Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sign Language Poetry

I found out at the last minute about last night's inspiring poetry event at the Talbot Rice Art Gallery. It featured poetry from British Sign Language (BSL) poet Richard Carter. To start with Richard performed some poetry in response to some of the artworks in the intriguing Anton Henning exhibition that was displayed in the gallery. He then performed some poetry from his usual repertoire, some initially without spoken English interpretation.


BSL is a wonderfully expressive language and even without spoken English interpretation, I found it possible to understand the main themes of the poetry. I particularly enjoyed the poem Autumn where books became birds became falling autumn leaves.


After the event, I chatted (through an interpreter) to Richard about imagery in poetry and specifically about haiku. BSL is an ideal language for haiku, with its emphasis on images. In fact BSL haiku are even more pared down and compressed than English language haiku - two BSL signs can convey a haiku very well! There is a BSL haiku website here, where you can find out more and watch some BSL haiku in action.


There is a BSL poetry website forthcoming that should soon be visible here.


As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

8 comments:

Pomona said...

The books and the birds image made me think of 'A Martian Sends a Postcard Home' - I bet that poem would be great in BSL.

Pomona x

Carver said...

What an interesting post. My daughter has learned sign language and I bet she'd find this interesting too.

EG Wow said...

I would have liked to have been there! It never occurred to me haiku might actually work in sign language. Hmmm.

Gordon Mason said...

Do you know if they do such poetry at Donaldsons new school? Perhaps you could lend your expert help there, Juliet.

Rabbits' Guy said...

What a concept!

Re: the previous post .. we just got a copy of The Hidden Persuaders written by Vance Packard in the 1950's because we want to review how so much of the world has gotten to this "must have more stuff" .. particularly the beginnings of mass advertisement.

grubbygrrrl said...

Sign language is so beautiful. I never thought of SL poetry which is an amazing idea. I'm just oblivious to the whole world of the hearing impaired. I can imagine what books turning to birds must look like in SL.
And I saw you like Sigur Ros I LOVE them!!! If I went deaf they would probably be the #1 thing I would miss! Couldn't resist mentioning that. :)

Hannah Stephenson said...

So fantastic! I'm glad you shared this--thanks!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Gordon - I've no idea, I'll need to make enquiries about that!

Rabbit's Guy - I'll look out for that book...