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Workshop videos

At the end of the workshop on Saturday the poets made videos of some of the attendees each with their own poems, and here are those videos – click the name to view each video.

The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox

After the visit of the Flying Words Project and Debbie Rennie to Swarthmore College last week, it’s worth mentioning Miriam Lerner and Don Feigel’s film ‘The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox’ which celebrates American Sign Language poetry and traces its development.  Kenny Lerner referred to the film and showed some clips from it in his own workshop on Saturday.

There are interviews with poets and clips of historic poetry performances from Robert Panara, Bernard Bragg, Dorothy Miles, Patrick Graybill, Ella Mae Lentz, Clayton Valli, Peter Cook, Jim Cohn, Allen Ginsberg, and Debbie Rennie.

The film’s title comes from Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl‘, which Ginsberg performed at NTID in February 1984. The poet Patrick Graybill, who was in the audience, asked Ginsberg what he meant by the word ‘hydrogen’ in the line ‘listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox’.  Peter Cook was in that audience, too.

If you’re in Seattle next month for the Seattle Deaf Film Festival 2012, then you can also watch ‘The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox’ there, as it’s been chosen to close the Festival on Sunday April 1st. The DVD is also available from NTID at Rochester Institute of Technology here.

Douglas Ridloff’s ‘Transients’

Saturday’s workshop was well attended. Here’s New York based ASL poet Douglas Ridloff performing his work ‘Transients’ at the end of the session.

Performance on Saturday night

Richard Carter takes a bow after performing to a packed hall at Swarthmore College at the Saturday night performance, photo by Congwen Wang.

There are more photos on the Signing Hands Across the Water Facebook wall.

Swarthmore College welcomes the poets

Congwen Wang’s photo shows John Wilson, Debbie Rennie, Peter Cook, Richard Carter, Paul Scott and Donna Williams as they arrive at Swarthmore College.

Welcome in BSL

Rachel Sutton-Spence, Cornell Visiting Professor to Swarthmore for 2011-2012 signs a welcome in BSL (British Sign Language) to the Signing Hands Across the Water Festival celebrating sign language poetry in March 16th – 18th 2012 at  Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, USA.

Sign language poets from Britain and America will come together and explore this rich and beautiful art form with members of College, the Deaf Community and visitors from the wider community. Signing Hands Across the Water will give College members and visitors to College a unique opportunity to discover sign language poetry in the United States and in the British deaf community where traditions, language and culture are different.  All events will be fully accessible in ASL and spoken English.

Professor Sutton-Spence has worked on creative sign language for over 15 years, especially researching and promoting British Sign Language poetry (www.bristol.ac.uk/bslpoetryanthology).

Signing Hands Across the Water

On March 16th – 18th 2012, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, USA celebrated sign language poetry. Sign language poets from Britain and America came together and explored this rich and beautiful art form with members of College, the Deaf Community and visitors from the wider community, to see

  • Friday evening – a “public conversation” between the British and American poets, discussing national, cultural, linguistic and personal differences in their work;
  • Saturday evening – an open performance of poems in British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL);
  • Sunday morning – a Panel discussion ‘how signed poetry works’, exploring the language and themes used in BSL and ASL poetry.
  • Additionally, on Saturday daytime there will be a workshop for fluent signers to compose signed poetry.

Signing Hands Across the Water gave College members and visitors to College a unique opportunity to discover sign language poetry in the United States and in the British deaf community where traditions, language and culture are different.  All events were fully accessible in ASL and spoken English.
The event was organised as part of the work of Rachel Sutton-Spence, Cornell Visiting Professor to Swarthmore for 2011-2012. Professor Sutton-Spence has worked on creative sign language for over 15 years, especially researching and promoting British Sign Language poetry (www.bristol.ac.uk/bslpoetryanthology).

The Signing Hands Across the Water Festival is made possible by the William J Cooper Foundation at Swarthmore College

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