Article published in:Language Acquisition
Edited by Anne E. Baker and Bencie Woll
[Sign Language & Linguistics 8:1/2] 2005
► pp. 177–212
Sign language poetry and Deaf identity
In this paper, we consider the role of sign language poetry in creating and expressing the Deaf poet’s identity as a “visual person” in a community living within a wider national community. We show how two Deaf poets from different linguistic, national and cultural backgrounds nevertheless have both created similar effects through their sign language poems, drawing on the folkloric knowledge of their Deaf communities and wider national folklore. Analysis of the language and themes in the poems reveals that sign language components including neologism and use of symmetry can be manipulated directly to celebrate the visual experience of Deaf people. The poetic language can be seen as a way to empower poets and their audiences to understand their place better within the world Deaf community and their own national communities.
Keywords: Deaf identity, folklore, neologism, symmetry, poetry
Published online: 28 August 2006