Monday, March 29, 2010

Sign Language Poetry

Poem in sign language - unheard of.
Poets who have forsaken words with a wave of hands

Vineet Gill

New Delhi: Mainstream poets play with words to channelize their spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.But some poets express their angst,joy,hope,despair through signs.For hearing-impaired persons too,poetry is a possibility.

Today,sign language (SL) poetry has evolved into a refined art form.And Dutch filmmakers Leendert Pot and Anja Hiddinga have brought this obscure and relatively new art to the capital through their five short sign language poetry films,to be screened at India Habitat Centre on Friday evening.

Every country has its own sign language.It has its own grammar and vocabulary.And playing with the conventions of any language gives you poetry, said Anja Hiddinga,adding that this art scores over conventional poetry by involving the visual space also. The message or the content is as important as the form or the gestures in SL poems.Movement of the hands of the poet,while performing,is an integral part of the poem.And the use of different camera angles and the play of lights and shadows add different dimensions to the whole performance, said Leendert.

Anja and Leendert have roped in professional translators to translate the poems of Dutch SL poets,Wim Emmerik and Giselle Meyer,to English and Dutch.The duo has filmed the poets performing their poems in SL,with English and Dutch subtitles below.

The organizers and filmmakers believe that this will not only be welcomed by the art lovers of Delhi but will empower the hearing impaired communities all over the country,giving them new possibilities of expression. A deaf person doesnt want to be constrained by his handicap.They want to communicate with as many people as possible.And poetry is a good vehicle for that, said Leendert Pot.

The idea of SL poetry films was conceptualized in 2002 by the two filmmakers when they were making a documentary about Anjas two sons who are hearing impaired. At the end of the documentary,I had Anjas son perform a poem in sign language,and I was deeply moved by it.We thought of doing something about it.We got together every week,and it took us about two years to finish the whole thing.We have been on the road since 2005 promoting and popularizing the films, said Leendert.


Sign language

A set of gestures and signs to convey the meaning visually, rather than acoustically, using varying hand movements and hand shapes

Though no international standard exists,sign languages in different countries are similar

Sign language poetry

An art form that uses the conventions of sign language for a poetic expression

Like poetry,SL poetry too has different poetic devices such as symbolism,alliteration,metaphor

A rhyme in a SL poem is conveyed by a repetition of a hand movement

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest in the article and posting a comment. The comments are moderated and will appear here once they have gone through the manual process of moderation.

We thank you for your patience!