What Words Are Ours? (Online)
Talia Randall’s What Words Are Ours? showcases D/deaf and hearing talent in a poetry knees-up featuring a kaleidoscope of performances, from comedians, BSL poets, cabaret artists, visual vernacular performers, to rising stars of the spoken word scene.
As part of Free Word’s Finding Power in Isolation season of online content, Talia presents this special podcast edition of What Words Are Ours? as part of her podcast series Cassette Tape Radio featuring work from Lisa Luxx, Zia Ahmed, Jackie Hagan, Amina Jama, Cheryl Dole and The Repeat Beat Poet.
A Hero’s Legacy
‘A Hero’s Legacy’ is a Visual Vernacular performance following the story of a soldier and his family by Ish’s VV World. Commissioned as part of Talia’s poetry-knees up What Words Are Ours?
Ish’s VV World creates and performs Visual Vernacular (or VV), an art form pioneered by Deaf artists that uses movement to communicate a story. Unlike British Sign language (BSL), VV isn’t a language with grammar or syntax, it’s all about creating and recreating movement to express an idea or narrative. If you’ve never seen VV before you may want to watch this interview with Talia Randall and Ish’s VV World.
“I love performing VV, it’s a way I can express the beauty of our universal form of communication”
Watch ‘A Hero’s Legacy’ below:
god is not a verb
The poem ‘god is not a verb’ by Lisa Luxx with BSL (British Sign Language) interpretation by Mia Ward and Becky Barry.
Lisa Luxx shares her experience of having her work interpreted:
“I’ve never had my work interpreted into BSL. It’s only been BSL interpreted when I’ve been on stage and an interpreter has been beside me, but seeing it is akin to seeing another soul of the poem. I understand each language to be a spirit, and so this has given a whole new life to the poetry, it feels as if the poem now lives out in the world on its own, a child graduated from childhood, talking languages I don’t know. Thank you for taking the poem on this journey and passing it to audiences beyond my reach”.
“A new challenge from Talia: interpret the (amazing) Lisa Luxx’s ‘god is not a verb’.
We’d previously interpreted ‘Household’ by Talia, and been given the generous gift of no time limit on where the BSL translation took us.
Now, we were challenged to be linear – to match the duration of Lisa’s vocals. This was such a good challenge.
It took us into a new way of working, pushing us to be efficient with forming thoughts, signs, and visual threads 🧵.
We explored the nuances of Lisa’s words.
Every turn of a line.
Every corner of a word.
Every punctuating breath.
We pondered what these could mean.
What they couldn’t mean.
We questioned if we were layering on too much – too little – just enough?
The Goldilocks-es of translation 😉 🥣
We created a captioned version of Lisa’s audio recording.
So that each phrase and word became visually rhythmic.
From this we found visual cadence, connections, space.
practice, polish, practice, polish.
Race the sunset for filming.
Super Lara on the camera.
This is an audio and text version of the poem Household by Talia Randall followed by a BSL (British Sign Language version) by Mia Ward and Becky Barry, performed by Mia Ward.
We began by reading. Reading Talia’s words and creating pictures in our minds’ eyes.We put the poem into SSE (Sign Supported English) to pin point Talia’s vocal flow, rhythm, texture, timbre.Can we play with duration? Can we free up the BSL to be as long or short as feels good? Yes, said Talia 🙌🏽🙌🏿🙌We talked handshape alliteration, rhythm, verse structure, the surreal and the literal.To spoon feed, or to serve anarchic ambiguity?We made a visual house. With different floors, and 5 characters.Mum. Dad. Sister. Brother. Jeremy. (We ❤️ Jeremy).We looked at the flow of the narrative. We wrangled how to keep the meaning, essence, beauty of the Dali-esque flooding of images.We played with body language, height, mass, age, physicality of characters.We put it all together. Watched it back. Wondered if it was too long.Shared feedback. Does it make sense? We re-filmed. Did we get it right? Don’t know.Not sure there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to interpretation of a poem.
Download the transcript to Household here. Listen to the audio version below: