLE, "DEAF PEOPLE SIGNING. "AND IT'S A WONDERFUL THING THAT MAKES IT A UNIQUE COMMUNITY. "AND ALSO, THERE IS A KIND OF POETRY THAT'S GROWN UP OUT OF THIS THAT I WOULD LIKE YOU TO EXPERIENCE." SO, I INTRODUCED--IT WAS KENNY AND PETER AND DEBBIE RENNIE. AND THEY PERFORMED, AND THE PEOPLE THERE WERE-- I MEAN, THESE WERE PUBLISHERS FROM NEW YORK AND POETS AND ARTS ADMINISTRATORS. THEY WERE JUST BLOWN AWAY BY EVERYTHING. "OH, MY GOD. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE." AND ONE OF THE PEOPLE THERE WAS GREGORY CALEVACAS. AND GREGORY WAS THE HEAD OF THE NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS LITERATURE PROGRAM, WONDERFUL PERSON, THE FIRST PERSON I ACTUALLY KNEW PERSONALLY WHO HAD DIED OF AIDS, WHICH WAS A GREAT LOSS. BUT HE WAS VERY FORWARD-THINKING AND REALLY IMMEDIATELY SAW WHAT WAS WONDERFUL AND GREAT ABOUT THIS DEAF POETRY. AND AFTERWARDS, COME UP AND SAID, "THIS-- "THANK YOU FOR INTRODUCING-- THIS IS WONDERFUL. PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF NEW YORK HAVE TO SEE ABOUT THIS." AND HE TALKED TO KENNY AND PETER. AND AS A RESULT OF THAT, HE ARRANGED FOR FUNDING FOR THEM TO TOUR THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES AND THROUGHOUT NEW YORK STATE-- THEY DID ALSO OTHER PLACES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES-- BUT THROUGHOUT NEW YORK STATE INTRODUCED DEAF POETRY TO AUDIENCES AROUND NEW YORK. AND THAT FIRST THING OF "YES, THIS IS GOOD. "PEOPLE CAN RECOGNIZE IT HERE, HOW UNIQUE AND WONDERFUL IT IS, "BUT ALSO PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY AND THE STATE TO RECOGNIZE IT AND TO GET OUT AND TO REACH AUDIENCES WITH THAT." SO, THAT'S MY FIRST MEMORY OF HOW IT HAPPENED AND HOW TO KIND OF HOW IT WENT TO A KIND OF A NEXT STAGE. WOMAN: GREAT. THAT WAS ALMOST-- THAT WAS ALMOST EVERYTHING. THE ONLY OTHER THING I WANTED TO ASK, UM... WAS YOU DID BRING GINSBERG IN-- - YES, YES. - ONCE, TWICE. JOE: TWICE, YES, UH-HUH. WOMAN: 'CAUSE ONE TIME I INTERPRETED, ONE TIME CINDY BARRETT INTERPRETED, IF YOU REMEMBER, AT THE DINNER. DID HE EVER MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE WITH WHEN HE'D DONE THAT WORKSHOP WITH BOB PANARA? THERE WAS AN INCREDIBLE WORKSHOP THAT HE DID WHEN HE MET WITH A DEAF POET BEFORE PETER AND KENNY GOT GOING, BEFORE DEBBIE GOT GOING. - UH-HUH. WOMAN: KIND OF A SEMINAL MOMENT FOR DEAF POETRY WHEN THEY HAD THIS SORT OF WORKSHOP. AND HE SAID IT MADE A BIG IMPRESSION ON HIM, AND HE TOLD ME ABOUT THAT. DID HE MENTION ANYTHING LIKE THAT-- JOE: YEAH, HE DID. I REMEMBER HIM, THE SAME THING THAT WAS JUST KIND OF A REALIZATION THAT THERE IS A WHOLE OTHER LANGUAGE OUT THERE FOR POETRY THAT HE WAS UNAWARE OF. AND THAT--YOU KNOW, THE SIGNING OF AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, UM-- I MEAN, AT THAT TIME, IT WAS-- WHAT HE WAS SEEING BEING SIGNED WAS, YOU KNOW, BASICALLY, IT WAS JUST A SIGNING OF KIND OF WHAT WOULD BE A BASIC SORT OF POETRY. I MEAN, IT WASN'T POETRY THAT WAS DESIGNED FOR AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE THAT MUCH. BUT I REMEMBER HIM BEING VERY IMPRESSED BY IT AND THINKING, "YOU KNOW, THIS IS--YEAH, THERE'S SOMETHING REALLY UNIQUE ABOUT THIS." YEAH, I DO REMEMBER THAT. MM-HMM. WOMAN: GREAT. WONDERFUL. THANK YOU. THANKS FOR GOING THROUGH THAT ALL AGAIN. - ALL RIGHT. - ONE MORE THING. CAN I GET YOU TO SPELL YOUR NAME? - YES. - FOR THE CAMERA. JOE: OH, YOU WANT ME TO JUST DO IT FOR THE CAMERA? - YES, SIR. - OK. JOE FLAHERTY, F-L-A-H-E-R-T-Y. MAN: AND YOU ARE THE... JOE: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WRITERS & BOOKS. MAN: THANK YOU. [LOUD TONE] WOMAN: THANK YOU SO MUCH. - MM-HMM. - [WOMAN CONTINUES INDISTINCTLY] - SURE. - I'LL HAVE WENDY COME IN... WOMAN: WHAT I'M GONNA ASK YOU TO BEGIN WITH IS BACK IN THE TIME OF WHICH WE'RE SPEAKING IN THE EIGHTIES. THINGS STARTED TO HAPPEN AND BE CHANGING IN TERMS OF WHAT ASL WAS AND WHETHER THERE WAS EVEN THIS THING CALLED POETRY. AND, AS YOU KNOW, THERE WAS TENSION ABOUT WHETHER THE PEOPLE WOULD EVEN-- DEAF PEOPLE WOULD EVEN CALL IT POETRY. SO, JUST ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO START TALKING ABOUT WHERE YOU WHERE AT AND WHAT YOU SAW AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH THE WHOLE SCENE. WENDY: WELL, I WALKED INTO THE DEAF COMMUNITY FAIRLY NAIVE, AND I WAS AN ENGLISH TEACHER AND A POET. AND SO, I WAS AN ENGLISH TEACHER AND A POET TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE DEAF COMMUNITY. SO, THE MOMENT WAS REALLY RIPE FOR ME, BECAUSE I THINK THERE WERE A COUPLE OF MOMENTS THAT MADE ME DECIDE THAT EVEN THOUGH I REALLY STRUGGLED WITH SIGN LANGUAGE-- SIGN LANGUAGE DID NOT COME EASILY TO ME-- THAT IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE FOR ME TO CONTINUE ON THIS ROAD I HAD SET, INSTEAD OF JUST WITHDRAW AND BECOME A TEACHER WITH HEARING STUDENTS. AND ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS HAPPENED EARLY ON WHEN I WAS A COMMUNICATIONS COUNSELOR. AND I WAS SITTING IN AN OFFICE WITH A KID, AND THAT MOMENT CAME AT THE END OF THE CONFERENCE WHEN WE'D DONE EVERYTHING WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO AND THE KID WAS STILL SITTING THERE. AND I STARTED TO TELL ABOUT WHY I LOVED THE SNOW, ESPECIALLY REALLY COLD, SNOWY DAYS AND ABOUT HOW IF YOU'RE OUT IN ROCHESTER BY YOURSELF, YOU FEEL REALLY ALONE AND THERE'S NO ONE OUT AND IT'S REALLY COLD AND YOU FEEL REALLY BRAVE AND ALONE. AND THEN YOU SEE SOMEBODY COMING FROM A DISTANCE, AND YOU CAN'T SEE HIM, IT'S KIND OF HAZY 'CAUSE OF ALL THE SNOW. AND THEN THERE COMES A MOMENT... WHEN IT ALL CLEARS UP, AND IT'S LIKE THERE'S A BOWL OVER YOU, AND THE TWO OF YOU ARE ALONE TOGETHER. AND IT'S LIKE YOU, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST KIND OF NOD AT EACH OTHER, AND YOU'RE THE TWO--YOU'RE THE ONLY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. YOU KNOW? AND THEN THEY... AND I WAS ABLE TO TELL THAT. AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, I FELT LIKE MYSELF IN THE LANGUAGE, AS A PERSON WHO IS ARTICULATE AND SAYS THINGS POETICALLY. AND IT WAS EVEN BETTER IN SIGN LANGUAGE THAN I COULD HAVE EVER MADE IT IN ENGLISH BECAUSE OF THE SPATIAL RELATIONS AND THE VISUAL NATURE OF WHAT I WAS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE. AND SO THAT SAID, AFTER THAT MOMENT, I REMEMBER THIS HUGE FEELING OF RELIEF. YOU CAN BE YOURSELF IN THIS NEW LANGUAGE. AND THEN, I WAS--I GOT TO KNOW SOME PEOPLE, AND I DIDN'T KNOW JIM VERY WELL. AND JIM HAD THIS IDEA THAT HE WAS GONNA DO SOMETHING WITH DEAF POETRY, AND HE WAS TALKING TO ME ABOUT IT. AND I WAS SAYING, "OH, I KNOW SOMEBODY ELSE WHO'S INTERESTED IN IT." WHY, IT MIGHT EVEN HAVE BEEN KENNY. AND I SAID, "OH--" AND JIM WAS LIKE, "WELL, IF THEY'RE INTERESTED IN IT, WHY AREN'T THEY DOING SOMETHING WITH IT?" HA HA HA! AND I THOUGHT, "THIS GUY'S INTERESTING." SO, WHEN JIM STARTED ORGANIZING TO HAVE THE CONFERENCE, WE WERE FRIENDS BY THAT POINT THROUGH THE POETRY COMMUNITY, BECAUSE HE WAS WRITING ENGLISH LANGUAGE POETRY AND PUBLISHING "ACTION" MAGAZINE, AND I HAD STARTED TO HAVE SOME DEAF FRIENDS BECAUSE THERE WAS THIS SIGN LANGUAGE POETRY THING HAPPENING. I MEAN, THIS HAPPENED GRADUALLY THROUGH ALL OF THIS AND BECAUSE I HAD SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH SOMEBODY WHO DID POETRY. IT WAS NOT AN ARTIFICIAL ATTEMPT TO HAVE A FRIENDSHIP. AND JIM CAME TO ME ONE DAY, AND HE WAS REALLY FRUSTRATED. AND HE SAID, "EVERYBODY'S GIVING ME A HARD TIME. "EVERYBODY HAS A DIFFERENT IDEA OF HOW TO DO THIS AND THEN THEY DON'T SHOW UP TO MEETINGS," AND DA DA DA DA DA. AND I SAID TO--AND I THINK HE WAS MEETING WITH DEBBIE AND PETER AND PATRICK GRAYBILL AND THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN ONE OTHER PERSON, AND I SAID, "JIM, YOU WANT THIS SO BADLY, BUT IT ISN'T YOURS. "IT'S THE DEAF PEOPLE'S. "SO, YOU HAVE TO CALL THEIR BLUFF. "YOU HAVE TO SAY, 'I WANT TO DO THIS, "'BUT I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE. SO, IF YOU'RE NOT SUPPORTING ME--'" 'CAUSE THEY WERE ALL, LIKE, "WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?" YOU KNOW? AND WHEN HE FINALLY SAID, "WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO? "THIS IS YOURS. IF YOU'RE NOT DOING IT, "IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED, EVEN THOUGH THIS HAS BEEN "THE WHOLE REASON WHY I LEARNED SIGN LANGUAGE, IT ISN'T HAPPENING." THEN IT STARTED TO GO. AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS, YOU KNOW, A BIG MOMENT BECAUSE HE IS A VERY VISIONARY PERSON AND A HARD-WORKING PERSON. AND HE WAS GONNA MAKE IT HAPPEN, BUT HE NEEDED TO MAKE SURE HE HAD BUY-IN. WOMAN: ARE YOU SPEAKING ABOUT THE TIMES OF, LIKE, JAZZBERRY'S AND GETTING THE PAINTED ROPE THING GOING WITH ..., OR ARE YOU ALREADY-- WENDY: I'M TALKING ABOUT THE CONFERENCE. - THE CONFERENCE. - THE CONFERENCE ITSELF, YES. WENDY: HE DECIDED TO DO THE CONFERENCE-- - DECIDED TO PUT THAT ON. - YEAH. BECAUSE THAT WAS PRETTY MAJOR EFFORT. IT TOOK COLLABORATION AMONG A LOT OF PEOPLE. WOMAN: HOW ABOUT BEFORE THAT WHEN HE AND TODD DID TOGETHER THE PAINTED ROPE SERIES OR FRAYED ROPE SERIES? - I CAN'T REMEMBER. - PAINTED ROPE. WOMAN: PAINTED ROPE SERIES, WHERE HE WAS BRINGING INTERPRETERS IN TO SHOW THE DEAF PEOPLE THE HEARING POETRY AND THEN STARTED INCORPORATING-- AND WERE YOU--I KNOW THAT YOU-- WENDY: YEAH, I WAS ONE OF THE READERS. I WAS ONE OF THE HEARING READERS, AND, UM... I THINK THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE TIME DONNA INTERPRETED FOR ME. AND I REALLY--THERE ARE FEW PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERPRETERS WHO REALLY WERE WONDERFUL POETRY INTERPRETERS BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTOOD WHAT THEY WERE INTERPRETING. AND THEY GOT, I THINK, TO BE VERY, VERY GOOD INTERPRETERS BY BEING ABLE TO BE SO FLEXIBLE WITH THE WAY LANGUAGE WORKS IN POETRY. AND I WAS REALLY--I FELT REALLY PRIVILEGED TO SEE THEIR WORK. SO, WHEN THERE WOULD BE BIG, REALLY IMPORTANT POETS LIKE ALLEN GINSBERG IN TOWN, TO SEE THEM INTERPRETED BY REALLY GOOD INTERPRETERS REALLY EXPANDED MY IDEA OF HOW SIGN LANGUAGE COULD HELP-- COULD WORK, YOU KNOW. AND THE SAME THING THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT THAT POINT IN WATCHING SIGN LANGUAGE TO NECESSARILY GET IT ALL WITHOUT A VOICE INTERPRETER. NOWADAYS, I REALLY WISH THERE WERE NO VOICE INTERPRETERS, BUT I UNDERSTAND THAT NOT EVERYBODY--YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? BUT AT THAT POINT, I REALLY NEEDED THE VOICE INTERPRETERS. AND...THE OTHER THING THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO LEARN SIGN LANGUAGE-- AND I'VE SINCE LEARNED THAT THIS IS HOW I LEARNED TO SP-- I LOOK BACK. THIS IS HOW I LEARNED SPANISH. IF I LEARNED FRENCH BETTER, THIS IS HOW I'LL LEARN FRENCH. I HAD TO LOOK AT THE POETRY, BECAUSE, FOR ME, I MAY BE A LITTLE A.D.D. I GET BORED EASILY. SO, I'M WATCHING PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE GONNA HAVE FOR LUNCH ON A VIDEOTAPE JUST DOESN'T DO IT FOR ME. IT'S NOT--IT'S NOT A MEATY ENOUGH LANGUAGE TO WATCH AGAIN AND AGAIN AND TRY AND GET THE LANGUAGE OUT OF. BUT WATCHING--I WOULD WATCH CLAYTON VALLI'S STUFF, I WOULD WATCH PATRICK'S STUFF, I WOULD WATCH TEDDY'S STUFF OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL I UNDERSTOOD EVERY LITTLE NUANCE. AND, YOU KNOW, THE 50th TIME THROUGH, I'D SEE SOMETHING I HADN'T SEEN. I HAD TO WATCH IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. AND I COULD DO THAT BECAUSE OF VIDEOTAPE. AND IT REALLY ENRICHED MY AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE ENORMOUSLY BECAUSE I MEMORIZED THOSE POEMS. IT GAVE ME--IT GAVE ME... A REPERTOIRE OF MOVES IN THE LANGUAGE THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD OTHERWISE. WOMAN: MM-HMM. SO, YOU THOUGHT, LIKE, YOU EVEN GOT BETTER AT-- IT'S A REALLY INTERESTING WAY OF LOOKING AT IT. YOU LEARNED THE LANGUAGE FOCUSING AT THE POETRY AND THE POETIC CONSTRUCTS OF HOW THE LANGUAGE WORKS. WENDY: YEAH, BECAUSE IT BREAKS IT DOWN, AND IT'S SO--IT'S SO DISTILLED. WOMAN: RIGHT, RIGHT. IT GIVES YOU MORE OF AN IDEA OF THE EVERYDAY AND MUNDANE TO LOOK AT THE METAPHORIC AND ALL THAT. THAT'S COOL. WENDY: WELL, AND JUST EVEN THE GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE IS THERE. - YOU KNOW? - MM-HMM. MM-HMM. I MEAN, I'M NOT SAYING I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO A LOT OF OTHER THINGS TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE, BUT THAT'S WHERE THE REAL JOY IN LEARNING IT OTHER THAN IN CONVERSATION WITH REAL PEOPLE WAS. WOMAN: DID YOU--WERE YOU AWARE OF, UM... THE TENSION AT THE TIME ABOUT WHETHER WHAT THESE PEOPLE-- WHAT DEBBIE AND WHAT PETER AND WHAT-- WENDY: OH, GOD, YES. WOMAN: WHETHER IT WAS REALLY CALLED POETRY OR NOT? WENDY: YEAH. WOMAN: MAYBE YOU COULD TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT. WENDY: WELL... THE POETS NEVER HAD ANY REAL QUESTION ABOUT IT, I THINK, IN CERTAIN WAYS. I MEAN... THE DEAF PEOPLE DIDN'T--THERE WAS THIS KIND OF THING--WELL-- THERE WAS A KIND OF A RESISTANCE TO POETRY BECAUSE POETRY HAD ALWAYS BEEN THE ENEMY IN ENGLISH CLASS. IT'S THE STUFF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND BECAUSE IT'S BASED ON ENGLISH. AND THEN, UM... AND THE DESIRE TO CALL WHAT WE DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. THEN THERE WERE THE PEOPLE, THE SAME PEO-- I THINK THERE WAS SOME RESISTANCE FROM THE PEOPLE WHO WERE LIKE, "IS ASL A LANGUAGE? IS THIS POETRY? IS THIS REALLY POETRY?" IT WAS NOT MAJOR OUT THERE, BUT IT WAS KIND OF LIKE, "THIS CAN'T BE--THIS CAN'T BE THE EQUIVALENT "OF ENGLISH POETRY. "I MEAN, IT DOESN'T HAVE, YOU KNOW, MILLENNIA OF HERITAGE IN IT." WELL, BULLSHIT, BUT YOU KNOW... I MEAN BECAUSE MOST OF THE PEOPLE DOING IT WERE BILINGUAL, AND IT HAD A MILLENNIA OF HERITAGE FROM THAT. AND IT HAD A HISTORY WITHIN THE DEAF COMMUNITY, TOO. JUST BECAUSE WE DIDN'T HAVE RECORDS OF MOST OF THAT, DOESN'T MEAN IT DIDN'T EXIST. SO, I NEVER HAD A LOT OF PATIENCE FOR THAT ARGUMENT. WHAT WAS INTERESTING TO ME WAS THE PURIST VIEW VERSUS WHAT PETER AND KENNY AND DEBBIE ARE DOING IS NOT POETRY, BUT WHAT CLAYTON VALLI IS DOING IS POETRY. AND WHEN I DID MY THING ABOUT DUETS, I GOT IN TROUBLE BECAUSE MY EXAMPLE WAS PETER AND DEBBIE. AND THEY SAID, "YEAH, WELL, THAT'S VERY INTERESTING, BUT THAT'S NOT POETRY." AND I SAID TWO THINGS--FIRST OF ALL, "I THINK IT IS POETRY. "I THINK IT'S PERFORMANCE POETRY. "IT'S JUST A DIFFERENT KIND OF POETRY THAN THE SONNET. "YOU KNOW, YOURS MAY BE A SONNET, AND THIS IS A PERFORMANCE POEM." OK, SECONDLY, "I MAY HAVE THE WRONG EXAMPLE TO PROVE IT TO YOU "BUT I THINK MY DUET THEORY IS STILL RIGHT... WITH ANY EXAMPLE." YOU KNOW. AND THE THEORY WAS BASICALLY THAT THE SAME RULES THAT APPLY, THE LINGUISTS HAD COME UP WITH THIS STUFF ABOUT HOW YOU USE YOUR HANDS IN SIGN LANGUAGE. YOU HAVE TO USE THEM DOING THE SAME THINGS SIMULTANEOUSLY, DOING OPPOSITE THINGS, OR ONE HAS TO STAY STILL WHILE THE OTHER MOVES. I THINK THOSE WERE THE THREE. AND I WAS TRYING TO SHOW THAT WHEN YOU DO A DUET, FOR THE SAME VISUAL REASONS THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN'T TAKE IT IN ANY OTHER WAY, YOU EITHER HAVE TO PASS THE MOVEMENT ON-- YOU STOP, AND I START-- OR YOU HAVE TO BE DOING THE SAME PARALLEL THING THAT I'M DOING OR THE OPPOSITE THING THAT I'M DOING. OR THEN IT TURNS INTO A DIALOGUE INTERACTION, BUT THAT'S STOP-START, STOP-START, TOO. SO, THAT WAS KIND OF MY THEORY, BUT IT WAS BEING-- PEOPLE WERE, LIKE, BEING SKEPTICAL ABOUT IT BECAUSE... IT WAS PETER AND DEBBIE DOING SOMETHING THAT LOOKED LIKE ACTING. WOMAN: AND IS THIS REASON COMING FROM THE DEAF COMMUNITY OR THE HEARING COMMUNITY? WENDY: DO YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S COMING FROM THE LEGITIMACY ISSUE. EVERYTHING WE--EVERYTHING THAT IS DONE AROUND ASL IN THAT TIME WAS A BID FOR LEGITIMACY. - FOR THE LANGUAGE? - FOR THE LANGUAGE, EXACTLY. SO, IF IT WAS GONNA BE A LEGITIMATE LANGUAGE, IT HAD TO HAVE A LITERATURE. AND THEN, OF COURSE, THE ARGUMENT IS "WHAT'S THE CANON? WHAT'S LEGITIMATE LITERATURE?" AND IF IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ROBERT FROST, ARE WE GONNA GET LEGITIMACY FOR IT? NOW, INTERESTINGLY, I DON'T THINK CLAYTON WAS THE HEAVY HITTER ON THAT ONE. I MEAN, CLAYTON, I THINK, WAS PRETTY ACCEPTING, BUT HE WAS QUESTIONING, YOU KNOW. AND I THINK CLAYTON VALLI-- I THINK THE WORLD OF CLAYTON VALLI. I THINK HE'S... AN AMAZING SPIRIT AND, YOU KNOW, SO, I DON'T-- BUT HE WAS QUESTIONING IT, AND IT WAS MAINLY... WAS IT THE SEPALAS OR-- I CAN'T REMEMBER. THERE WERE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE WHO WERE BORN DEAF OF DEAF FAMILIES, WHO WERE REALLY, LIKE, TRYING TO SAY, "THIS IS MY TRADEMARK. THIS IS WHAT IT IS BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT I DO." - MM-HMM. - AND I FELT-- AND SO, I THINK IT WAS QUESTIONS ABOUT, "WELL, PETER HADN'T GROWN UP WITH SIGN LANGUAGE." - THAT WAS AN ISSUE. - AND NEITHER HAD DEBBIE. SO, HOW COULD WHAT THEY'D BE DOING-- THE QUESTION WASN'T-- AND I AS A HEARING PERSON WHO KNEW A MODICUM OF SIGN LANGUAGE-- MY QUESTION-- I THINK THEIR QUESTION WASN'T SO MUCH "WAS IT POETRY?" BUT "WAS IT ASL?" 'CAUSE TO ME, IT WAS POETRY. THERE'S A BOOK CALLED "STRIKE A BLOW AND DIE," THE STORY OF THE JOHN CHILEMBWE UPRISING, AND I THINK IT'S IN MALAWI OR SOMETHING. IT'S IN PIDGIN ENGLISH. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT HE'S SAYING, BUT IT'S BEAUTIFUL. IT'S ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, AND I CHALLENGE ANYBODY TO SAY JUST BECAUSE IT'S NOT A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF NATIVE SPEAKING OF ENGLISH, THAT IT ISN'T A GREAT WORK OF LITERATURE. SO, THAT'S--THAT'S WHERE I'M COMING FROM. IT'S--IT'S LIKE... EMILY DICKINSON SAYS. "HOW DO I KNOW IT'S POETRY? IF THE TOP OF MY HEAD COMES OFF, IT'S POETRY." AND, YOU KNOW, THE REST I LEAVE TO THE LINGUISTICS PEOPLE. [WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] WENDY: YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. WOMAN: LOT OF HOT DEBATE ABOUT IT. DID YOU--WELL, SO, GO A LITTLE BIT MORE INTO YOUR DUETS A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THAT. WENDY: WELL, IT BASICALLY-- IT WAS--I THINK IT WAS THAT I WAS FASCINATED THAT YOU COULD DO A DUET. I WAS SEEING THIS HAPPENING IN PERFORMANCE POETRY IN ENGLISH, WHERE PEOPLE WOULD BE TALKING OVER EACH OTHER. I'D BE TALKING AND TODD BEERS WOULD BE TALKING AT THE SAME TIME. AND SOMETIMES THAT WORKED, BUT MOSTLY IT DIDN'T. AND SO, I WAS INTERESTED IN WHAT DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO DO TO HAVE A GOOD DUET. AND...I THINK--I THINK I WOULD ARGUE THAT THE STUFF THAT WAS CROSSOVER, WHERE PEOPLE WERE TALKING OVER EACH OTHER, WHERE I'M READING ONE POEM AND HE'S READING ANOTHER POEM SIMULTANEOUSLY. IT HAS MUSICAL INTEREST, BUT... IT'S NOT ACCESSIBLE POETRY. IT'S LANGUAGE POETRY-- LANGUAGE POETRY, WHERE WE ARE PLAYING WITH HOW LANGUAGE WORKS. I'M NOT SAYING THAT'S NOT POETRY, BUT I THINK THAT IN MOST DUETS, THERE ARE SOME RULES ABOUT HOW YOU GET SOMETHING ACROSS SO THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN ACTUALLY TAKE IT IN OR TAKE IT IN. WOMAN: MM-HMM. AND SO, WHAT YOU SAW-- I'M ASSUMING THAT THE ONE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS PSYCHOTIC MEMORY. WENDY: I THINK SO, YEAH. WOMAN: HAMBURGER--FLAT. A HAMBURGER'S FLAT. - YEAH. YES, YES, YES. THAT ONE. - PEOPLE DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD. WOMAN: DID YOU ALSO LOOK AT, UM... THERE WAS QUEBEC--THE POETS FROM QUEBEC WHO CAME DOWN, JOHANNA AND SERGE. WENDY: I DID SEE THEM. I DON'T REMEMBER-- WOMAN: THAT WASN'T PART OF YOUR WORK, WAS IT? 'CAUSE THEY DID DO A THING WHERE THEY DID A BEAUTIFUL NATURE SCENE THAT WAS LIKE A DUET, ALSO, THAT I-- WENDY: I THINK I LOOKED AT THAT, TOO, BUT I DIDN'T USE IT AS MY EXAMPLE. WOMAN: OK. IT WOULD BE ANOTHER ONE-- WENDY: I MEAN, I WAS DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM A VERY SMALL SET OF EXAMPLES, WHICH IS-- WOMAN: YEAH, THERE WASN'T MUCH GOING ON. WENDY: YEAH, IN DUETS, THERE WASN'T A LOT. WOMAN: RIGHT. I KNOW THAT NTD DID STUFF WHERE THERE WERE GROUP HOMES, WHERE THEY CREATED AND STUFF LIKE THAT, BUT IT WASN'T A SUSTAINED-- IT WASN'T A SUSTAINED THING THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THAT TOOK A THING-- WENDY: RIGHT. AND I DON'T-- I HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT SINCE. WOMAN: YEAH, I KNOW. WENDY: I MEAN, THE BREAKUP OF THE DEBBIE-PETER TEAM WAS A BIG BLOW, 'CAUSE THEY WERE DOING REALLY INTERESTING STUFF. WOMAN: PETER AND KENNY DO A PIECE CALLED "E = mc2"... WENDY: YES, I'VE SEEN THAT. WOMAN: THAT I DON'T KNOW IF IT WOULD FIT OR NOT BECAUSE THEY CREATE SO MANY THINGS THAT ARE-- THE IMAGE ONLY COMES BY BOTH OF THEM BEING PART OF IT, NOT BY PLAYING OFF OF EACH OTHER IN-- WENDY: RIGHT. WELL, AND THERE YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER FACTOR. WHAT YOU'VE GOT IS TABLEAU. WOMAN: OH, RIGHT. WENDY: THAT'S ANOTHER THING YOU CAN DO IN A DUET. YOU CAN STOP THE FRAME AND GIVE US A TABLEAU PICTURE. AND THEN SOME PART OF IT CAN MOVE... EVER SO SLIGHTLY, BUT IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'RE BOTH SAYING DIFFERENT THINGS. WOMAN: MM-HMM. DOES IT EXTEND-- SO, A TABLEAU WOULD ALSO EXTEND TO... WELL, THERE'S SERGE AND JOHANNA AND PETER AND KENNY DOING THE HOLOCAUST PIECE. AND THERE ARE SEVERAL PARTS OF THAT-- WENDY: I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY OF THIS STUFF IN SO LONG, IT'S HARD FOR ME TO REMEMBER. WOMAN: YEAH, THAT'S WHY I WANT TO GET YOU THE SAMPLE DVD THING. WENDY: AND I REMEMBER KENNY HAVING THIS TROUBLE, TOO. YOU KNOW, WE WOULD RUN IT UP THE FLAGPOLE AS AN ELECTIVE AND NOT ALWAYS GET A CLASS. - MM-HMM. - RIGHT. - OK? - YEP. WOMAN: UMM... WENDY: AND I REMEMBER ONE TIME I HAD DEBBIE DOING A CLASS, AND I WANTED TO GET A LOT OF PEOPLE IN TO SEE HER. SHE WAS GONNA TEACH HOW TO CREATE POEMS IN SIGN LANGUAGE AND TEACH ABOUT TRANSFORMATIONS AND ALL OF THIS OTHER STUFF, ALL THIS WONDERFUL STUFF. AND I FINALLY FIGURED OUT, 'CAUSE I HAD SOMEBODY ELSE-- I MIGHT HAVE HAD PETER DOING A WORKSHOP, AND VERY FEW PEOPLE SHOWED UP. I STARTED CHARGING FOR IT... YOU KNOW. AND THE FACT THAT YOU HAD TO PAY $5.00 TO BE IN IT MEANT THAT PEOPLE REALIZED IT MIGHT BE WORTH SOMETHING. HA HA! YOU KNOW? IT'S JUST--IT'S JUST FUNNY HOW THAT IS. WOMAN: HA HA! SO YOU HAD TAKERS WHEN THEY HAD TO PAY. WENDY: RIGHT. AND DO YOU REMEMBER THERE WAS DOWN IN THE BASEMENT, THERE WAS A LITTLE PUB-LIKE RESTAURANT? AND THERE WAS A--WAS IT A WEEKLY OR A MONTHLY... WOMAN: THIS WAS BEFORE I GOT-- THE CELLAR, YEAH. WENDY: SHOWCASE. YEAH, IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE I WASN'T THERE YET, SO I WOULD LOVE YOU TO TALK ABOUT THAT. - THAT WAS THE CELLAR. - THERE WAS, LIKE, AN OPEN MIC, WHERE--NO MICROPHONE-- BUT, YOU KNOW, WHERE PEOPLE WOULD PERFORM, AND THAT'S WHERE EDDIE SWAYZE REALLY FIRST STARTED PERFORMING AND DOING ANYTHING. AND THERE WERE A COUPLE OF OTHER PEOPLE. AND RITA STRAUBHAAR DID A COUPLE OF REALLY NICE PIECES. SUSAN DID SOME PIECES. JUST, UM, JOHN NATHANIEL, UM... WHOSE NAME IS ESCAPING ME. EVERYBODY--PEOPLE WHO HAD AN INKLING TOWARDS THAT KIND OF-- YOU KNOW, THEY WERE KIND OF INTERESTED, TRIED THINGS. AND THERE WERE MANY THINGS. I MEAN, YOU SEE THIS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE POETRY. YOU'LL GET PEOPLE WHO, IN THEIR EARLY 20s, WRITE 3 OR 4 REALLY NICE POEMS, BUT IT'S NOT THEIR LIFE, AND THEY NEVER WRITE ANYTHING AGAIN. BUT BECAUSE THERE WAS THIS VENUE, WHERE YOU COULD TRY IT AND SHOW IT OFF, PEOPLE WERE TRYING TO COMPOSE STUFF WHO HAD NEVER TRIED BEFORE, AND IT WAS REALLY LOTS OF FUN. AND PATRICK WOULD--I THINK THEY WOULD HAVE A FEATURE PERSON FROM TIME TO TIME OR MAYBE EVERY TIME. AND PATRICK WOULD GO DOWN AND DO STUFF, AND... ONE OF THE THINGS THAT KIND OF DISAPPOINTED ME OVER THE YEARS WAS THAT PEOPLE WOULD GET A REPERTOIRE, AND THEN THEY WOULD FREEZE IT. AND THIS HAPPENS, I THINK, A LOT WITH PERFORMANCE POETRY BECAUSE--AND IT'S NOT JUST IN THE DEAF WORLD-- BECAUSE YOU GET A CERTAIN AUDIENCE REACTION, AND YOU'RE GOING IN FRONT OF DIFFERENT AUDIENCES ALL THE TIME SO YOU DON'T REALLY NEED A NEW REPERTOIRE UNLESS YOU'RE WRITING THIS STUFF FOR YOURSELF. AND SO, UM, BRILLIANT POET LIKE PATRICK HAS A VERY SMALL...OEUVRE-- I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU SAY THAT, THAT FRENCH WORD THAT MEANS YOUR "BODY OF WORK." AND, UM... IT'S KIND OF INTEREST-- BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED WAS, PEOPLE DEVELOPED STUFF REALLY EARLY ON, A LOT OF STUFF. AND THEN THEY JUST KIND OF... HAD IT, AND THEY HAD THEIR EXPLANATION FOR IT. AND I THINK IT SUFFERED SOME FOR BEING STUDIED, FOR BEING AN ACADEMIC TOPIC SO EARLY ON, RATHER THAN JUST AN ORGANIC COMMUNITY ART. BECAUSE IT WAS AN ACADEMIC SUBJECT, BECAUSE IT WAS BEING LOOKED AT SO CLOSELY, PEOPLE WERE MAYBE NOT AS EXPERIMENTAL AS THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN, WITH, YOU KNOW, WITH SOME EXCEPTIONS. WOMAN: HMM...INTERESTING. I KNOW PETER AND KENNY WORK HARD TO KEEP DOING STUFF, AND DEBBIE CONSIDERS HERSELF-- ALTHOUGH, SHE'S TEACHING AND SHE'S DOING A LOT OF OTHER STUFF IN SWEDEN, SHE STILL CONSIDERS HERSELF PRIMARILY A POET NOW. SO, SHE'S STILL VERY ACTIVE. BUT PATRICK TOLD ME, "I'M TIRED. I'M NOT GONNA DO STUFF ANYMORE. WHO'S NEXT?" WENDY: YEAH. WOMAN: AND MARLA DOES JUST SPORADIC STUFF, LIKE I SAID, IN THE SERVICE OF HER-- WENDY: BUT I'M NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT IN THE LONG RUN. I'M TALKING ABOUT, PEOPLE PRODUCED-- AND MAYBE SOME OF THEM HAD ONE IN-- THEY'D WRITTEN ONE POEM, YOU KNOW? THEY'D WRITTEN ONE POEM, AND MAYBE IT HAD GOTTEN SOME PLAY ALONG THE WAY, AND THEY'D FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT. AND THEN WHEN THIS WHOLE THING OF DEAF POETRY CAME UP, THEY RELEASED THAT POEM. WOMAN: MM-HMM. WENDY: AND PEOPLE SAID "OOH! AHH!" YOU KNOW. "THAT'S WONDERFUL!" AND THEN THEY MAYBE MADE 5 MORE, ENOUGH FOR A SET. THEY MADE--THEY PUT TOGETHER A SET, AND THAT WAS THEIR SET. [WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] WENDY: AND THEN THAT BECAME ONE VIDEOTAPE, THEN THAT WAS KIND OF... WOMAN: THAT WAS IT. MM-HMM, MM-HMM. WENDY: AND OF COURSE, ALSO, "WHO'S NEXT?" WAS A BIG ISSUE. I MEAN, IF THERE HAD BEEN A REAL RUSH FOR A NEXT GENERATION RIGHT THEN AND THERE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT. BUT...NOT, NOT REALLY. WOMAN: YEAH, NOT REALLY. JEREMY CAREAU-- DO YOU KNOW HIM? WENDY: NO, I DON'T. WOMAN: DEAF YOUNG GUY, NICE, NICE GUY, VERY TALENTED--TRYING TO GET THINGS GOING AGAIN IN ROCHESTER, NOT HAVING A WHOLE LOT OF LUCK. JOE SAID, "SEND HIM OVER," AND HE WOULD... HE TRIED TO DO A SERIES... WENDY: WELL, AND THE OTHER THING IS, I THINK THAT THE VIDEOTAPES ALSO HAD AN INFLUENCE. THEY BECAME THE FROZEN "HERE IT IS, HERE'S THE VIDEOTAPE. YOU DON'T NEED A LIVE POET. YOU'VE GOT--" OH, BUT NO, NO. THE OTHER WAY AROUND. THE OTHER WAY AROUND. SOME PEOPLE HAD THE VIDEOTAPES AND THEN THE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF, THEY WERE SO EXPENSIVE AT FIRST. SO, THE KIDS WEREN'T GROWING UP WITH IT. SO, I DON'T KNOW. WOMAN: NO, THAT'S A VERY IMPORTANT POINT IS THAT AND WHAT I'M HOPING SOME OF THIS WILL DO IS ALSO, LIKE, GIVE TO CURRICULUM, LIKE THE AGE KIDS STUDY ENGLISH POETRY IN SCHOOL AND RECITE IT AND LEARN IT AND HATE IT, BUT YOU DON'T GIVE THEM ANYTHING IN THEIR LANGUAGE TO GENERATE... SO WHY WOULD THEY THINK THAT THEY CAN CREATE POETRY IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE WHEN THEY HAVE NO ROLE MODELS IN THEIR-- WENDY: WELL, AND FOR TRANSLATING ENGLISH POETRY AND NOT ONLY, YOU KNOW, NOT TO GIVE--NOT JUST TO GIVE AN ASL EQUIVALENT, BUT TO SAY, "OK, SOMETHING IS HAPPENING IN THIS POEM "THAT THE HEARING PERSON IS NOTICING, AND THAT'S ALL THESE THIN SOUNDS--THESE 'EEEs' AND 'IZZ.'" THAT'S LIKE IF YOU ONLY USED, YOU KNOW, LINES RATHER THAN WHOLE HANDS. WHOLE HANDS ARE MORE LIKE "OHH"s AND "AHH"s. WHEN YOU'RE TEACHING ENGLISH AND YOU'RE TEACHING POETRY, YOU CAN SAY, "OK, THIS POEM HAS A RELAXED FEEL, LIKE AS IF THE HANDS WERE ALWAYS OPEN." IT'S REALLY--IT'S... YOU KNOW, POETRY'S HARD TO EXPLAIN AS IT IS, BUT TO HAVE SOME KIND OF AN EQUIVALENT AND TO BE ABLE TO SAY, "IT'S LIKE THIS." WOMAN: HOW WOULD YOU, WHEN YOU WERE TEACHING IT-- THAT WAS GREAT, WHAT YOU WERE JUST SHOWING ME. ARE THERE ANY OTHER THINGS LIKE THAT THAT YOU WOULD SHOW? WHEN YOU HAD TO DO DEMONSTRATIONS OF RHYTHM OR RHYME OR ANY OF THOSE KINDS OF GRAMMATICAL FEATURES THAT CAN APPLY TO ASL IN ITS OWN WAY, WHAT WERE THE SORT OF THINGS THAT YOU WOULD DO, IF YOU REMEMBER? WENDY: THERE IS ONE THING I REMEMBER, AND IT ISN'T REALLY RELATED EXACTLY TO ASL. BUT THERE'S A POEM BY DICKINSON THAT, UM... HAS THE GREAT LINE-- IT'S ABOUT A SNAKE. AND YOU DON'T KNOW. "A NARROW FELLOW IN THE GRASS OCCASIONALLY RIDES. YOU MAY HAVE SEEN HIM. IF YOU DID HIS NOTICE SUDDEN IS." AND THEN YOU GO DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. "I NEVER SEE THIS FELLOW ATTENDED OR ALONE WITHOUT... A SHORTER BREATHING," OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, "AND ZERO AT THE BONE." "AND ZERO AT THE BONE," JUST SAYING IT, MAKES YOU GO..."UGHHH!" AND I HAD TO SAY, "WELL, YOU KNOW, COLDNESS WOULDN'T DO IT. IT'S THE SOUND THAT DOES IT." AND YOU CAN SEE IT IN THE LIP READ. IT'S... SO, YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME VISUAL EQUIVALENT IF YOU'RE GONNA GET THIS ACROSS. IN LIP READING, YOU CAN SEE THAT, THAT TENSION OF THAT "EEE" AND THAT...YOU KNOW. YOU CAN SEE IT. IT'S GOT TO DO WITH YOUR VISCERAL REACTION TO WHAT YOU PHYSICALLY DO WHEN YOU SAY "ZERO." WOMAN: HMM... WENDY: SO, JUST BEING AWARE OF AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE POETRY AND HOW THE KIDS COULD GET A VISUAL EQUIVALENT AND, OF COURSE, I'M SURE YOU'RE GONNA TALK ABOUT THIS. ASL DOES SOMETHING THAT ANY HEARING PERSON WHO KNOWS IT IS REALLY JEALOUS OF, AND THAT'S THOSE TRANSFORMATIONS. I MEAN, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE SOMETHING ABOUT THAT, RIGHT? WOMAN: YES, I WANNA HEAR IT FROM YOU. WENDY: OK, WELL... IN ENGLISH, YOU CAN HAVE A PUN, AND YOU CAN HAVE A METAPHOR. AND A METAPHOR IS WHEN YOU SAY SOMETHING IS SOMETHING, YOU KNOW, BUT YOU HAVE TO KIND OF SAY BOTH THINGS. OR MAYBE YOU DON'T. YOU SAY... "WATER YOUR HAIR WITH OUR HAIR TONIC." YOU KNOW, YOU'RE SAYING HAIR IS GRASS, BUT-- AND IT'S KIND OF HIDDEN. BUT THE BEST--THE BEST EXAMPLE OF TRANSFORMATION, I THINK, IS IN DEBBIE'S POEM, WHERE "THROWING PAINT ON THE SKY... "BECOMES FIREWORKS... BECOMES ASL." AND SO IT'S--AT ONE POINT, IT'S A PUN, WHERE THIS MEANS "FIREWORKS" AND "ASL" AT THE SAME TIME. IT'S A PUN, BUT THEY'RE EACH TRANSFORMING INTO EACH OTHER. AND THE IMPLICATION OF THE PUN IS THAT ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE THE SAME. ASL IS FIREWORKS, ASL IS COLOR ON THE SKY. ASL IS EXPRESSION. AND TO HAVE ALL THOSE THINGS HAPPENING AT ONCE, WELL, I JUST DROOL TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. YOU KNOW, THAT'S--THAT-- EVERY LANGUAGE HAS ITS OWN POETIC VIRTUES THAT ANOTHER LANGUAGE DOESN'T HAVE... WHICH IS WHY IT'S KIND OF SAD THAT SO MANY LANGUAGES ARE DYING OFF. [WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] I DON'T--I'M NOT GONNA HAVE A CHANCE TO ASK MANY PEOPLE THIS SO I'M REALLY GLAD THAT I GET YOU BECAUSE YOU NOT ONLY KNOW SIGN VERY WELL, BUT YOU WERE A HEARING POET WHO UTILIZED THE SERVICE OF INTERPRETERS TO ENTRUST US WITH GETTING YOUR POETRY OUT TO-- WENDY: OH, AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. WOMAN: AND IT WAS A KICKASS EXPERIENCE. I WONDER IF YOU COULD BE ONE OF MY TALKING HEADS ABOUT THE WHOLE PROCESS OF WORKING WITH AN INTERPRETER TO GET YOUR POETRY-- WENDY: OH, WE WERE SO YOUNG AND SO--I MEAN, I DON'T THINK WE SLEPT MUCH BACK THEN. AND WE WOULD GET TOGETHER, AND THE INTERPRETER WOULD SPEND AN HOUR WITH THE POET, JUST GOING OVER, "NOW, WHAT DOES THIS LINE MEAN? WHAT DOES THIS LINE MEAN? HOW DO YOU WANT IT INTERPRETED?" AND IF IT HAD MORE THAN ONE MEANING, "DO WE HAVE TO DO BOTH MEANINGS?" AND DA DA DA DA DA. AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND DONNA AND SUSAN WOULD ASK SUCH... I MEAN, SUCH WONDERFUL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE POEMS AND MAKE YOU THINK MORE ABOUT YOUR OWN MEANINGS IN A WAY THAT MAYBE YOU HADN'T. AND YOU HAD TO EXPLAIN THE POEM, AND YOU'RE KIND OF LIKE, "UM, I THINK..." HA HA HA! BUT IT WAS ONE--AND--AND-- AND IT WAS A POET'S DREAM TO HAVE ANYBODY PAY THAT CLOSE ATTENTION TO THEIR POEM IN FRONT OF THEM. I MEAN, FAMOUS POETS. THEY WRITE THEIR POEMS, THEY SEND THEM OUT, AND THEY HOPE PEOPLE READ THEM. AND IF THEY'RE REALLY LUCKY, THEY'RE IN AN ANTHOLOGY OR THEY HAVE A BOOK OF THEIR OWN THAT SOMEBODY READS IN A CLASS WHERE THEY ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO EVERY WORD AND REALLY GET INTO IT. AND TO HAVE SOMEBODY VERY INTELLIGENT, BILINGUAL, IN FRONT OF YOU, SAYING, "NOW, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?" AND GETTING INTO IT AND BEING ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT IT AND "HOW AM I GOING TO INTERPRET THAT AND TRANSLATE THAT?" IT WAS JUST SO MUCH FUN. I MEAN, IT WAS A GREAT EGO STROKE, TOO, REALLY. WOMAN: HA HA HA! WENDY: AND IT WAS FUN TO HAVE THE INTERPRETER THERE. FOR ONE THING, IT ALLOWED YOU A DEAF AUDIENCE. IT ALLOWED ME TO GIVE ACCESS TO WHAT I DO IN POETRY TO MY DEAF FRIENDS, AND, AT THE SAME TIME, I MEAN, YOU GUYS WERE JUST... I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW IF ANYBODY WAS LISTENING TO US AT ALL. YOU KNOW, YOU WERE SO BEAUTIFUL UP THERE, DOING YOUR THING, AND THEY WERE JUST LIKE... "THAT'S--THAT'S AMAZING!" YOU KNOW, IT MADE IT SO MUCH MORE. IT GAVE MORE DIMENSION TO THE WHOLE THING. WOMAN: AND YOU CHOSE NOT TO SIGN THE STUFF YOURSELF. WENDY: OH, GOD, YOU CAN'T SIGN THE STUFF YOURSELF. NO. I--UM--ACTUALLY... I NEVER WAS GOOD ENOUGH. I MEAN, THAT'S NOT ENTIRELY TRUE. IF I WROTE A POEM IN SIGN LANGUAGE, WHICH I DID WRITE A FEW, I DID COMPOSE A FEW. I WOULD PERFORM IT IN SIGN LANGUAGE. BUT... UM... I WAS NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ENOUGH TO DEVELOP MY OWN TRANSLATION, NOR AM I A BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH SIGNER, NOR AM I SMOOTH ENOUGH TO REALLY FEEL CONFIDENT THAT I WOULD BE DOING THE POEM JUSTICE. THE OTHER THING I WANTED TO SAY IS, UM... STACY LAWRENCE AND I HAVE BEEN TEACHING IN THE SUMMER. WE TEACH--FOR THE LAST 2 YEARS AT CLASS AND AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE FOR KIDS THROUGH STORIES AND POETRY. AND I JUST REALLY FEEL LIKE THIS IS THE WAY TO LEARN. NOW, I KNOW THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF BRAINS. THERE ARE ANALYTICAL BRAINS WHO HAVE TO LEARN ALL THE STRUCTURE, ET CETERA, ET CETERA, BUT IF THEY'RE LIKE ME, HAVING SOMETHING MEATY LIKE POETRY TO MEMORIZE, TO EXPRESS, STARTS TO TEACH YOU THE GRAMMAR, STARTS TO TEACH YOU ALL OF THAT. AND, OF COURSE, YOU NEED A HUMAN BEING THAT YOU NEED TO CONVERSE WITH OR YOU'LL NEVER LEARN THE LANGUAGE. WOMAN: YEAH. HE WAS A VERY COOL GUY. AND THAT STUFF PROBABLY CAME UP MORE IN THE LIT CONCERTS IN '91, '98, BECAUSE ALL KINDS OF FIREWORKS WENT OFF IN '91 FOR THE CONTESTS. AND THAT WAS JUST A WHOLE-- FORTUNATELY, I'M NOT GETTING INTO ANY OF THAT AT ALL. I'M STICKING WITH POETRY, NOT LIT, AND I'M STICKING WITH THIS PARTICULAR TIME PERIOD AND EVERYTHING LEADING UP TO IT. WENDY: MM-HMM. WOMAN: AND THEN IF ANYBODY WANTS TO DO ALL THAT OTHER SHIT, THEN BE MY GUEST! BUT MY MAIN THING--I MEAN, JUST TO LET YOU KNOW, I'VE ALREADY INTERVIEWED BERNARD BRAGG, PANARA, PATRICK GRAYBILL. I GOT PENNY. I'M GONNA GET PETER. I'M GONNA GET PETER AND KENNY. - UH... - GOOD. WOMAN: AND VALLI RESPONDED. FORTUNATELY, I HAVE SOME OLD FOOTAGE WE CAN USE OF HIM AND A DR. MILES INTERVIEW, ALSO. NOW, ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH HER STUFF AT ALL? WENDY: I REMEMBER SEEING IT. - BUT YOU'RE NOT REALLY-- - WHY? WHAT WERE YOU GONNA-- WOMAN: OH, I'M JUST ACTUALLY GETTING THE LITANY OF WHO-- IT'S ALL THE STUFF LEADING UP TO THE STUFF THAT HAPPENED HERE IN ROCHESTER AND THE FACT THAT ELLA AND CLAYTON WERE SORT OF INDEPENDENT-- - OUTSIDERS. - SPONTANEOUSLY-- - COMBUSTED. YOU KNOW, GENERATED, YOU KNOW. WENDY: AND SOMEBODY COULD HAVE BEEN SENT-- IN 1950, SOMEBODY COULD HAVE BEEN SPONTANEOUSLY-- WOMAN: SOMEBODY WOULD COME HERE, YEAH. WENDY: BUT THEY WEREN'T BROUGHT TOGETHER. WOMAN: NO, THEY DIDN'T KNOW. RIGHT. WENDY: YEAH, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO WAY TO KNOW, AND THERE WAS NO GATHERING, AND... WOMAN: AND JIM WAS THE CATALYST. WENDY: AND JIM WAS THE CATALYST. AND JIM IS JUST AN EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN BEING THAT WAY. HE'S JUST ALWAYS DOING THE NEXT THING THAT... TAKES POETRY TO ANOTHER LEVEL. WOMAN: RIGHT. ELLA AND CLAYTON ACTUALLY ENDED UP MEETING-- HEARING ABOUT EACH OTHER AND ARRANGED A MEETING SO THEY COULD MEET 'CAUSE THEY HEARD, "I HEARD YOU'RE DOING POET ...? "I'M DOING IT, TOO." THEY FOUND EACH OTHER, AND IT WAS VERY SERENDIPITOUS. WENDY: CLAYTON--CLAYTON-- YOU KNOW, I'M NOT SURE I'VE SEEN EVERYTHING THAT WAS EVER RECORDED OF CLAYTON. I NEED TO GO AND CHECK IT OUT. WOMAN: OH, YEAH. IT WILL LEND FUEL TO YOUR FIRE ABOUT THE "FROZEN" ASPECT, BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED WITH HIM-- [INDISTINCT] ...EITHER-- IS THAT HIS STUFF WAS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL AND HIS HANDS AND THE WAY HE DOES IT, BUT HE PERFORMED IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER SO MANY TIMES, IT BECAME FROZEN IN HIS DELIVERY. HE WOULD-- WENDY: BUT HE BELIEVED IN THAT, THOUGH. WOMAN: HE WOULD DO IT SO THAT THERE WAS HARDLY ANY PAUSES. WENDY: WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE THERE'S THIS DEBATE IN THE STORYTELLING COMMUNITY ABOUT WHETHER YOU DO A POEM-- WHETHER YOU DO-- THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY DOING A STORY WITH EXACTLY THE SAME INTONATIONS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AND THEN THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SAY, "THAT'S NOT STORYTELLING." STORYTELLING, YOU RESPOND WITH YOUR AUDIENCE," ET CETERA, ET CETERA, "AND CHANGE IT ACCORDING TO THE OCCASION." AND CERTAINLY--AND WHAT--IN FREEZING THE WAY YOU DELIVER IT, YOU ARE MAKING IT LIKE PAPER. WOMAN: WELL, BUT YOU-- WENDY: AND--AND LOIS... LOIS BRAGG, WAS IT? LOIS, YEAH. SHE ARGUED THAT THE AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE COMMUNITY'S STORYTELLING AND POETRY WAS LIKE IN THE OLD DAYS IN ENGLAND. ANGLO-SAXON LANGUAGE--THERE WAS NO WAY TO WRITE IT DOWN. AND THERE WERE THESE TRAVELING TROUBADOURS WHO WOULD GATHER A CIRCLE OF PEOPLE AROUND, AND THEN THINGS THAT PEOPLE ASKED FOR AND THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID INFLUENCED THE PERFORMANCE. AND--BUT THEN THERE WAS THE LATIN LITERATURE THAT WAS HIGH-CULTURE AND WAS WRITTEN DOWN ON PAPER. AND IT WAS IN A BOOK, AND THEREFORE IT WAS VALORIZED AS BETTER. AND I THINK SOME PEOPLE, LIKE CLAYTON, FELT THAT BY FREEZING IT, THEY HAD CREATED SOMETHING THE EQUIVALENT OF PAGE POETRY. AND I--AND I DON'T HAVE A LOT AGAINST THAT, BUT I LIKE ORAL CULTURE, I LIKE INTERACTIVE CULTURE OR, IN THAT SENSE, FACE-TO-FACE CULTURE AND THE ADAPTIVITY OF THAT, BUT IT'S NICE TO BE ABLE TO FREEZE IT ON VIDEOTAPE, BECAUSE IF IT DOES CHANGE, THEN YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THE NEXT ITERATION AND HOW IT'S CHANGED BECAUSE 9/11 HAPPENED. FOR INSTANCE, YOU TAKE PATRICK GRAYBILL'S THING WITH THE SPACE SHUTTLE. I CAN IMAGINE HIM CREATING A NEW POEM WHERE HE PUTS THOSE TWO TOGETHER--9/11-- BUT IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN BECAUSE THE IDEA IS, YOU DO IT THE SAME WAY OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AND NOT TO GET TOO DEEP ABOUT IT, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY LIKE ABOUT SENECA RELIGION IS THAT IT'S NOT FROZEN. AT THE MIDWINTER CEREMONY, PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO BRING UP THEIR DREAMS AND ABOUT HOW THE RITUAL SHOULD CHANGE. AND THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT BEING THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK AS JEWS AND CHRISTIANS THAT MEANS THAT WE'RE NOT VERY ADAPTIVE. WHEN THINGS ARE FROZEN ON PAPER, IT'S NOT THAT FLEXIBLE. BUT, YOU KNOW, THAT'S GOING TO A WHOLE 'NOTHER... WOMAN: THAT'S AWESOME. THAT WAS AWESOME! THAT WAS--I WANNA KISS YOU. THAT WAS GREAT! THERE'S SO MANY PARTS IN THAT THAT ARE REALLY PERFECT. - I MEAN-- - WELL, YOU KNOW, WENDY: AND YOU MIGHT-- YOU MIGHT SEE-- LOIS BRAGG CAME AND DID HER THING ABOUT HOW ASL WAS THE SAME AS THE TROUBADOUR. IT WAS THE ILLEGIT-- ILLEGITIMATE, THE ILLEGITIMATE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE, BUT THAT'S SO RICH. WOMAN: I INTERRUPTED YOU WHEN YOU SAID THAT, AND I WANT YOU TO SAY THAT AGAIN WITHOUT ME INTERRUPTING, IF YOU WOULDN'T MIND SAYING THAT AGAIN. WENDY: OK. OK. WELL, LOIS BRAGG DID A PRESENTATION WHERE SHE TALKED ABOUT THIS, AND SHE TALKED ABOUT HOW ASL WAS THE ILLEGITIMATE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE, AND, THEREFORE, IT WAS NOT GIVEN THE SAME VALUE AS LATIN OR FRENCH, BUT, YOU KNOW, THAT ORAL CULTURE, THAT'S SO RICH. THAT'S SO--THAT'S WHERE, YOU KNOW, STUFF BUBBLES UP FROM, AND IT'S SO RESPONSIVE TO THE MOMENT, YOU KNOW. SO, ANYWAY... WOMAN: UM... I GUESS THE ONLY THING I COULD ASK YOU-- WAIT--JUST WAIT TILL I CAN SAY-- IS DID YOU FEEL THAT YOUR OWN POETRY OR YOUR OWN CREATIVE GROWTH WAS FURTHERED BY YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS WHOLE THING, IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH KENNY? WENDY: I JUST--YOU KNOW, I JUST HAD THE FUNNIEST FEELING, AND THAT WAS OF THE DEEP SADNESS BECAUSE, UM, I'D HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THAT. [SIGHS] IT WAS A REALLY WONDERFUL TIME FOR ME, AND I MISS IT. UM... WHEN I GET TOGETHER WITH STACY AND TEACH, I GET IN CONTACT WITH A PART OF MYSELF THAT I DON'T-- BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE THAT... OTHER THAN WHEN I SEE FRIENDS, ET CETERA, I DON'T HAVE THAT MUCH CONNECTION, BUT, UM--WITH THE DEAF COMMUNITY OR WITH SIGN LANGUAGE ANYMORE. AND, UM... THERE WAS A YOUNG IDEALISTIC POET BACK THEN, AND I PROBABLY CREATED A LOT MORE BACK THEN PARTLY BECAUSE I WAS PART OF THIS COMMUNITY-- DEAF AND HEARING TOGETHER-- WHO FELT THEY WERE--WHAT THEY WERE DOING WAS IMPORTANT. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN OFTEN FEEL, AS A POET OR A WRITER, PUTTING SOMETHING ON PAPER-- "WHO CARES?" YOU KNOW, "WHO'S GONNA LOOK AT THIS? WHO CARES?" AND THAT TIME WAS THE GROWTH, AND WE NOW SEE THIS SLAM POETRY AND ALL THIS OTHER STUFF HAPPENING WITH PERFORMANCE, BUT THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT POETS SAID, "LET'S TAKE IT OUT OF THE CLOSET AND READ IT." AND SURE, THEY'D DONE THAT IN THE FIFTIES, TOO, BUT LET'S READ IT, AND LET'S SEE PEOPLE'S REACTIONS FACE-TO-FACE. AND ON THE ONE HAND, I SOMETIMES FELT LIKE I WAS WRITING FOR A VERY NARROW AUDIENCE, AND THEREFORE I WAS LIMITING MY WRITING. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, JUST THE IDEA THAT SOMEBODY CARED AND-- YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE--WITH THE SIGN LANGUAGE POETRY STUFF, YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE PART OF SOMETHING HISTORICAL HAPPENING THAT HAD NEEDED TO HAPPEN UP UNTIL THEN AND WOULD BE NEEDED BY POSTERITY. AND SO, YOU KNOW, YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE REALLY A PART OF SOMETHING. AND--AND THE PARTIES WERE GOOD. HA HA! YOU KNOW? WE HAD A GOOD TIME! WE HAD A REALLY GOOD TIME. WOMAN: YEAH. AH, THAT'S GREAT. - THANK YOU. - YOU'RE WELCOME. WOMAN: THAT WAS GREAT! THANK YOU, THANK YOU. AW, THAT WAS AWESOME. MMM, MMM, MMM. WENDY: I DIDN'T KNOW THAT WAS IN THERE, BUT, YOU KNOW, I MISS Y'ALL, YOU KNOW? WOMAN: YEAH, WELL, WE DID HAVE SOME GREAT TIMES. WENDY: HA HA HA! WE CERTAINLY DID! WOMAN: THAT WAS EXCITING. AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT I HAVE THIS SIMULTANEOUS THING IN ME THAT... WHEN I GOT HERE, I DIDN'T THINK-- I FELT THIS MUST BE HAPPENING EVERYWHERE ELSE. I DIDN'T-- WENDY: MY BODY JUST DID NOT EXIST. AND TO HAVE A LANGUAGE THAT I HAD TO USE MY BODY FOR, NOW, HERE'S A REALLY WEIRD STORY. I CAN TELL YOU WHEN I FIRST REALLY REALIZED WHAT THIS WAS DOING FOR ME. I'M COMING AROUND A CORNER TOWARDS THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT. REMEMBER, YOU USED TO COME OUT OF ... INTO THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT, AND THERE WAS THE WATER FOUNTAIN THERE? AND I'M WALKING RIGHT BY WITH MY--BUSY, BUSY WITH MY PAPERS, AND I GO LIKE THIS... WOMAN: OHH... WENDY: AND IT WAS MY BODY KNOCKING ON MY HEAD SAYING, "LANGUAGE IS THE ONLY THING YOU LISTEN TO? I CAN DO LANGUAGE NOW." AND "YOU ARE THIRSTY. NOW, GO BACK TO THAT WATER FOUNTAIN." BECAUSE I WAS REALLY IN DENIAL OF MY BODY'S MOVE-- WOMAN: IT'S A BIRD ON THE ... - WHAT? - IT'S A BIRD ON... [BIRD CHIRPING] [MAN WHISTLING] [MAN AND WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] WOMAN: BUT SEE, KAREN, AS COOL AS SHE IS, I FIND... [LOUD TRAFFIC NOISE] WOMAN: I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHY I THINK WE NEED THEM FIRST. THEN FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT ME TO SAY.
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."
Notes: 
Title supplied by cataloger
Other Title: 
Heart of the hydrogen jukebox