This year, I submitted two poems for consideration in an Arachne Press anthology, What Meets The Eye, a collection of poems, stories, and scripts by deaf and hard of hearing writers in the UK.
It’s edited by Lisa Kelly co-editor of Magma 69, The Deaf Issue; co-Chair of Magma Poetry, and Sophie Stone (RADA trained actor, Writer: Paine’s Plough, The Bunker, BBC Radio 3 and Co-founder of DH Ensemble theatre Co) and with a preface from Raymond Antrobus (author of The Perseverance, and the recent All The Names Given). The cover was also designed by Nina Thomas, a deaf artist.
It was exciting to be accepted – it’s the first time my poems have been traditionally published. Arachne Press is a groundbreaking independent press that publishes collections of poems, short stories, short fiction, and even a Carnegie medal nominated YA novel, Zed and the Cormorants.
This is actually testament to the encouragement of good friends – specifically Ra of Rarasaur – who first sent me the link and encouraged me to submit. It was something I hadn’t considered doing this year, and it was a gentle push to try at least creating and submitting something.
I began by trying to write a short story, but the deadline and brain fog I was experiencing didn’t create the right conditions for me to submit something I felt was a good piece of work. So I decided to write some poems instead – at that point I was already beginning to write poems again so it was a good opportunity to revise and edit some poems for submission.
What Meets The Eye is a collection based on the theme of ‘movement’ – literal or metaphorical, emotional or imaginative. For deaf and HOH people, the idea of movement can look very different to how movement looks for hearing people, especially when it comes to language, the way we process and see things visually, and the things we notice about the world around us.
This particular collection is also exciting because the aim is for every piece of work to be translated into BSL – British Sign Language – which creates another layer of accessibility. All the videos are also captioned, and all available to watch for free on their website. They are being uploaded as they become available, and some are up already, available here.
One thing the press is experiencing is that BSL translation and creating videos is coming at a literal unforeseen cost, which is possibly why more indie presses don’t do BSL or other sign language translations. They have managed to raise an extra £1078.14, but still need another £1421.86 to cover the full cost of translation.
The translations are either being done by the writers themselves, or by BSL performers and BSL poets, such as Nadia Nadarajah and DL Williams. It takes a lot of time and effort to translate words from English into BSL, so the cost is definitely justified, and supports this wonderful venture that I’d love to see happen more often. It will also be a showcase of artistry within the deaf community, the diversity and richness of expression and writing styles.
One way to support these translation efforts is to buy anything from the Arachne Press shop, including What Meets The Eye, Where We Find Ourselves (another amazing collection commissioned this year, around the themes of Maps and Mapping with writers from the UK global majority), or to donate directly via Paypal (bookmarking the funds specifically for translation). It would be amazing if people reading this could either pass on the information or buy some of the wonderful work from Arachne Press’s shop!
My two poems are called Growing Pains and Loops, and I hope if you buy a copy you enjoy them and the beautiful, rich and diverse offerings from the rest of the writers. It’s a privilege to have my work amongst them, and I hope that this opens the doorway for more pathways to publication for deaf and HOH writers. There are also many more of us (internationally) who aren’t in this particular collection. It shows how language can be used in creative ways, both through the written word and in translation to BSL.
The anthology is released this week, but you can pre-order here!