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American Annals of the Deaf

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BUG: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution

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On the other hand, Deaf culture isn’t exactly a shining beacon of hope either. Although not all Deaf people adhere to the same values, more than a few subscribe to some pretty exclusionary ones. Amongst them seem to be these: If . . .
  1. you weren’t born to Deaf parents
  2. you didn’t attend a Deaf institution (bonus points if you were actually born in one of the dorms)
  3. your ASL is not as crisp as a freshly sliced apple

 . . . then you are not worth the saliva required to spit in your face.

Meanwhile literacy rates among huge numbers of deaf high school graduates—orally or manually educated—remain at fourth-grade levels, as they have for decades. Relatively few Deaf education teachers can sign at expert or even adequate levels. Cochlear implants are a hair away from being programmed to raise deaf children with no parental involvement whatsoever (from a marketing viewpoint, why mess with historical trends?). In the midst of all of that, is there anything poignant an overwhelmed columnist can write?

For what it’s worth, I tried. “The Man on the Street” ran in TTMW for around two years. You’ll soon be reading the best of those columns right here in this book (I thought they were pretty good, anyway . . . decide for yourself)!

Before you do, though, a couple more things:

One, only 60 percent of Bug is composed of what used to be “Man on the Street” columns (all revised, polished, and converted into essays). Another 10 percent of the essays come from an entirely different column, a monthly one that I wrote for the National Association of the Deaf’s online Members Only Area (NAD-MOA). That one was called “Mind over Matter.” I wrote for the NAD for about as long as I wrote for TTMW, meaning that, for a while, I was writing both columns simultaneously (and very nearly burned myself out doing so). That’s where the variation in the length of the essays comes from. I was sharing TTMW space with anywhere from five to nine or more writers, depending on the issue. We generally liked to keep things shorter over there. NAD-MOA, on the other hand, had fewer columnists and a lot more room to ramble.

Two, many of the poems in Bug come from an earlier book of poetry that I wrote for The Tactile Mind Press entitled All Your Parts Intact. Trust me; this isn’t a sneaky attempt on my part to get you to buy two books’ worth of identical material. I make it a practice to reprint a couple of poems from my older books in my newer books. That way if I ever become a Banned Writer (keep your fingers crossed), no singular book burning will wipe out all of my stuff.

Three, the remainder of the material in Bug is all new. This is why you’re paying for the book. It’s called capitalism. I like capitalism. It will help me retire, after which point I’ll probably stop writing books. Therefore if you don’t like my new stuff, by paying to read it, you’re ironically enough helping me to the endpoint of my literary career, where you’ll never have to hear from me again. It’s a win-win situation.

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