d/Deaf Republic: Poets
I say I’m testing how to differentiate
A unilateral ear unable to locate
Between fitting in/not fitting in.
Oi! Are you deaf or something?
Three poets, brought together not just
for their poetry but for shared themes of
deafness, drew the crowds at a recent
event at London’s Southbank.
Ilya Kaminsky, whose “parable in poems”,
Deaf Republic, was recently serialised on
Radio 4’s Book of the Week, read, sang,
and chanted from the narrative he
created of an anonymous village under
attack whose residents adopt deafness
as a defence against an army.
Raymond Antrobus, whose prizewinning collection, The Perseverance,
I reviewed last issue, performed (and
even rapped) his poems to brilliant
effect, even when he stood behind the
sign language interpeter, and let her do
the ‘talking’. Lisa Kelly (extract opposite
from her collection, A Map Towards
Fluency) startled with her beautiful
rhythmic readings on taking sign
language classes, her loss of hearing in
one ear and more. This was a model of
how such an occasion should be run,
with the poetry projected onscreen and
live speech-to-text transcription.