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City of ASL: Letting Language Take Flight with Peter Cook & Kenny Lerner

April 4, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

City of Asylum hosts a night of American Sign Language (ASL) performances in the third and final installment of our City of ASL series curated by ASL Poet Laureate of Allegheny County Mj Shahen. April’s performance features Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner, as well as local performers Mj Shahen, Valentine Wojton, and Jessica Gould. 

The Flying Words Project is an American Sign Language (ASL) poetry troupe comprised of Deaf poet Peter Cook and hearing coauthor Kenny Lerner. The goal of Flying Words is one as time-honored as the practice of poetry itself: to play with language. And what better way to play than with a language of moving pictures? 

The pieces are first created in ASL. When a poem is completed, Peter and Kenny work out the best way to voice it in real time, establishing just enough words and sounds so that hearing members in the audience can see and understand the images for themselves. It is simultaneously communication as an act of performance and performance as an act of communication. The result of which is a moving tapestry of living poetry, uniquely accessible to both hearing and deaf audiences. 

Hearing folks are welcome! ASL interpretation provided.

About the Performers:

The Flying Words Project’s roots date back to 1984 when Peter and Kenny began performing poetry together. They soon established a deaf poetry series in Rochester, NY which culminated in the first National ASL Literature Conference in 1992. Flying Words later was asked to close out the 36th Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They have been featured at the Poetry Days Festival in Latvia, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Harvard University, The People’s Poetry Gathering in NYC, Théâtre du Lucernaire in Paris, and many places in between. Peter and Kenny have received grants from the New York State Council of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Puffin Foundation and are the authors of four DVD anthologies: The Year of the Walking Dogs (1984–90), The Can’t Touch Tour (1990–2003), Live at the Bowery Club (2007), and Flying Words Project: Live in Colorado (2014). 

Peter Cook (he/him) is an internationally reputed Deaf storyteller who teaches at the American Sign Language Department at Columbia College Chicago. He loves to tell stories to his son. 

Kenny Lerner (he/him) has worked with a number of other deaf artists and is the co-author of the poem “Missing Children” with Debbie Rennie. He teaches history at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY and lives in the country with his wife, two children, and two dogs. 

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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April 4, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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