Monday, June 29, 2009

Documentary about ASL Poetry, "The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox"

I met Miriam in 2007 when she put together an evening of film to close the CAID Conference. As a movie buff, she shared her insights into the representations of deaf people in film. I introduced myself to her at the end of the presentation knowing that we had much in common and we have been Facebook friends ever since.
When I interviewed her, she said that she was working on a working on a special project making a documentary about ASL Poetry. Her documentary, The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox, includes archival footage of performances and video interviews of deaf poets who experimented with poetic devices in American Sign Language in the 1980's. While some may be witness to great events in history, Miriam was an active participant as a voice interpreter/artist.
I had the privilege of seeing The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox at the CAID Conference last Wednesday, June 24. While it wasn't a packed auditorium and the viewing was in direct competition with a Washington Nationals vs. Boston Red Sox Baseball game (as well as exhausted conference participants), the crowd included those who truly valued and appreciated this type of rich documentary.
Lerner explained, "the first part of the film deals with the older style of Deaf poets mostly translating written English works into sign, and then with growing pride in the deaf community and ASL, more experimentation with ASL generated pieces. The second half segues into a time in Rochester, NY, the mid-1980s when Deaf and Hearing poets in this community were privy to each others' works because of the local interpreters' attempts to translate and voice the ASL for the hearing audiences, and translate and sign the spoken poetry, the two communities crossed into each others' realms in a fusion that was unprecedented."
Some of the highlighted poets include Eric Malzkuhn (Malz), Robert Panara, Bernard Bragg, Ella Mae Lentz, Dorothy Miles, Patrick Graybill, Peter Cook, and Debbie Rennie.
When it goes on sale, I highly recommend that you purchase a copy! I laughed, cried, and on more than one occasion put my hand to my heart.

For a taste of ASL poetry, below is the poem, "NEED" created by Deaf poet Peter Cook and hearing poet, Kenny Lerner, Miriam's husband.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Secondary Hard of Hearing Character in Certain Girls

Certain Girls: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0743294262
Reading Level: Mature Teens & Adults

Thanks to Julie for recommending this one! "One of the two points of view is a 12-year-old girl who is hard of hearing. She wears hearing aids. Doesn’t sign." Julie also cautions that while this may be a potential cross-over, it is "definitely an adult book" It is a sequel to the book Good in Bed.

From Publishers Weekly
Following the story collection The Guy Not Taken, Weiner turns in a hilarious sequel to her 2001 bestselling first novel, Good in Bed, revisiting the memorable and feisty Candace Cannie Shapiro. Flashing forward 13 years, the novel follows Cannie as she navigates the adolescent rebellion of her about-to-be bat mitzvahed daughter, Joy, and juggles her writing career; her relationship with her physician husband, Peter Krushelevansky; her ongoing weight struggles; and the occasional impasse with Joy's biological father, Bruce Guberman. Joy, whose premature birth resulted in her wearing hearing aids, has her own amusing take on her mother's overinvolvement in her life as the novel, with some contrivance, alternates perspectives. As her bat mitzvah approaches, Joy tries to make contact with her long absent maternal grandfather and seeks more time with Bruce. In addition, unbeknownst to Joy, Peter has expressed a desire to have a baby with Cannie, which means looking for a surrogate mother. Throughout, Weiner offers her signature snappy observations: (good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card) and spot-on insights into human nature, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. She expends some energy getting readers up to speed on Good, but readers already involved with Cannie will enjoy this, despite Joy's equally strong voice.

Secondary Deaf Character in Children's Book, Julia's Words

Julia's Words
by Judith L. Roth
Publisher: Herald Press (April 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0836194179
Main character, Christina meets Julia, a deaf girl, at a campground. As she spends time with Julia, Christina gets a glimpse of what it might be like to be deaf. She also finds out there’s more than one way to communicate, and that friendship is deeper than sound. For children ages 6-10 and their families. Teachers and others who work with deaf children will find this book educational.

Julia is the secondary character who is deaf and uses sign language to communicate.

To read an interview with Judith L. Roth about Julia’s Words, click here.

CODA Characters and other Resources for Deaf Parents with Hearing Children

Thanks to Tom Bull for providing this list of RESOURCES FOR DEAF PARENTS WITH HEARING CHILDREN fact sheet. Also, I have a few other books with CODA characters....

Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Ecco (September 19, 2008)
Edgar uses sign language to communicate. Louise Wilkes is a CODA and communicates using the Sign Language that her Deaf parents taught her. This character works with Deaf children and hearing children of Deaf parents. There is another secondary Deaf Character whom Edgar meets when he is four. The character communicates through Sign Language but also speaks. Edgar notes that he sounds funny (p. 49).

At Face Value (October 2008) by Emily Franklin
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Flux
Linus', a staff writer at the Word, has a father who is deaf. Linus teaches main character Cyrie sign language and the two use it throughout the book.

This book is written by a CODA author......

The Silent Time by Paul Rowe (September 2007)
Publisher: Killick Press.
The deaf character, Dulcie attends the Halifax School for the Deaf in the early 1900s, similar to the author's late mother, Elizabeth Rowe. (This is one of my all-time favorite books!)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Deaf Teen Races on Women's Motorcross circuit

Ashley Fiolek, 18, races as a pro on the Women's Motorcross Association circuit. In the research issue of ESPN The Magazine, you'll find an article about this young Deaf women who is the only woman rider to be featured on the cover of a major U.S. motocross magazine and when Honda Red Bull Racing signed her to its team in January, she became the first American woman with a factory ride.

Hard of Hearing Character in the movie 'Knowing'

In 1959, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But one mysterious girl fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead. Fifty years later, a new generation of students examines the capsules contents and the girls cryptic message ends up in the hands of young Caleb Koestler. But it is Calebs father, professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), who makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years. As John further unravels the documents chilling secrets, he realizes the document foretells three additional events the last of which hints at destruction on a global scale and seems to somehow involve John and his son.

Caleb Koestler is hard of hearing and wears a hearing aid. Viewers are told that "sounds get all mixed up for him but the hearing aid helps" and that he is "fluent in sign language". Throughout the movie, the father and son sign that they will be "together forever".

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Deaf Superhero Wanted

Whether it is to help students improve their reading skills or it is me discussing my favorite superhero, I have posted again and again about Deaf Characters in Comics and Graphic Novels. Thanks to Tracy from Gallaudet for passing this Call for Submissions on to me.

Call for Submissions

If you created the ultimate deaf superhero, what powers would you add? Who or what would the hero be up against? Here's the chance to send in your own comic book pages!

We are assembling an anthology of deaf superheroes. Anyone can submit from 1 to 10 pages of art, in greyscale only. Dimensions are 6 inches by 9 inches (traditional comic book size) and 300 dpi. File formats .gif and .jpg accepted. Collaborations between writers and artists are welcome. The anthology is for all ages, so no extreme imagery or dialogue, please.


Visit for more information!