Sunday, May 29, 2005

DeAf Jam

After dinner at Lima's Taste (Peruvian restaurant) with a dear friend, we headed out to DeAf Jam at the Bowery Poetry Club. DeAf Jam was a poetry slam event where spoken word met ASL. The house was packed, and cameras captured this event. I truly enjoyed myself. This was different from the monthly ASL Poetry Slam that meets regularly at the Club. Read below for descriptions from the event flyer.

Join us for DeAf Jam where spoken word meets ASL poetry! The event
features some of the most acclaimed Deaf poets in the United States --
the Flying Words Project with Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner, and Ayisha
Knight, whose poetry was recently featured on HBO. DeAf Jam brings
these ASL masters together with the Urban Word NYC slam poets, the
2005 National Champions!

The Program is directed by Judy Lieff, and co-sponsored by City Lore
and Urban Word.

DeAf Jam highlights the remarkable poetry and storytelling of the
community of the Deaf, as they perform their poems in American Sign
Language (ASL). In this dramatic visual language, body language,
rhythm and movement create a visual equivalent to oral poetry.

DeAf Jam also showcases the students of Lexington School for the Deaf,
JS47 (The American Sign Language and English School), and Murray
Bergtraum High School. DeAf Jam (a play on HBO's Def Jam) features a
Hearing/Deaf duet by Aneta Brodsky and Tahani Salah; a special
presentation by Hinda Kasher, involving members of her Deaf family;
and poets Danny Biland, Aneta Brodsky, Mandy Gonzalez, Robert
Haughton, Hinda Kasher, Aron Moses, Kenneth Montanez, Wanda Nivol, and
Tremaine Parkinson.

The evening closes with an open dialogue between performers and
audience, moderated by Dirksen Bauman, Associate Professor of the
Department of ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York State Council on
the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts; DeAf Jam -- a
cultural initiative and documentary film project -- highlights the
beauty and expressiveness of American Sign Language by giving deaf
teenagers a chance to express themselves in ASL poetry, while opening
the lines of communication between the worlds of the hearing and the
Deaf. Funding for live performance captioning from c2 (caption
coalition), inc is provided by the Theatre Development's TAP Plus
Program in cooperation with the New York State Council on the Arts.

Deaf artist Peter Cook and hearing voice Kenny Lerner have performed
as The Flying Words Project at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis,
Harvard University, The Nuyorican Cafe, Theatre de Lucernaire in
Paris, and many places in between. They have received grants from
NYSCA, the NEA, and the Puffin Foundation. Robert Koehler of the Los
Angeles Times calls the work produced by deaf artist Cook and his
hearing partner Lerner, "a theatre held aloft by language." Cook
appeared in PBS's United States of Poetry.

Urban Word NYC, this year's 2005 national champions, ignited the youth
spoken word and poetry scene in New York City when it was established
in 1999. Since then, Urban Word NYC has provided thousands of New York
City teenagers with free, safe, ongoing, and uncensored writing and
performance opportunities. They believe teenagers can and must speak
for themselves and the key to building self-confidence, honing
critical thinking skills, and developing imaginative and honest
writing is to honor what they say and feel.

Judy Lieff, dancer, filmmaker, and teacher, earned her M.F.A. in dance
& experimental film/video from CalArts following a career as a
professional dancer. Judy has produced, directed, and edited many
short dance films that have won awards and screened internationally.
Duties of My Heart, her short film synthesizing dance and American
Sign Language, was the catalyst for four consecutive grants to teach
video production workshops to Deaf high school students in Los

A non-profit membership organization, City Lore was founded in 1986 to
produce programs and publications that convey the richness of New York
City's cultural heritage. Increasingly their many efforts embrace
national audiences as well. City Lore's staff includes folklorists,
historians, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists, all of whom
specialize in the creation of programs and materials for public
education and enjoyment. In addition to staff projects, affiliated
individuals and organizations work through City Lore to produce
independent films, exhibits, and other media projects.

Call City Lore at 212-529-1955 for more information.

I assume you can contact City Lore about the filming that took place last night.

On another note....

Monthly regular ASL poetry slams takes place on the 3rd Monday or Wednesday (sorry I don't remember) of the month from 6-8 at Bowery Poetry Club. Anyone can get up and share a poem or do a poetry slam.

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, between Houston and Bleeker

Directions to Bowery Poetry Club: F or V to Broadway-Lafayette, or #6
to Bleeker.