Detail View: RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive: Interview

Filename: 
ds_0027_panarainterview_cap_01.mp4
Identifier: 
ds_0027_panarainterview_cap_01.mp4
Title: 
Interview
Creator: 
Panara, Robert
Subject: 
Panara, Robert Interviews
Subject: 
American Sign Language literature
Subject: 
Deaf, Writings of the, American
Subject: 
American Sign Language
Subject: 
Deaf Poetry
Subject: 
American poetry 20th century
Subject: 
ASL poetry
Summary: 
Part of a collection of interviews made for a film on ASL poetry, "The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox." In this interview, Deaf poet Robert Panara explains how his interest in writing poetry started when he was 15 or 16 and in high school. He continued writing poetry when he attended Gallaudet and won prizes for his work. Upon graduation from Gallaudet, he began teaching at the Fanwood School for the Deaf as an English instructor where he established a Drama Club and met Bernard Bragg as a student. Gallaudet offered him an English teaching position where he again saw his student, Bernard Bragg! Gallaudet had a literary club where they put on two-hour shows every month. Later, Patrick Graybill joined in as well. When Panara taught poetry, he tried to incorporate drama, interpretation, and ham acting to bring out the poem's message, meaning, and feeling to the students. Panara believes that "becoming the poem, or the book" is important to get students involved and interested in poetry. In 1966, the National Theater of the Deaf (NTD) was established and he taught Theatre History and Signed Poetry classes for five years. Bragg was there, and once again, they worked together. He met Dorothy Miles and they would sign poetry, following the English language but incorporating ASL and mime features. At NTID where he started in 1967, Panara wore a lot of different hats. He taught Literature on the RIT side and also taught Drama, English, and Literature at NTID. After retiring from theatre, he taught fulltime at RIT classes like Shakespeare, Modern Poetry, the American Novel, and later Deaf Studies such as Deaf Characters in Literature. The Deaf students were so enthusiastic which led to a lot of discussions. They would talk about the Deaf experience and how similar they were to the character in the story, novel or play. They also talked about whether their experiences were different. In 1969 when Panara set up the Drama Club, there were no buildings to use. They used the Webb and Ingle auditoriums and had limited rehearsal times-one week. They would do stories, poems, dances, and skits during the first half of the show while during the second half there would be a one-act play. It was like an RIT Club for the Deaf and it was successful. In the early years Congress gave NTID funding for new buildings, including the new NTID theatre which was beautiful and accessible visually. In 1976, he invited Bragg as a poet-in-residence at NTID for six months. They made videos and Bragg signed Shakespeare such as Hamlet's "To Be or Not to Be" and other works. He shares his views on "New Poetry" and notes that there are historical changes in literature and poetry, and although this is not his favorite type of poetry, he includes it in his teaching of different types of poetry. He enjoys Emily Dickinson's poetry who could say so much in a few words. T.S. Eliot said "Poetry can express itself without being understood". It is like Picasso, Dali or Henry Moore artworks, we may not understand them but can appreciate them. When Ginsberg came to NTID in 1984, it was like "Walt Whitman coming!" Panara and others gave Ginsberg examples of ASL poetry and Ginsberg gave examples of the "new poetry". He talked about the poem "Howl" and the Hydrogen Jukebox image. Graybill gave his interpretation of that phrase which was fascinating to watch. Peter Cook was there and all shook up from that image. He began his own way of signing, incorporating ASL. Cook and Rennie were doing long poems which were like ASL storytelling. Real ASL poetry is very short and works best that way such as the works of Patrick Graybill, Ella Mae Lentz, and Clayton Valli. Deaf poetry is still growing, evolving and it's an ongoing process. It's important to keep the poetry going, make the signs inspirational, and have a message so poetry is both song and eye music. Deaf poets want to contribute to the world, especially to Deaf audiences, who are their people, and their culture.
Publisher: 
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Digital Publisher: 
Rochester Institute of Technology - RIT Libraries - RIT Archive Collections
Date of Original: 
2007
Date of Digitization: 
2018
Broad Type: 
moving image
Digital File Format: 
mp4
Physical Format: 
DVD
Dimensions of Original: 
72 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=b3954521
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: 
>> WATCHING IT AND I'LL KNOW WHAT... GOOD. SOUNDS GOOD. >> ...SO, THEN, YOU READY? OK. GREAT. I WANTED TO OPEN WITH JUST TALKING ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. I KNOW YOU TAUGHT ENGLISH FOR MANY YEARS AND YOU LOVE POETRY AND LITERATURE, AND YOUR--YOU TOLD ME IN AN EMAIL THAT YOU ARE A TRADITIONALIST, AND SO, MAYBE YOU COULD EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN BY THAT. MY BACKGROUND IN POETRY. I BECAME DEAF AT 10. SO, I WAS A GOOD READER BEFORE THAT. I LOVED BOOKS. SO, MY COMMAND OF ENGLISH WAS WELL ESTABLISHED. WENT BACK TO THE SAME PUBLIC SCHOOL WHERE I HAD GONE TO BEFORE I BECAME SICK AFTER 6 MONTHS. TEACHERS KNEW ME. SO, I'D...AFTER CLASSES, BUT I REALLY READ MY WAY THROUGH. ANYWAY, COMING FROM ITALIAN FAMILY, MY FATHER LOVED OPERA. HE PLAYED THE GUITAR AND THE FLUTE AND HE HAD GOTTEN ME SINGING ITALIAN SONGS WHEN I WAS 3, 4 YEARS OLD. EVERYBODY SAID I HAD A WONDERFUL VOICE, AND DEAF, FATHER THROWS OUT GUITAR, START PLAYING THE FLUTE... I MEAN, NO MUSIC LEFT. I GO TO SCHOOL. GET THE BOOKS, WHEN READ, WHEN WE HAD A LITERATURE LESSON, AND TO READ POEMS. FASCINATED. THAT BECAME MY MUSIC. >> WHY WOULD... - SUBSTITUTE. >> WHY DID YOU-- WHY WOULD YOU... - RHYTHM. >> THE RHYTHM. AND THE RHYME. AND I WORKED WITH A DICTIONARY ALL THE TIME. ...BECAME NATURAL IN TIME. WHEN I WAS 15, 16, STARTED TO WRITE POETRY, AND I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, AGAIN, FOLLOWING MY HEARING FRIENDS TO A HEARING HIGH SCHOOL. TWO POEMS PRINTED IN THE HIGH SCHOOL LITERARY MAGAZINE. EVERYBODY, MM, GOOD...GOOD. LATER... OH, I'D BE VERY ACTIVE AT GALLAUDET. OH, YEAH, WROTE A LOT OF POEMS. PRIZES. SIGNED. GRADUATED. GOT A JOB TEACHING ENGLISH IN THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF. BERNARD BRAGG WAS ONE OF MY STUDENTS. >> WHICH-- - THE NEW YORK SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF OF FANWOOD. OH, HE...WITH MY WAY OF SIGNING. AND HE'S A NATURAL ACTOR. WILL YOU SET UP THE DRAMA CLUB? VERY SUCCESSFUL. I NEVER TOLD HIM ANYTHING ABOUT ACTING. HE WAS A NATURAL, BUT HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO READ PLAY SCRIPTS. I TOLD HIM, "IF YOU WANT TO BECOME ACTOR, YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO READ." SO. WE WORKED AFTER SCHOOL. RRR. THEN HE LATER ON WENT TO GALLAUDET. I GOT MY M.A. FROM NYU. GALLAUDET ASKED ME TO COME AND TEACH. AGAIN, I TAUGHT BRAGG AT GALLAUDET, BECAUSE... >> WHY...? ...FRIENDS. THEN HE STARTED TO SIGN POEMS MORE AND MORE AND MORE. GRADUATED. I STAYED AT GALLAUDET. 1966, NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF WAS ESTABLISHED. ASKED ME TO COME TEACH HISTORY OF THEATER AND CLASSES IN SIGNING POETRY FOR ACTORS. BRAGG WAS THERE... WE WORKED TOGETHER. NOW DOROTHY MILES... WE GOT TOGETHER OFTEN, SIGNING POEMS, THINKING...FOLLOW THE ENGLISH, BUT ADD ASL MIME. ANOTHER PERSON, VERY IMPORTANT PERSON, MY OLD FRIEND WHO WAS WITH ME AT GALLAUDET, MILES COHN. OLD FRIEND. HE WAS WITH US IN SUMMER SCHOOL FOR THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF. SO, WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME. AND NTD, FIRST 5 YEARS, WE OFTEN TOOK POEMS ON THE TOUR. THEY WOULD GIVE A PLAY... A BREAK, AND MAYBE HALF AN HOUR OF POETRY. LATER ON, THEY STOPPED THAT, BUT WENT FOR THE FIRST 5 YEARS. >> WAS THAT POETRY TRANSLATED POETRY FROM ENGLISH OR SELF-GENERATED POETRY FROM THE ACTORS? - BOTH. >> IT WAS BOTH. ...WROTE SOME OF OUR POEMS AND THEY WERE USED ON THE STAGE AND CARRIED AROUND THE WORLD. MOST WERE TAKEN FROM BOOKS. DEPENDING ON WHO, THE ANSWER IS SOMETIME THEY OFTEN WENT TO... SCHOOL, BUT YES. ANYWAY, THAT'S GOING ON. WELL, DURING THE YEARS I WAS AT BOTH FANWOOD AND GALLAUDET, I TAUGHT ENGLISH LITERATURE AND DRAMA. NATURALLY, I TRIED WITH THE CAST--STUDENTS, TRIED MY BEST TO FOLLOW THE PRINTED WORD AND MAKE THEM LEARN TO APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF ENGLISH. MILES COHN, BRAGG, MANY, MANY YEARS OF MY TIME AT GALLAUDET, WE ALMOST NEVER-- WE NEVER HEARD OF ASL UNTIL STOKOE ARRIVED, 1955. SO, WE WERE USING A COMBINATION OF STANDARD SIGNS, FINGERSPELLING AND MIME. SERVED OUR PURPOSE. WE HAD A MONTHLY LITERARY SOCIETY AT GALLAUDET. WE'D GIVE PLAYS. FOLKLORE STORIES IN SIGNS AND POETRY RECITALS, AND GIVE AWARD FOR THE BEST PERSON FOR THE YEAR. WELL, THAT WAS MY INVOLVEMENT WITH POETRY AT THAT TIME. AS THE YEARS PASSED, I GOT INVOLVED THROUGH MANY WORKSHOPS. I BROUGHT BRAGG HERE FOR 6 MONTHS IN 1976 AND HE WAS OUR POET IN RESIDENCE. MADE SEVERAL WONDERFUL VIDEOTAPES TO HAVE HIM HERE. THEY WERE GREAT. BRAGG, IT'S MARVELOUS TO SEE HIM SIGN SHAKESPEARE. HAMLET'S "TO BE OR NOT TO BE." ...THE POETRY AND...OH, YEAH. >> DO WE HAVE THOSE VIDEOS IN THE LIBRARY, I WONDER... SOMEPLACE THEY SHOULD BE HERE IN THE VAULT, OH, YES. >> WOULD YOU SAY THAT... IF THEY DON'T HAVE IT, I HAVE HOME COPIES. I CAN MAKE THEM, SO, HAVE THEM MAKE... >> THAT'D BE WONDERFUL. THAT'D BE GREAT. WOULD YOU SAY THAT HIS WORK WITH POETRY--HIS POETRY WORK WAS LIKE HOW YOU SAID, SOME ENGLISH WORD ORDER AND THEN YOU ADD ASL SIGNS AND SOME MIME. WOULD YOU SAY IT WAS MORE LIKE THIS THAT... OH, STRUCTURED, YES. MOSTLY. MOSTLY STRUCTURED...YEAH. YOU USED THE WORD "MECHANICAL." YES... >> YEAH, YEAH. WERE ANYBODY--DID ANYBODY AT THAT TIME TRY TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE ENGLISH AND SAY, "CAN WE COME UP WITH IT IN ASL FIRST?" DID ANYBODY EVEN THINK IT WAS POSSIBLE TO SIGN THAT WAY? ASL WAS NEW. I SAID STOKOE ARRIVED AT GALLAUDET. I WAS THERE, 1955. HE WAS WORKING ON A DICTIONARY FIRST. THEN BY 1960, HE CAME UP WITH THE TERM ASL. SO, THIS IS 1960. ...FROM 1940, I WAS A STUDENT AT GALLAUDET TO 1960. WE NEVER HEARD OF ASL. WE WERE INVENTING THINGS. MIME, SIGNED MIME, FINGERSPELLING. >> BUT... - ...TRY ONE PERSON. MILES COHN. ONE NIGHT, HE POPPED UP IN MY DORM ROOM. SAID, "BOB, SIT DOWN. "I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING. "YOU KNOW, NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT WE HAVE A LIT SOCIETY MEETING. "IN THE POETRY SIGNING, I'M GONNA SIGN THE POEM "THE JABBERWOCKY."" I SAID, "AHH. YOU THINK THEY WILL UNDERSTAND YOU?" WELL, SIT DOWN AND WATCH, WATCH...AGAIN. ...I WAS MESMERIZED. HA HA! FINISHED. I STOOD UP, I SAID, "MY GOD, THAT'S MARVELOUS. SOMETHING OUT OF THIS WORLD." DOESN'T MAKE MUCH SENSE, BUT WE STILL CONNECTED, AND...CREATIVITY WAS TERRIFIC. BUT THAT WAS THE START. ...HE TRIED TO INFLUENCE. ...GREAT, MILES COHN. >> YEAH... THANK YOU. WELL, IT'S INTERESTING YOU SAY BEFORE STOKOE, STOKOE, IT'S LIKE NOBODY WAS ACKNOWLEDGING ASL BECAUSE PEOPLE DIDN'T LABEL THEIR LANGUAGES. BUT I'M ASSUMING THAT WHEN YOU WEREN'T TALKING ABOUT POETRY OR ENGLISH LIT, YOU WERE SIGNING WITH EACH OTHER. WERE YOU USING ENGLISH SIGNS OR WERE YOU-- LIKE YOUR NATURAL WAY OF SIGNING, LATER THEY LABELED IT ASL? THAT'S A WAY OF SIGNING. >> YOUR...SO... ...FINGERSPELLING. >> THAT WAS YOUR CONVERSATION? AND REMEMBER, MY TIME AT GALLAUDET, I THINK WE HAD A TOTAL OF 300 STUDENTS. SO, THAT WAS VERY SELECTIVE IN CHOOSING WHO COULD COME IN... AND I, READING SKILLS. SO, YOU SEE, MANY VERY LITERATE... AND I STAYED LIKE THAT TILL... >> SO, THAT IS SO INTERESTING, BECAUSE MY UNDERSTANDING WAS THAT PEOPLE JUST NATURALLY, ASL, HAD NO LABEL FOR WHAT THEY DID. FELT THAT ENGLISH WAS BETTER AND IN A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT WITH POETRY, LITERATURE, WHATEVER, HAD ENGLISH, THEN STOKOE CAME ALONG AND SAID, "WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS A REAL LANGUAGE. "IT'S GRAMMAR, STRUCTURE, IT'S LEGITIMATE ITSELF. IT'S CALLED ASL." BUT I THOUGHT THAT AT GALL-- EVERYONE ALWAYS-- ASL ALWAYS... I DIDN'T KNOW THAT. I BELIEVE WHEN STOKOE CONCEIVED THE TERM ASL, HE WAS THINKING OF WHAT WE NOW CALL ASL. OOH, IT'S MUCH FASTER TODAY. LIKE MODERN LIFE ON THE FAST LANE. SO FAST, I CANNOT STAND IT MYSELF SOMETIME. OOH, FAST. EVOLVED, AND REALLY, YOU HAVE... IN 1980, HERE THEY HAD DEAF POETRY FESTIVAL. THAT'S REALLY THE BEGINNING. OH, YES, I REMEMBER WE WERE EVEN ARGUING ABOUT THE TERM "POETRY." POETRY, TO ME, INCLUDED SOUND. SOUND. BUT THEN A GROUP, DEAF POETS, MANY BORN DEAF... CALLED EYE RHYME. OR THEY SAY USE THE WORD "EYE MUSIC." EYE MUSIC. ...TO ME, WHO HAD...POETRY. AND I SAW THE CHANGES IN ENGLISH AMERICAN POETRY. ...THROUGH SHAKESPEARE... IN EARLY 20TH CENTURY, THAT WAS THE NEW POETRY. LOOK WHAT...FREE VOICE. IT WAS A GREAT THING. THEY WANTED TO MAKE POETRY HEARD AND CLEAR, LESS SENTIMENTAL. FOCUS ON THE MAIN OBJECTIVE. I COULD UNDERSTAND THAT EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T REALLY LIKE-- SOME WAS GREAT, SOME... BUT I TAUGHT IT. BUT... THEN ALLEN GINSBERG... IT WAS LIKE WALT WHITMAN COMING TO NTID. >> AMAZING. - HA HA HA! >> SO, HE WRITE-- I WANTED TO ASK IF YOU WERE FAMILIAR WITH HIS POETRY BEFORE HE ARRIVED HERE. YOU KNEW HIS WORK BEFORE "HOWL"... OH, YEAH. >> DID YOU LIKE HIS WORK? UM... ALL THE SAME. YEAH. I FORGOT THE NAME OF THE OTHER ONE. THE BEAT GENERATION. JACK KEROUAC AND THERE WAS AN ITALIAN POET WHO... >> BUKOWSKI? BUKOWSKI, YEAH, YEAH. >> AND...DID YOU HAVE OTHER FAVORITES IN THAT GROUP? DID YOU LIKE OTHER ONES...? - FAVORITES? >> YEAH. MM. WELL, I WOULDN'T CALL THEM MY FAVORITES NOW. WELL, BEFORE THAT, I REALLY LIKED AMY--OH, NO, NO, NO. EMILY DICKINSON. SHE'S AT THE FRINGE OF THE NEW POETRY. SHE'S AMAZING. HER COMPRESSION... SAY SO MUCH IN A FEW WORDS. NEW PHRASING. NEW METAPHORS AND... >> AND HER LAYERS OF MEANING...MAKE, AND IT WOULD STILL RHYME. IT WOULD STILL RHYME, SO, HER INHERENT--HER STRUCTURE DIDN'T IMPEDE HER IMAGES. THAT'S WHAT WAS AMAZING ABOUT HER. SOMETIMES IT'S VERY FORMAL AND STRUCTURED AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL... SOMEONE WHO'S WORKED REALLY HARD TO GET THE WORDS THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE IT WORK THE FORM THAT THE IMAGES SUFFER A LITTLE BIT, BUT SHE WAS AMAZING... BOTH, SAME TIME. YEAH. SO, GINSBERG CAME HERE, AND I THINK THAT STAN ABRAMS IS THE PERSON WHO BROUGHT HIM TO RIT. THEN JIM COHEN ASKED, "WOULD YOU MIND COMING OVER TO HERE?" AND I THINK THAT HE ARRANGED THAT MEETING WITH THIS... COHEN WAS ONE OF HIS STUDENTS BEFORE... >> AND SO, DID YOU, LIKE, GET READY BEFORE HE CAME? DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO, LIKE, GET READY... NO. NO, NO. FASCINATED. I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT. HAVE A FAMOUS POET COME. NICE OF HIM TO TAKE THE TIME, AND ESPECIALLY TO BE WITH US. HE WAS AT RIT FOR THE HEARING STUDENTS BUT TO US, WAS GREAT AT NTID. YES. HE IMPRESSED ME. MAYBE...MINDED, BUT... I ASKED GOOD QUESTIONS. ...POETRY, WE GAVE HIM EXAMPLES. HE WANTED TO SEE SOME OF THE NEW. AND WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT THAT POEM "HOWL," AND THAT IMAGE OF THE EYES...BACK, PAT GRAYBILL VOLUNTEERED, CAME UP, GAVE HIM HIS INTERPRETATION... OOH!... [LAUGHTER] I UNDERSTAND PETER COOK WAS SHOOK UP HIMSELF. BECAUSE...WAY OF SIGNING AFTER THAT. YES, SIR. IT'S REALLY, TO ME WHAT COOK AND DEBBIE RENNIE DO WITH A LONG POEM. IT'S MORE LIKE ASL STORYTELLER. >> I WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT. YEAH. ASL POETRY IN PURE FORM WAS SHORT POEMS WORK BEST. PAT GRAYBILL... I CAN SEE THAT. BUT BOTH ARE IMPORTANT. COURSE, I'M LONG, NARRATIVE POEMS. >> SO, YOU FEEL THAT WHEN THEY GO A LITTLE BIT LONGER, THAT BECOMES STORYTELLING... YEAH, YEAH. YOU LOSE THE POINT SOMETIMES. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. >> WHAT IF THE POEM GOES ON AND ON AND ON BUT IT STILL HAS THAT EXPERIMENTAL QUALITY?... IF YOU HAVE A THEME. WELL... YOU HAVE TO KEEP THAT THEME IN MIND AND TO YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE AUDIENCE YOU HAVE TO... SOMETIMES, THEIR EMOTIONS OVERCOME THEM AND GET LOST SOMETIMES. YEAH. ... I THINK IT WAS T.S. ELIOT WHO SAID, "POETRY CAN EXPRESS ITSELF WITHOUT REALLY UNDERSTANDING." THAT'S TRUE OF MANY POEMS. NEW POETRY. EVEN THE OLD POETRY. SOME OF THE OLD POETRY... HARD TO UNDERSTAND. >> ESPECIALLY IF IT'S LONG. YOU HAVE TO READ IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. THAT'S WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT ASL POETRY, TO ME, IS THAT YOU SEE IT NOW THAT WE HAVE VIDEO... WATCH...BUT YOU CAN'T JUST WATCH IT ONE TIME, ESPECIALLY WITH THE MORE EXPERIMENTAL THINGS-- VALLI, ELLA, PETER AND KENNY. THEIR WORK REQUIRES YOU TO WATCH IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. THEY HAVE MANY LAYERS... IT'S INTERESTING TO SEE THEM BUILD THE LAYERS. THAT'S...EVOLVING STILL. ONGOING PROCESS. ...ONE THING TO ME, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT DEAF POETRY, YOU MEAN POETRY CREATED BY THE DEAF PERSON. WELL, IT CAN INCLUDE ASL POETRY THAT'S ALREADY PUBLISHED. >> I... - BECOMES RECITATION. WELL, SAME AS A ROCK STAR BORROWS SONGS FROM OTHERS. RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN WRITE SONGS FOR PAY. AND THE ACTOR LEARNS THE SONG AND NOW UNDERSTANDS... THE SAME THING. YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO WRITE YOUR OWN POEMS. THE POINT, TO KEEP POETRY MOVING. BUT YOU WANT TO SIGN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE... POETRY IS BOTH STRONG AND EYE MUSIC. YOU WOULD BOTH SIGN AND... >> DID YOU FEEL THAT ASL POETRY OR... I'VE NEVER REALLY CALLED IT DEAF POETRY MYSELF. I MEAN, IT FELT LIKE-- I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, REALLY. - YEAH. >> SO, BUT SOME PEOPLE FEEL THAT ASL POETRY SHOULD ONLY BE CONCERNED WITH DEAF THEMES, ABOUT DEAFNESS OR PASSION OR DEAF EXPERIENCE, AND THAT WHEN PEOPLE OPEN IT UP TO OTHER THEMES, IT STOPS BEING ASL. IT BECOMES MORE-- SOMETHING DIFFERENT. DO YOU FEEL LIKE IF YOU'RE USING SIGN LANGUAGE, IF YOU'RE USING ASL, IT SHOULD ONLY RELATE TO DEAFNESS? FEEL THAT WAY? NO? BECAUSE IMAGINE... AND YOU CAN'T-- YOU HAVE TO... YOU HAVE TO ENCOURAGE APPRECIATION OF POETRY FIRST BEFORE THEY REALLY START TO WRITE OR RECITE. I THINK ALSO, GOING BACK TO GREEK TIMES, LET'S, FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE SAPPHO. GREAT POET. SHE OFTEN HAD SOMEONE USE A HARP. YOUR POETRY BECAME RHYTHMIC. EVEN "THE ILIAD"...IN THE GREEK LANGUAGE IS RHYTHMIC. THEY REALLY...POEMS...HA HA HA! WELL, LATER ON, POETRY REALLY WAS... BEFORE PROSE, SO, PEOPLE LOVED IT. AND THEY INSTEAD HAD TRAVELING SINGERS CALLED RHAPSODE. IN THE GREEK, IT MEANS A SINGER. I KEPT IT ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT OF POETRY APPRECIATION. THE POETRY WAS A WONDERFUL THING. ...WAY THROUGH MIDDLE AGES WITH FRENCH TROUBADOURS. BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG LINE... SAD TO SEE THAT TODAY. THE POETRY WE SEE IS REALLY ROCK STAR MUSIC. MUSIC. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. >> I KNOW THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I LEARNED IN MY INTERPRETER TRAINING PROGRAM AND THEN LATER, IT SEEMED THAT ONE OF THE--I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S A MYTH, MAYBE YOU CAN TELL ME IF IT'S A MYTH, THAT DEAF PEOPLE WERE-- AVOID POETRY FOR THE MOST PART, LIKE, AVOID POETRY BECAUSE OF THE ENGLISH, BECAUSE MOST ASL PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT TO-- THEY SECRETLY WISH THEY CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE STRUCTURE. SO, POETRY FEELS LIKE ENGLISH THING, NOT FOR ME, AND THAT WHEN--THE MYTH AGAIN. '80, WHEN IT FIRST CAME, PEOPLE LIKE PETER, DEBBIE, ELLA, CLAYTON WERE TRYING TO EXPERIMENT, IT WAS LIKE SHOWING, POETRY IS FOR YOU. ASL PEOPLE, POETRY CHANGED YOUR LIFE, TOO. THE ENGLISH--YOUR LANGUAGE CAN READ IT. YOUR LANGUAGE CAN BECOME POETRY. POETRY'S NOT EQUATED WITH ENGLISH. THAT WAS MY UNDERSTANDING. YES, I AGREE. YES. YES. I AGREE. IT'S A GOOD WAY OF EXPLAINING WHAT HAPPENED. YES. AGREE. THAT'S DEAF POETRY. YES. ...GENERATION. NOPE, IT WAS BLOOD. THE DEAF POETS WOULD PICK IT UP. AND YOU TALK ABOUT TEACHING POETRY, AND WOULD EVERY STUDENT LIKE IT? NO. I THINK THAT THROUGH YEARS. 45 YEARS OF TEACHING. I TRIED MY BEST AT... BEING DRAMATIC, HAM ACTING, WHATEVER, TO TRY TO PRESENT THE MESSAGE, THE MEANING OF THE POEM, THE FEELING. ...I TRIED MY BEST. LOOKED IN THE... MARSHALL McLUHAN WHEN HE WROTE HIS BOOK "THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE." SO...WHAT...PEOPLE MUST DO IS LET THE STUDENT BE THE POEM. BE THE BOOK. GET THEM INVOLVED. SO, THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENED NOW WITH THOSE DEAF POETS. THE NEW POETRY. YEAH. IT'S INTERESTING. IT'S GOOD. >> THEY BECOME IT. I THINK THAT'S AN INTERESTING... SIGNING POETRY, LIKE, FOR ME, AS AN INTERPRETER, WHEN I HAVE AN ASSIGNMENT AND SOMEBODY SAYS, "DO YOU MIND INTERPRETING A POEM FOR ME? "HERE IT IS, PRACTICE FOR TWO WEEKS, AND THEN WE PERFORM TOGETHER," FINE. TRANSLATE, TRANSLATE, TRANSLATE, AND THEN WHEN I PERFORM IT, I--IT'S LIKE CLOTHES. I'M WEARING THE POETRY. AND THAT, WHEN YOU SAY THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE, OR THE MESSAGE IS-- THEY'RE THE SAME THING. THE BODY WEARS THE POETRY WITH ASL. I THINK JIM COHN WROTE A BOOK-- "THE BODY POETIC," OR IS IT DIRKSEN BAUMAN AT GALLAUDET, I BELIEVE. HE WROTE A BOOK CALLED "THE BODY POETIC." AND YOU--YOU DON'T-- TRANSLATE THE POETRY AND HAVE IT ONE LANGUAGE, SPOKEN LANGUAGE, SPOKEN... BECOME--YEAH. >> SO, SOMETIMES, FOR ME AS AN INTERPRETER, OTHER PEOPLE THERE WERE--I DON'T CREATE MY OWN SIGN LANGUAGE, BUT I TRANSLATE, FIGURE OUT THE IMAGES, ASK DOES THIS SEEM RIGHT, FEEDBACK. THEN I PERFORM IT AND IT'S VERY EMOTIONAL OR VERY-- SOMETIMES, I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE POINT, BUT I GET IT, BOTH THROUGH ME, AND THEN I FEEL IT. I EXPERIENCE SOMETHING MORE THAN JUST GOING LIKE THIS. IT WENT LIKE THAT. SO, THE PEOPLE WHO CREATE IT, ASL POETRY, CREATE IT, MUST FEEL THAT WAY, TOO. THEY'RE WEARING-- THEY'RE WEARING POETRY CLOTHES. [LAUGHS] IN A WAY. AND THE BEST ACTORS, ACTRESSES DO THAT. THE OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE. THEY BECOME THE CHARACTER, REALIZING IT'S NOT MYSELF ANYMORE, IT'S NOT MECHANICAL THING. SPONTANEOUS. BOOM. YEAH. THAT'S WHAT I TRY TO DO, TEACHING POETRY. AND LIT, TOO. DRAMA. TEACHING PLAYS. NOTHING IMPORTANT. ...INTEREST IN POETRY APPRECIATION, YES. >> IT USED TO BE PEOPLE AVOIDING POETRY. NOW THEY'RE AVOIDING READING, PERIOD. THAT'S A PROBLEM. AVOID READING AND OOH, YEAH. >> READING OF ANY KIND... I KNOW. I'M WORRIED ABOUT LITERACY. I'M WORRIED ABOUT THAT. >> I SEE IT WITH MY CHILDREN. TWO BOYS. THEY DON'T WANT TO READ. I KNOW. >> HOW CAN I--I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND IT. IT'S MORE INTERESTING THAN ANYTHING... THERE'S WORLDS WAITING IN A BOOK. COME ON... WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO? THEY NEED--THEY NEED ONE...CAN LIGHT A SPARK. BUT TO ME, IT HAPPENED TO BRAGG. IT HAPPENED TO SOME OF MY BEST STUDENTS... >> THEN YOU PASS IT ON... WHEN THAT STUFF IS HAPPENING IN '84, '85, '86, GINSBERG CAME. PETER COOK. WOW! [LAUGHS] AND THEN DEBBIE. OTHER POETS STARTED PERFORMING AROUND TOWN. DID YOU GO TO ANY OF THE PERFORMANCES... TWO OR 3. TWO OR 3. I SHOULD'VE GONE TO MORE, BUT I WAS WRITING TWO BOOKS. "GREAT DEAF AMERICANS." I WAS SETTING UP TWO NEW COURSES IN DEAF STUDIES, SO, DOING RESEARCH. WHAT ELSE--OH, I WAS ONE OF 3 ASSISTANT EDITORS FOR THE GALLAUDET ENCYCLOPEDIA. 5 YEARS OF WORK. IT WAS DURING THAT PERIOD, SO... >> YOU WERE THERE, TOO. DO YOU REMEMBER... AND IN THE...YEAH, I WENT A FEW TIMES. DOWN FOR WHAT-- THE SAME YOUNG BOY NOW. FLANNERY. QUIROGA. HE'S TRYING THAT. GOOD FOR HIM. YEAH. >> TRYING TO START IT UP AGAIN. I GAVE HIM A COPY OF THE DVD TO SHOW HIM WHAT WAS HAPPENING BACK THEN. AND LATER HE SHOWED UP AND I SAID, "WHAT'D YOU THINK?" AND HE'S LIKE..."NOW! WANT THAT NOW! THAT HAPPENED BACK THEN. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE IT NOW?" SO, HE'S LIKE, HE WANTS THAT ENERGY OF NOW. HE'S TRYING. HE'S TRYING. - RIGHT. >> ... DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU SAW-- PEOPLE DOING WILD THINGS? DO YOU REMEMBER... DID YOU LIKE IT? DID IT MAKE SENSE TO YOU? DID YOU UNDERSTAND IT? WELL, I... I KNOW ABOUT THE NEW POETRY. THE IMPACT...HAD, SO, MY THOUGHT, THAT IS COMING. SAME WITH THE SIGN. THAT FIRST TIME, I DIDN'T AGREE, BUT THEN LATER ON, I SAW, AHH. THAT'S REALLY EXPRESSION. THE IMPORTANT THING. DOESN'T HAVE TO BE UNDERSTOOD FULLY. BUT STILL, WE CAN APPRECIATE IT. IT'S LIKE PAINTING OF...CASTLE. BY...OF HENRY MOORE. ...WE DON'T UNDERSTAND BUT, OOH, CAN APPRECIATE IT. SAME THING. >> IT'S A FEELING. IT MEANS THAT THERE'S A FEELING. YOU DON'T... - YEAH, FEELING. >> YEAH. SO, YOU WERE JUST-- YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T AGREE AT THE BEGINNING. WAS YOUR DISAGREEMENT BECAUSE IT WASN'T FAIR? THAT'S WHY YOU DISAGREE... YES. I WAS SO USED TO IT. TRY THIS. NO SIGNS. AND NOW...1980. THAT'S THE TIME BUT, YES, SIR... YES, SIR, BEGINS TO...HA HA! ATOM BOMB REALLY--OOH. [LAUGHTER] >> SO, THAT TIME, WHEN THAT WAS HAPPENING, IT SEEMED TO HAPPEN SAME TIME AS DEAF IDENTITY... BEFORE THE FIRST GALLAUDET PRESIDENT. SO, I'M JUST CURIOUS IF WHEN ASL... YOU NOTICE DEAF PRIDE, MORE IDENTITY. AND SO, THE POETRY HAS HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THAT MEETING? I DON'T KNOW. I WISH--I WISHED I HAD... BUT I COMPOSE IT IN POETRY FORM, THEIR OWN POETRY, BUT CONNECT IT WITH PROTEST. BUT THEY TALK ABOUT FLOWERS, THINGS... THEY SHOULD HAVE SHOWN INTEREST IN POLITICAL ISSUES. THAT'S WHAT THE BEAT GENERATION DID, EVEN IF THEY HAD TO START USING... LIKE GINSBERG, IT WAS INTERESTING WHEN HE WAS HERE. WHEN YOU ASKED HIM TO READ HIS POEMS... INNOCENCE. I THOUGHT, OH, YES, I FEEL COMFORTABLE THAT WAY. [LAUGHTER] >> WELL, SOME OF THE... I KNOW I WOULD READ ABOUT LIVES OF POETS, AND I READ LONGFELLOW HAD TO WRITE POETRY SMOKING A PIPE. ROBERT BURNS HAD TO GO HORSEBACK RIDING TO CONCEIVE POETRY. BUT THE POET...EMERSON NEEDED A ROTTEN APPLE IN HIS DESK DRAWER WHEN ALL...THEY HAD COOL WORKS. >> WHAT ABOUT... - NOT ALL, BUT SOME. >> WHAT ABOUT YOURS? WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE GOOD POETRY? WELL, MY WIFE AND I LOVE DOGS. WE ALWAYS HAD THEM ALL TOGETHER. 7 IN OUR TIME. OFTEN WALKING THE DOG. I BEGIN THINK OF A POEM. OH, I STARTED BEFORE, AT HOME AT THE DESK, WITH A PIPE OR A CIGARETTE. I USED TO SMOKE BEFORE, NOT HEAVY, BUT I LIKED THE SMOKE. LIKE GINSBERG. BUT WITH THE DOG, I WALK, AND THE FRESH AIR... BEGIN TO COME THE WORDS. METAPHORS. GO HOME. THAT'S SOMETHING... >> DO YOU STILL WRITE NOW? YEAH. >> SO, THE FIRST ASL POETRY CONFERENCE OF 1987. '87. YES. YEAH. >> ...ELLA, PETER... NOT YET CALLED...THOSE 3... ELLA...PETER...VALLI... GRAYBILL AND... - BRAGG. >> ... OH, YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT. >> ... HE WASN'T INVITED AS A POET. >> VALLI...AND DEBBIE. OK, 5. LENTZ. LENTZ. >> YEAH, ELLA. - YEAH, ELLA. >> THEY CAME--IT WAS INTERESTING BECAUSE THEY... YEAH, YOU HAVE IT ON TAPE. THAT'S INTERESTING. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. >> ...EACH PERSON... ESPECIALLY ABOUT... WONDERFUL DISCUSSION... AUDIENCE... WHAT DID YOU THINK...THAT? ANY--ANYTHING... YEAH, THEY WHISTLE WHEN... IT WAS A WHOLE WAY OF TYPING. YOU CAN DO A BETTER JOB... I CAN SEE THAT. THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO...ON VIDEOTAPE. YEAH. YOU CAN STOP, PAUSE, GO SLOW MOTION AND SEE BETTER. YEAH. >> WERE YOU ABLE TO PICK UP WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT?... ANYTHING HIT YOU ABOUT THEIR DISCUSSION? NO. INTERESTING HOW SOME WRITE FOR THEMSELVES. LIKE COOK. BUT PEOPLE THINK NEGATIVE...MYSELF. SOME LIKE IT, SOME DON'T. ...I FEEL THE SAME WAY. ELLA LENTZ IS INTERESTING. SHE WOULD ASK, ASK, ASK TO WRITE...POETRY. WRITING. BUT I... SOME I COULDN'T GET. NOT TOO CLEAR ON THE VIDEOTAPE. >> WELL, CLAYTON VALLI SAID HE WAS THE FINISHED... YEAH, THAT'S GOOD IDEA. >> ...HE HAD TO SEE IT A FEW TIMES HOW TO...REMEMBER... HE'D HAVE TO DO IT A FEW TIMES... BUT IT'S NICE BECAUSE... INTERPRETER... IT'S GOOD. PATRICK GRAYBILL, I WAS AN INTERPRETER FOR THAT PERFORMANCE. IT WAS GREAT. HE HAD THE WORDS ALREADY. I READ THEM. IF I NOTICE SOMETHING... SEEMS LIKE THIS DOESN'T FLOW. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" "WELL, WHEN I READ IT, IT SEEMS--HOW CAN WE FIX IT?" "GOOD GUESS. GOOD IDEA." SO, WE COLLABORATED. HIS...AND I... BUT IT WAS INTERESTING-- HE WANTED THE HEARING TO KNOW. PETER AND KENNY, IF... THEY HAD TO SEE A TRANSLATION. HIS WORK, HOW KENNY VOICES IT, NOT MUCH. UH-HUH, AND I WAS WONDERING. THAT'S WHY HE'S WISE TO DO THAT. YEAH. >> ...HE CALLS IT NOT INTERPRETING. HE CALLS IT... I SEE. YEAH... >> IF THERE'S A HELICOPTER, HE GOES...[IMITATING HELICOPTER] YEAH. >> DOESN'T HAVE TO SAY, "HELICOPTER." [IMITATING HELICOPTER] AND IF SOMEONE LOOKS AROUND AND JUMPS...SEES IT. JUMPS WITH HIS WORD. NOT MANY WORDS, REALLY. HE JUST WANTS TO TEACH THE AUDIENCE TO UNDERSTAND THE POEM AS THEY GO ALONG. BEGINNING THE POEM, MORE WORDS. THEN, BY THE END...BECAUSE THE AUDIENCE UNDERSTANDS. THAT'S GOOD, YEAH. >> AND ELLA SAID, HEARING PEOPLE, WELL... I DO IT FOR DEAF PEOPLE. IF THE INTERPRETER DOESN'T GET THE WORDS RIGHT OR WHATEVER, IT'S MY JOB, NOT YOUR JOB. DOESN'T MATTER. INTERESTING. THEIR ATTITUDES. ATTITUDES ABOUT POETRY AND INTERPRETERS AND THE AUDIENCE, AND HEARING PEOPLE. DO THEY WANT HEARING PEOPLE TO GET IT... OH, YES, VERY IMPORTANT. IT'S LIKE READING A PLAY BEFORE YOU SEE IT ON THE STAGE. IT HELPS A LOT. THAT'S WHY TEACHING IS EASY. THEY ALREADY HAVE THE BOOK. THEY ALREADY HAVE THE POEM, THE STORY. TEACHING REINFORCES THAT... >> IN A WAY, YOUR TEACHING METHOD, AND I'VE SEEN YOU TEACH ON VIDEOTAPE AND IN OTHER CLASSES, WHEN YOU BEGIN, YOU FOLLOW THE WORDS AND THEN YOU ACT IT. YES. >> SO, YOU USE ENGLISH BUT YOU ALSO ACT IT OUT. - YES, YES. >> YOU WERE BEING VERY EXPERIMENTAL BEFORE. THIS WASN'T CALLED POETRY, BUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING WAS TOWARDS THAT A LITTLE BIT. YEAH. STUDENTS--MY STUDENTS, WHETHER THEY LIKED LIT OR NOT, WOULD OFTEN SAY, LATER ON, YEARS, I'D MEET THEM AGAIN, "TELL A STORY OR POEM..." HA HA! >> ...THE HEART OF THE... DID LIKE... AND I LOVED THAT BOOK. IT WAS LIKE, WOW... YOU SAID THAT YOUR STUDENTS LIKED HOW YOU SIGNED BEFORE, AND THAT'S WHAT--DID YOU DO THAT ALL THE TIME, WHERE EVERYTHING... YOU WOULD ALWAYS SWITCH ENGLISH, ASL... - FOR PLAYS. >> FOR TEACHING. FOR TEACHING. YES. >> ...MOST OF WHAT I'VE ALREADY ASKED YOU. I JUST WANT TO ASK YOU AGAIN ABOUT... - OH, YEAH. >> ...BECAUSE... THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. >> I FEEL LIKE THEY'RE MUDDY CATEGORIES IN SOME WAYS. STORYTELLING, VERY POWERFUL IN THE DEAF WORLD FROM WAY BACK. THEY HAD CLUBS FOR THE DEAF. NO CAPTIONED TV. NO CAPTIONED MOVIES. CLUBS FOR THE DEAF WERE A WAY FOR FRIDAY, SATURDAY NIGHTS. THEY WERE A WAY TO HAVE BUSINESS MEETING. NOW...STORYTELLING, POEMS, SKETCH... OFTEN PERFORMED IN WASHINGTON, DC. THEY...WASHINGTON HAD SECOND OLDEST LITERARY CLUB IN U.S. PHILADELPHIA, STILL. BUT NOT STRONG, BUT STILL. WASHINGTON SECOND. SO, GO--ASK ME TO GO. MYSELF WILL GO SOMETIME. FINISH EARLY. PEOPLE. YOU WALKED AROUND. POEM OR STORY. AND GALLAUDET, I TOLD YOU, THEIR MONTHLY LITERARY MEETINGS. THEY WERE NOT MEETINGS, THEY WERE... TWO HOURS. MOSTLY STORYTELLING. EVERYBODY LIKED THAT. BRAGG WAS RIGHT. I DID THAT. DOING THAT. LATER ON, I TAUGHT...GRAYBILL... SO, ANYWAY, AS WE STUDENTS GRADUATED, ...SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, WE WOULD...A LIT CLUB AND DO THE SAME THING IN THE SCHOOL, AND THAT FIRED UP THE STUDENTS, BECAUSE OH, GIVE A STORY NEXT MONTH... IT WAS NICE TO SEE THAT HAPPEN. LATER ON, I LEFT TO TEACH AT GALLAUDET. BOB DAVILA TAUGHT AT FANWOOD LATER ON. BOB LATER ON, MAYBE 10 YEARS AFTER I LEFT FANWOOD, HE'D STILL HAVE... LIT SOCIETY, MAYBE, OH, ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR. I SAID, "THAT'S..." BUT BY THAT TIME, THEY HAD CAPTIONED FILMS, CAPTIONED TV AND... >> NICE. - YEAH. >> IT'S INTERESTING-- IT'S WONDERFUL AND AT THE SAME TIME SAD THAT AMAZING TECHNOLOGY... DEAF CULTURE... PEOPLE DO EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING DIFFERENTLY... OH, YES. AND TODAY, MAINSTREAMING. AND WE LOST OUR CULTURE. YEAH. >> BUT IT'S INTERESTING-- YOU SAID THAT PEOPLE WOULD GET TOGETHER, EACH SCHOOL WOULD SET UP A LITERARY SOCIETY, AND THE LITERATURE, THE LITERATURE WAS SIGNING THE STORIES. THAT WAS CALLED LIT. WOULD IT HAVE BEEN NOW? - NO. >> ...IMPORTANT...RECALL THERE'S A CANON OF DEAF LIT THAT'S NOT WRITTEN BECAUSE AT THAT TIME, THERE WAS NO WAY TO-- VIDEO OR ANYTHING. ...LIT SOCIETY... WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE CLUB, SCHOOLS? THE BIG THING. YEAH. >> AND NOBODY CALLED IT-- EVERYBODY CALLED IT "LIT." I THINK THAT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE IT TOOK LATER FOR EVERYBODY TO SAY, "OH, DEAF PEOPLE HAVE LITERATURE." THAT WAS A BIG DEBATE AT THE ASL CONFERENCE AND...SO, THERE'S AN ASL POETRY CONFERENCE, '87. '90 WAS THE FIRST ASL LITERARY CONFERENCE HERE. SECOND ASL LITERARY CONFERENCE...'94? '94, '95. '94, '95, BUT I MISSED THAT. >> SECOND ONE. SO, DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU--CAN YOU CALL IT LIT. DEAF PEOPLE WERE CALLING IT LIT WAY BACK, AND NOW WE'RE HERE GOING, "IS IT REALLY LITERATURE?"... BUT THEY INCLUDE THE STORIES ONLY, POETRY. >> THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT WHAT CAN GO IN...ASL... - MIXED BAG. >> ABC STORIES. YEAH, ABC... - YEAH. >> DEAF JOKES, YOU KNOW...JOKE, AND HOTEL JOKE AND THINGS THAT-- THAT'S LITERATURE, AND YEAH. STORIES, EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING...CALLED LITERATURE. THAT WAS COOL. - AND THAT'S WHAT I DID WITH MY DRAMA CLUB. I FORMED IT IN 1969. WE HAD NO BUILDINGS OF OUR OWN. I HAD TO USE WEBB AUDITORIUM. ...AND LIMITED ONE WEEK REHEARSAL. AND--FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SO, THAT'S ALL. MANY STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS. RIT... CAN GIVE A FULL 3-ACT PLAY. CAN. WHAT WE DID... ONE HALF WOULD BE STORIES. POEMS, DANCES, SKITS, WHATEVER. WE'RE LIKE A LIT CLUB IN THAT SCHOOL, A CLUB FOR THE DEAF. A ONE-ACT PLAY. ... AT THAT TIME, NTID WAS YOUNG, GROWING. 100 STUDENTS. ...ONE... IT WAS INTERESTING. ...GOT OUT THERE, AND NOW I HAVE THEATER. BEAUTIFUL. HAVE THE MONEY TO HIRE PEOPLE. ... 3-ACT PLAY, SO... BY 1977, NO MORE DRAMA CLUB FOR 3-ACT PLAYS, YEAH, YEAH. AND THAT'S WHY WE LOST SOMETHING, TOO, YEAH. YOU'RE TRYING TO REVIVE IT NOW. THAT'S GOOD. >> YEAH, YEAH. WE'LL SEE IF THE INTEREST IS THERE. I'M CURIOUS ABOUT... ... MAYBE...WILL START TO GIVE A LOT OF MONEY FOR NEW BUILDINGS, SO WE COULD ADD STUDENTS. THE FACULTY. THAT WAS IN 1960. SAME TIME, STOKOE WAS WITH THE ASL MOVEMENT... THAT LANGUAGE STARTED TO TRAIN... >> THAT'S WHAT I WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT. I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT-- SO, IT OPENED UP. PEOPLE WHO BEFORE COULDN'T GET IN NOW...THE ENGLISH REQUIREMENT. ...YOU NOTICED THE CHANGE. YOU HADN'T REALLY SEEN GRASSROOTS SIGNING BEFORE? NO. WELL, YES, AT CLUBS FOR THE DEAF. I WOULD GO...DEAF PEOPLE. ...BECAUSE I COME FROM A SCHOOL. BECAUSE THAT SCHOOL... MAYBE 1/3 OF THE TEACHERS GRADUATED FROM GALLAUDET. THEY WOULD USE A LOT OF THEIR SIGNS. ... BUT THEY STILL HAD THEIR OWN ASL, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. THE CLUB. WHEN CAPTIONED FILMS, CAPTIONED TV POPPED UP... >> I KNOW I WORKED AT... FROM '81 TO '83. THAT'S WHEN THE TV PROGRAM "DYNASTY," "DYNASTY"... - YES, YES. >> THEY HAD DEAF SORORITIES, BECAUSE THEY HAD, LIKE, WHATEVER NIGHT, THURSDAY NIGHT, WEDNESDAY NIGHT, "DYNASTY" NIGHT, SO, THEY ALL WOULD WATCH IT, BECAUSE IT WAS JUST STARTING. JUST STARTED THAT YEAR. '83 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THEY STARTED CAPTIONING. IT WAS LIKE MOVIES ON THE WALL ...ORDER THE MOVIES. ...BUT INSTEAD, THE CAPTIONS... NOT EVERYONE COULD AFFORD TO BUY A DECODER MACHINE. WHO HAS--I HAVE ONE...YEAH. - RIGHT. >> EVERYONE HAS INDIVIDUAL... SO...QUESTION... CAN YOU THINK OF ANYTHING YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT...? JUST HOPE THAT WHAT PETER COOK IS DOING ...THE MOST ACTIVE. ...I READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL PUBLICATIONS. AFTER HE'S THERE, ONE DAY OR 3 DAYS OR ONE WEEK, POET IN RESIDENCE, ...ACCEPTING TO CARRY ON, FINE, OR THE TEACHERS BRIGHT ENOUGH TO ADD TO WHAT HE IS TRYING TO DO. ... THAT'S IT. YEAH. >> ... YEAH, AND I USED TO GO... >> ANYWAY, SINCE '99... OH, THAT'S GOOD TO KNOW. ...GOOD. >> IN EMAIL. THEIR TOPIC THIS YEAR... OH. THAT'S INTERESTING. >> ...STUDENTS ARE DIFFERENT THAN 8 YEARS AGO, THE LAST TIME... I'M PLANNING TO GO AND PRESENT ABOUT THIS TOPIC, AND I... A CLEAN HOUSE. I WANT TO SAY ...I'M ASSUMING THAT YOU SPEAK ABOUT ENGLISH POETRY BUT YOU HAVE NO IDEA... OR SPEAKING OF... WHERE'S THE... SO, I'M GONNA BRING RESOURCES, ...EVERYTHING I CAN FIND WHEN I'M WORKING WITH JOAN NATURALE IN THE LIBRARY, WHAT HE HAS, SO, LISTS...LISTS. YOU CAN ORDER THESE VIDEOS. YOU CAN STUDY IN YOUR CAR. FIND OUT...THAT I CAN GIVE TO THEM AND SHOW EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK FROM... STUDENTS... THAT'D BE GREAT. OOH. AND IF YOU CAN INCLUDE THE TAPES BY BRAGG. HE TELLS MANY STORIES. POEMS. ...POE STORIES. POE I LOVED. THE POE STORIES. VIDEOTAPE CASK OF DORADO... ...ONE FOR... >> ...BEAUTIFUL JOB. YOU SAID BEFORE ABOUT YOU FELT THAT THE POEMS SHOULD BE MORE POLITICAL. THEY SHOULD STOP BEING PRETTY... NOT MORE POLITICAL BUT THEY SHOULD INCLUDE THAT... ESPECIALLY TOWARD DEAF PEOPLE... TRY AND DO WITH OUR POETRY. THEY MAKE STATEMENT. GET IT IN PRINT. PRINT IT IN THE KIND OF MAGAZINE, SCHOOL MAGAZINE, "DEAF LIFE," WHATEVER. TRY, YEAH. AT LEAST YOU HAVE IT THERE. DOCUMENTATION OF FUTURE RESOURCES. [LAUGHS] >> I KNOW THAT SOME OF THE DESCRIPTIONS ...PETER AND DEBBIE, THEIR POEMS... THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT SOUTH AMERICAN... MISSING CHILDREN... - POWERFUL. >> DIFFERENT IMAGES ABOUT ...HAPPENING AROUND THE WORLD. EARLY AUDIENCES WERE-- IT'S NOT ABOUT DEAF PEOPLE. SO, THEY WEREN'T READY TO, LIKE, OK, YOUR LANGUAGE EXISTS TO ONLY TALK ABOUT DEAFNESS. IT'S LIKE NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE. THERE'S A WRITER NAMED SHERMAN ALEXIE. DO YOU KNOW THAT NAME? SHERMAN ALEXIE. HE WROTE THE STORIES THAT THE... OHH. >> ...ABOUT NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN. WAS THAT... NATIVE AMERICAN... >> WONDERFUL WRITER. HIS WORK TENDS TO BE NATIVE AMERICAN. HE HAS OTHER ISSUES...BUT, HIS CULTURE IS LIKE DEAF CULTURE IN THAT THEY TEND TO BE SELF-... DEAF STORIES TALK ABOUT DEAF PEOPLE. YOU KNOW, THEY TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM IN EVERYDAY LIFE. LIKE THE HOTEL STORY, YOU KNOW. ...LIKE, THAT... I KNOW IT'S MY LIFE. THAT KIND OF THING. DEAF, HA HA HA... BECAUSE AN OPPRESSED OR MINORITY CULTURE HAS MANY THINGS THAT MAKE THEM DIFFERENT THAN THE MAJORITY. SO, THEY DO WANT TO SHOW THEIR UNIQUENESS. SAME WITH NATIVE AMERICANS. THEIR HUMOR, THEIR STORIES, THEIR BOOKS TEND TO BE NATIVE AMERICANS. THEY DON'T WRITE ABOUT OTHER THINGS OUT THERE. THEY WRITE ABOUT THEIR COMMUNITY, THEIR CULTURE. I SEE PARALLELS WITH THAT. SO, IT'S INTERESTING... THAT'S WHAT I TRY TO DO WITH RIT. I TAUGHT LIT IN RIT FROM THE BEGINNING. I WAS AT ONE CLASS. HOW MANY DIFFERENT HATS ARE YOU IN NTID? BUT TEACHING...ENGLISH. THAT ONE...I KEPT ONE FOOT IN RIT. YEAH. WHEN I RETIRED FROM THE THEATER, I TAUGHT FULL TIME. EVERYTHING...MODERN POETRY, AMERICAN NOVEL AND SO ON. 1970, RISE OF...WOMAN STUDIES. BUT AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES. ASIAN-AMERICAN STUDIES. LATIN...TIME FOR STUDIES. SO, I STARTED DEAF CHARACTERS IN LIT... HARD TO FIND, BUT... THEN I WOULD START UP A CLASS, MAYBE 20, 25 STUDENTS. YOU HAVE 5, 6, 7, 8 HEARING STUDENTS IN THE CLASS. ...A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS. OFTEN, WE WOULD DISCUSS THE DEAF EXPERIENCE. HOW IS YOUR EXPERIENCE SIMILAR TO A CHARACTER IN THIS STORY, NOVEL, OR PLAY? ...SO ON... WAS HELPING HER OUT. THAT'S GOOD. SHE'S TRYING TO PUSH IT. THAT'S GOOD. VERY IMPORTANT. VERY IMPORTANT, TOO, AS OUR OWN. >> YES. - WELL, FINALLY THROUGH JOAN NATURALE AND BECKY SALMON,... RIT LIBRARY, WM, SET UP A DEAF STUDIES SECTION. THIRD FLOOR. GREAT. AHH. OOH. I GAVE THEM 70 BOOKS. VERY RARE. MAYBE HALF OF THEM OUT OF PRINT. VIDEOTAPES. I TOLD THEM... SHOULD HAVE THEM ALL. IF NOT, I'LL BE GLAD TO GIVE THEM MINE. MAKE COPIES. >> ... AND BRAGG, OOH... HE REALLY--IT'S INTERESTING. HE WROTE ONLY FEW POEMS HIS OWN. ... BUT AS INTERPRETER OF POETRY CARRYING ON, HE IS TOPS. OOH, BEAUTIFUL. AND HE CAN MAKE THE WHOLE RANGE. ...PARENTS WERE DEAF. HOW HE PUT IT TOGETHER AND MAKE IT SO CLEAR. ...WONDERFUL. YEAH. PROUD OF HIM. OOH. YEAH. >> ... TOGETHER AT...FANWOOD, I TAUGHT HIM AGAIN AT GALLAUDET, AND THEN LATER ON BECOME COLLEAGUES AT THE NATIONAL THEATER FOR THE DEAF. WORK TOGETHER. >> ... - OH... >> ... ... CAN'T GET OUT OF THE HOUSE UNLESS SPECIAL VAN. BUT HE'S STILL ACTIVE TRANSLATING PLAYS FOR FOLGER SHAKESPEARE THEATER. ARENA STAGE IN WASHINGTON, DC. HE'S CALLED A SIGN MASTER... YEAH, YEAH. HE'S STILL LIVING. TODAY, I MADE SURE...HERE. TIM McCARTY... HE'S OK. FINE. I SAID, "I KNOW..." HOW ACTIVE HE IS TRANSLATING STUFF. AND HE FINISHED WRITING THE BOOK. I WANT TO SEE THAT. IT'S COMING OUT. YEAH, I WANT TO SEE THAT. I GAVE HIM-- HE ASKED ME...STORIES... HOW HE GAVE "THE JABBERWOCKY" FOR THE FIRST TIME. HA HA! >> I... YOU BETTER...YEAH. >> ...ELLA, ELLA... CALIFORNIA. >> ... THE WORLD OPENING TO HER AND THEN... YOU KNOW,... - YEAH. >> ...SO MUCH... YEAH. >> ... OH, THAT'S INTERESTING...YEAH. >> ... - ... BEFORE YOUR EYES. >> BEFORE YOU'RE QUIET. ...QUIET EYES, YEAH... >> ...WORKING AROUND THE... U.S., UNITED STATES OF POETRY. YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT PROJECT? 6 YEARS AGO... POET, AND THEY INFORMED... PBS...THEY SHOWED... THEY HAD...THERE... THEY'RE CALLING FROM THAT... THE BOOK. SO, I WAS...GINSBERG... HE'S DOING WHAT--LIKE YOU SAID. IS THAT WHAT YOU SAID? - [LAUGHS] >> AND PETER COOK. ...150... HE SAID THAT? GREAT. >> SAME BOOK. SO, THAT KIND OF CLASSROOM, GINSBERG, YOU WERE HERE WHEN HE WAS HERE AND YOU'RE...AND IN MY VIDEOTAPE, TWO HOURS... SAME ROOM. SAME BOOK NOW. GEE, THAT'S GREAT. YEAH. WHAT'S THE TITLE? >> THE UNITED STATES-- UNITED STATES OF POETRY. PBS HAD THAT SPECIAL PROGRAM. WOW. >> ...TEACHING OTHER PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS... SO, YOU NEVER KNOW IF IT'S IN THE TV GUIDE. YEAH. YOU HAVE TO-- >> ...HAVE TO FIND IT SOMEPLACE. THE WHOLE THING. TRY TO FIND IT... - YEAH, YEAH. THAT'D BE GREAT. YEAH. >> THAT'S ALL-- - AND THAT BOOK IS IN THAT BOOKSTORE. >> YEAH. THEY HAVE A COPY. I CAN GET YOU--I KNEW ABOUT THE... I DIDN'T KNOW... - YEAH. >> CAME HOME. HEY, PETER... [LAUGHS] >> YOU KNOW, PETER... THAT'S GREAT. YEAH. >> I HAVE NO MORE TO ASK YOU... CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING MORE TO ASK. YOU HAVE PLENTY... YOU HAVE TO... >> ...LATER, IF I THINK OF SOMETHING, I THOUGHT MAYBE COULD JUST EMAIL... - OK, OK. >> I'M NOT YET READY TO START...YET. I HAVE TO GET APPROVAL... AND YOU HAD OTHERS THAT WOULD COME. >> YES. - PETER COOK AND THE OTHERS. >> ... - ... >> ... - YEAH, GOOD. >> ... - OHH. >> ... - WOW. >> ...ART AND EVERYTHING... - TO... >> ...ART...EVERYTHING. MARY...ARTIST... - WOW. >> ...AUGUST, SO, INTERVIEW... - AUGUST? >> AUGUST. - GREAT. OOH. >> ELLA, I THINK I'LL INTERVIEW. I HAVE TO GO TO RIT...CONFERENCE ...IN SAN FRANCISCO. WOULD YOU MIND IF I... INTERVIEW IN SAN FRANCISCO. FINE, FINE, FINE. SO, I'LL INTERVIEW HER... THAT'S GREAT. YEAH. HE MAKES SOME GOOD VIDEOTAPES. YEAH, GOOD, GOOD. POETRY. GOOD. REALLY GOOD. >> ... - YES. >> ... AND YEAH, WHAT YOU CALL A PERSONA...BRAGG HAD TO HAVE THAT... >> VERY CLEAR... - YEAH. >> AND THEN CONTACT THE FICTION FOR LIBRARY... - YEAH. >> THANK YOU... - WORKED OUT GOOD FOR YOU. >> YEAH. - KEEP THE FLAME ALIVE. >> YEAH. THAT'S THE GOAL. THAT'S THE GOAL. HA HA! THANK YOU SO--
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