Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This report is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

Oralism, Ableism and Counter Culture Lisa Kelly
If you allow poetry to do its real work to learn and go on learning – to steal from Cavafy’s ‘Ithaka’ – your writing will take you on some unforeseen journeys. In 2016, I co-edited the Deaf Issue of Magma Poetry with Raymond Antrobus and chose the theme, having lost the hearing in my left ear through childhood mumps, but I knew little of Deaf culture or British Sign Language (BSL). Early on, my ignorance led to a sharp lesson. I cornered a well-known Deaf poet at an event and asked if he would like to contribute to the issue. When he realised I could not lipread nor communicate in BSL, I got his turned back for an answer. I resolved to take classes there and then.

Having grown up in the hearing world, where my deafness was something to be downplayed, negotiated, or joked about, I was never taught about Deaf culture or given the opportunity to learn BSL. In many ways things have not moved on. My brother-in-law trained as an audiologist and has no BSL skills. It is not offered as an essential part of professional development, and routinely deafness is treated as a medical problem which can be ‘cured’ with hearing aids or a cochlear implant. Such ableism denies opportunities that come with being part of a rich Deaf culture with its own language and history.

Some five years after my introductory course to BSL, where I painstakingly fingerspelled my name and learned how to sign ‘thank you’ – which millions can now do thanks to ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image