I have been deaf since I was three years old and began performing when I was young as a way to communicate with others since sign langauage wasn't available to me. I began writing poetry as a way to express my inner self.
At the age of nineteen I discovered American Sign Language (ASL) and my creative expression exploded. Most ASL poetry I had seen was a literal translation of each word of the poem, which created, for me, an unimaginative, stagnant visual form only understandable to an ASL audience.
I wanted to express myself beyond that, but didn't know of any other style.
In college, I took a poetry workshop with Allen Ginsberg in which we explored the ways to communicate the poetry on the page into visual forms. While working with "Howl", we discovered that the wit and the rhyme couldn't be translated, but the hard clear picture could flourish.
I began to develop my own style of visual rhymes and rythms using repetitive hand shapes, for example, to create different pictures that are unified by a similarity of forms.
After college I founded a non-profit organization,
"Flying Words Project", which showcased the talents of deaf storytellers, poets, playwrights and other artists from around the world.
There my work expanded to include elements of other performance mediums: such as, dance, mime, storytelling, movement and acting to better communicate my message in a clearer way to the audience. My audiences generally consist of a wide range of people, from those who are deaf or hearing impaired to those who can hear. Also, they have varying degrees of experience with so called "Deaf Theatre".
I strive to create a direct means of communication with all members of my audience. Regardless of whether I am in the United States or abroad, and regardless of their orientation or experience. Granted that this is a large task and I sometimes don't always hit the mark. I still strive to reach my diverse audience in the best way I can.
Lately, I have been experimenting with video and film and have been relying less on a volced interpretations of my performances. It is in the nature of my work to promote the understand of deafness and
deaf culture because much of my material is personal either based on personal experience or something that appeals to me in a direct
So, much of what I do is colored by me being deaf I believe that the more I can expose the mainstream art world to ASL
visual poetry, the more ASL and deaf culture will be accepted. In addition. Mainstream artists may be able to incorporate elements of my
vsual poetry into their work.