What does Spoken Word mean for deaf poets?

The poet Sam Onclin is deaf and has been working on Spoken Word for several years now. In it NOS For tomorrow’s purposes she sits with her interpreter Freya Workum to tell her story. “Common sign language is my mother tongue, so I communicate in it. With Spoken Word, you really have to dig into yourself to get something out of it, ”she says.

Ghost words

“You get different styles with Spoken Word. Sign language does not only have gestures to communicate. There are different styles. You have calm gestures, you also have visual language, and that’s another unique style, ”explains Onclin. Visual Vernaculuar is a mixture of sign language and physical expression. “You have different styles that suit a specific audience. It’s just amazing. ”

Poet collective

The poetic collective to which Onclin belongs is called ‘The Light of the Kitchen’. “Suppose you are at a party and it is dark. Deaf people need light to understand each other. Where is the light for a party? In the kitchen so we are always in the kitchen chatting. That is why we called it that, it has a bit of a deaf culture in it. ”

To express

Onclin finds that she expresses herself more consciously with Spoken Word. ‘Whatever you want to say, you come out. The message depends on the themes and themes. Sometimes I work with someone who has a very good story, or I have a good story that one would like to bring to the audience. Communication is the same as spoken language. Spoken language has intonation, emotion and we do it with facial expressions. When I’m angry, you will see it in me. If I’m happy, you’ll see it too. That’s how you try to get something done with Spoken Word. “


The poems Onclin created with Spoken Word have never been on paper. “You can see it in two ways. Some people may have their own image where they are already writing a whole story. Sign language is really my mother tongue, and to really learn it, you really have to learn to do something. Some people write it. “down first, and then you try to translate it into gestures, and sometimes it’s very difficult. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember to write it down, but yes, it’s a different language.”


Can a listener follow Onclin’s poems? “I hope they can follow it, if more people learn sign language, they can follow it. Sometimes we use voice interpreters. “

The film ‘Imaginings’ has also been made understandable to the hearing audience. It went in a special way, says initiator and director Anja Hiddinga. “We’ve added titles. Not traditionally with subtitles, but these are titles that move at chest height with the performance on screen. Very nicely made by Amos Mulder, a graphic designer. It worked very well. They are keywords, so you get a idea of ​​what is being said. But then it’s without getting stuck with those subtitles. ” It was a conscious choice. “Precisely to force hearing viewers who do not understand sign language to look as good as possible.”


In the film, Onclin’s story is partly about the challenges and frustrations she encounters on a daily basis. “When I wait for the train at the station and the train changes due to delay, I suddenly see all kinds of people go away. Then I think: what ‘? Why is everyone running away? I’m just waiting happy, ”says Onclin. “For lectures at school, I have an interpreter who interprets all my lectures. If he’s sick, I can not follow the whole lecture. Communication with hearing, many hearing still lack understanding. They say: you are deaf, but you can do this and that and this and that. There are many misunderstandings. “

“In the deaf community, you have a cultural offer, but it is so small. We just want to make it bigger. The bridge between deaf and hearing, they just need to get closer together. It is important that there is more overlap. ”

build bridge

With the film, Hiddinga also tries to build a bridge between the two communities. “It’s because I’ve been a part of the deaf community for a long time. I have two deaf sons. I have seen the limitations, but I have also seen the possibilities. I think it’s important not to let go of the beautiful side and not just the frustrations that are really everywhere. The talents and the special language also deserve a scene outside the circle of the deaf. Accessibility goes both ways. ”

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