Literature and art

The light and the visual experience of Deaf persons

The Zen-like poem Moon in my Bedroom (2009) was originally created by Jolanta Lapiak (myself) based on her real experience or event one night in her bedroom that inspired her for a poem.

Because this poem originated in ASL, I chose not to translate it into a poem in English. Instead, I will describe the poem in prose.

In a pitch dark bedroom at night, I lay down on my bed on the left side of the bedroom. With closed eyes, I tossed and turned gently for a while. As I tossed and turned, I felt something unusually not dark enough in the room. A light spot had kept on shining somewhere in the rear. As my eyes opened, I saw something. Oh my! It's a full moon right in front of me in this bedroom! The little full moon floated still and shone brightly into my eyes. I kneeled up on my knees and gazed at the full moon. The moon shone brightly on the floor mirror surface which reflected the full moon through the window behind me.

ASL Teaching

From which perspective does a signer describe a scene? It's the same rule if you give a direction on a map, or such?

It is the signer's perspective. In this poem Moon in my Bedroom, the poet describes a setting from the signer's perspective. Compare the perspective of the signer and the illustration below.

perspective in ASL

The gray female figure in the bedroom demonstrates the signer's perspective.

Is there any Deaf cultural element in this poetic story? One of my ASL 200-level students might reply, "visual". Yes, but it's generic. Tell more about how visual experience of a Deaf person is? Sensitivity? Yes. Sensitivity.

Even, I explained, how a light beam of the TV in the middle of night traveling from the living room all the way up the stairs and under the door gap can gradually wake me up. The students laughed the way I signed. It was true to some degree. There is a table lamp on the bedside that I must cover a tiny glowing blue light with a book to shut out the tiny light for a good sleep.

The students understood as they had already learned about how the brain of a Deaf person is different from the counterpart of a hearing person (e.g. the plasticity of 'hearing' regions are developed as tactile and visual regions instead).

Related posts

Related posts: The Star Arrow is an original ASL poem which is excellent for ASL beginners.

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Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.