Poetry and Media #022

Filed under: Poetry and Media |

John Lee Clark's poem "A DeafBlind Poet" is a direct and compelling portrait of a disabled artist's life: "A DeafBlind poet has yet to be gainfully employed. A DeafBlind poet shares all his trade secrets with his children. A DeafBlind poet will not stop if police order him to. A DeafBlind poet used to like dogs but now prefers cats. A DeafBlind poet listens to his wife." Clark's work, both as a poet and as a teacher of Protactile, a new touch language for the DeafBlind, is the subject of a recent article by James Yeh. "Virtually every singificant DeafBlind historical figure was a poet, in addition to the things they were more famous or tokenized for," Clark said. One of Clark's poems, entitled "The Rebuttal," is an erasure piece that draws from Lydia Huntley Sigourney's 1827 poem "On Seeing the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Girl, Sitting for Her Portrait." He writes:

Guide, passion, catch what
Hath no speech. Unknown
Joys, power, and meditation's
Unfolding sky. Feeling draws
Heart and wildering language
Still without speech to
Mind. Philosophy fails to
Sway this future child.
A video of Clark performing the poem in Protactile is available on Heather Holmes' YouTube channel. In his essay "Tactile Art," Clark wrote: "The goal of the Protactile movement is for us to get, do, and make everything in our own way. After we peeled our language away from visual sign language and remade it completely, reciprocally, and proprioceptively tactile, Protactile storytelling, Protactile poetry, and Protactile theater quickly emerged." One of Clark's recent performances can be viewed on the Performance Space New York Facebook page. Click here to watch. For more on Clark and his work, check out Yeh's profile, up now at Inverse.
And now, the Poetry and Media digest:
  • Raquel Chalfi's The Hidden Fountain is a portrait of the filmmaker's mother, Israeli poet and sculptor Miriam Chalfi. The film played at this year's International Film Festival in Rotterdam. To watch the trailer, click here.
  • Ben Gunsberg, a Utah-based poet, shared some of the poems he's written during the pandemic on a recent episode of Utah Public Radio's Access Utah. "It's been months and we've seen all sorts of responses to what's going on, people are dealing with this, and artists use art to respond to their experience in the world," Gunsberg said. "But I think the danger is you somehow compromise the grief that people are feeling by making art with this material." Click here to listen.
  • Akhil Katyal, a queer activist and poet from India, is one of a handful of international "instapoets" who made ScoopWhoop's "16 Of The Most Tattooable Poetry We Found On Instagram In Case You Want To Get Inked" listicle. Click here to check it out.
  • melannie monoceros, a Winnipeg artist who claims an Afro-Indigenous Taino/Arawak (Jamaica) culture, appeared on the University of Winnipeg YouTube channel as part of "Sovereign Intimacies," an ongoing series of virtual talks, workshops, screenings, and poetry readings. monoceros' reading explored lore, queer kinship, grief, and more. Click here to watch.
  • Abduweli Ayup, a Uyghur poet currently living in Norway, spoke to the New Internationalist about the oppression of Uyghurs by the Chinese government. "We would be asked a question in Mandarin and told to reply in Uyghur," Ayup said. "Then they would switch it around. Every time we answered in the wrong language, we would be beaten." Click here to learn more.
  • Joy Harjo began a recent reading of her poem "For Those Who Would Govern" by asking a question: "What are the qualifications of being a leader?" She immediately followed her question with a caveat: "Other than having enough money." Click here to watch.
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s 1989 long-form Village Voice review of Arnold Rampersand's The Life of Langston Hughes: I, Too, Sing America, has been plucked from the archives and posted on the now defunct newspaper's website. "I have to confess that in reading this book I fell in love with Hughes, the person, for the first time," Gates wrote. "The more I learned of his complex emotions about his peers and his rivals (Du Bois, Baldwin, Wright, Ellison, Brooks, a mad Pound sending him fan letters from the asylum) the more I admired him." Click here to read the full review.
  • Tam Fiofori is a Nigerian photographer and documentarian known in part for his association with Sun Ra (for example, it's Fiofori who introduced the legendary musician to the Moog synthesizer). Three of Fiofori's poems that were originally published in the Evergreen Review recently resurfaced in The News, alongside commentary from Fiofori himself. Click here to read.
  • Ramy Essam, an Egyptian musician, has released a new song entitled "El Amiis El Karoo (The Flannel Shirt)" to mark one-thousand days since the imprisonment of poet Galal El-Behairy. In 2018 El-Behairy was sentenced to three years in prison. The reason, according to PEN America, is he allegedly writing a poetry book that the Egyptian army found provocative. "Galal is imprisoned because of his poetry," Essam said. "We have to read and share his poetry to keep his voice alive." The song's lyrics are verses from a poem El-Behairy wrote in prison in 2018. Click here to listen and to learn more.
  • Finally, an upcoming poetry marathon that's usually held at Woodland Pattern Book Center, a bookstore in Milwaukee, WI, is going virtual for the first time in twenty-seven years. It's also going to be a two-parter. Mark your calendars, on January 30th and 31st from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT, there will be a lot of poets reading poems to help raise money for the iconic bookstore. Click here for more information, including details on how to sponsor a poet.


For tips, comments, questions, or anything in between, drop us a line at pswebed@unl.edu.