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ASL Festival: Eye Music - Performance

American Sign Language Poetry and Performance Festival
Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 7:30pm
Digital Arts Research Center (DARC) Rm 108 (UCSC)
Presented by: 
Arts Division

Seating in DARC 108 is limited. First-come, first-serve. Please arrive early. Doors will open at 7:00pm. No standing room.

Nationally acclaimed Deaf poets and performing artists visit UCSC for an evening of stunning poetry performed in American Sign Language — for Deaf and non-Deaf audiences. Featuring Flying Words Project (Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner, pictured) with Karen Christie and Patrick Graybill.

Free and open to the public.

We expect this event to sell out.
Seating is limited (approximately 100).

Doors will open to the public at 7:00PM.
There will limited overflow seating offered with a large-screen "simulcast" of the presentation in a nearby screening room (Rm. 317).
Parking $4
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Karen Christie (name-sign “KC”) recently retired as a professor of Deaf Cultural Studies and English from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has taught ASL literature courses and published articles on ASL poetry. In addition, she has written poetry published in Deaf Lit Extravaganza, White Space Anthology, An Introduction to American Deaf Culture, and Clerc Scar. Along with Patti Durr, she has produced and edited an online subscription-based website: The HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood.

Peter S. Cook is an internationally reputed Deaf performing artist whose works incorporate American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement. Peter has traveled extensively around the country and aboard with Flying Words Project to promote ASL Literature with Kenny Lerner since 1986. Peter has appeared in Live from Off Center’s “Words on Mouth” (PBS) and “United States of Poetry” (PBS) produced by Emmy-winner Bob Holman. Peter teaches at Columbia College where he received the 1997 Excellence in Teaching award. Peter was featured nationally in festivals such as the Jonesboro National Storytelling festival, Oklahoma City Winter Tales, Illinois Storytelling Festival, Indiana Hoosier Storytelling Festival, Eugene Oregon Multi-Cultural Festival, and The Deaf Way II and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He was invited to the White House to join the National Book Festival in 2003. Internationally, Peter has worked with Deaf storytellers/poets in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and Japan. He lives in Chicago and teaches in the ASL-English Interpretation Department at Columbia College. He loves to tell stories to his son.

Patrick Graybill, revered as a grandfather of ASL poetry, was born in Kansas just before World War II began. He is one of seven children; five of them, including him, were born Deaf. He has a hearing sister who is a retired sign language interpreter. In 1958, he graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf, where an eloquent Deaf storyteller made him think seriously about becoming like her. There, he also saw his older sister in a school production of Tom Sawyer which planted in his head the desire to be an actor. He graduated from Gallaudet College with a bachelor’s degree in Englishin 1963 and a master’s degree in education in 1964. He took a position as an instructor at Kendall School for the Deaf for three years. He became disillusioned with his first career and decided to study to be a Roman Catholic priest at Catholic University for two years — without interpreting services. It was a struggle that motivated him to accept an invitation to be a member of the newly established National Theatre of the Deaf. There he had a wonderful decade as a professional actor and, for a few years, operated its summer school for aspiring actors. He retired in 2004 having been a performing arts and literature professor for 23 years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He recently retired as permanent deacon for Emmanuel Church of the Deaf in Rochester, New York, after 32 years. He was conferred the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorius Causa, from St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida, in 2005. His avocations are acting, storytelling, creating, translating texts from English into American Sign Language, and creating original poems in ASL.

Kenny Lerner received his BA from Beloit College and his M.Ed in Deaf Education from the University of Virginia. He teaches History of Modern America at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York. Kenny also creates ASL poetry with his Deaf performing partner, Peter Cook. Together they comprise Flying Words Project, a collaboration that commenced in 1984. Flying Words has performed in Latvia, the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Italy, and numerous venues across the United States. Kenny has been the recipient of grants from the New York State Council of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Puffin Foundation, and has co-authored three DVD ASL poetry anthologies. Kenny is especially proud of his work in helping establish a Deaf poetry series in Rochester that culminated in the First National ASL Literature Conference in 1992.

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The ASL Festival is curated by Professor of Music Larry Polansky.

Made possible with support from:
Porter College Hitchcock Poetry Fund, UCSC
Division of the Arts, UCSC
Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence, UCSC
Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz
Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UCSC
Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Department of Linguistics, UCSC