Thanks to Jean Straus for her Lovely Review of d/Deaf Republic: Poets on d/Deafness at the Southbank in Action on Hearing Loss Magazine

lisa ray ilya (2)d/Deaf Republic: Poets
on d/Deafness

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.

d/Deaf Republic: Poets on d/Deafness at Poetry International, Southbank Centre

It was a great pleasure to read at Poetry International on Saturday with Ilya Kaminksy and Raymond Antrobus. The event was British Sign Language interpreted (BSL) and Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT), and everyone at the Southbank made us feel incredibly welcome. Particularly inspiring was meeting with d/Deaf people who had seen the event and afterwards came by to the book signing table to share their stories. One woman I met got in touch to let me know she has decided to build her own blog site and start writing about her deafness after growing up in a household where conversations about her hearing never took place. This is what it is all about – sharing experiences, learning from each other and finding inspiration to be proud of who we are, and make the changes in our lives that we need to make.