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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Teaching from the Heart and Soul: The Robert F. Panara Story

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The real fun began when Ginsberg read several of his own poems, including “Howl,” with its “pornographic” verse and abstract terms like “Angelheaded hipsters,” “Starry dynamo,” and “Hydrogen juke box.” The deaf actor Pat Graybill attempted to translate by miming the words for “music,” “box,” “coin from pocket,” “vertical record becoming horizontal,” “needle going around,” “thunder shaking,” and “bomb exploding.”

“That looks like it, that’s good!” Ginsberg said excitedly. “There’s a logical jump in that whole other picture—that’s interesting!”24 Jim Cohn, who had invited Ginsberg to meet Bob, recalled the use of ASL to sign “hydrogen jukebox” as an “extralinguistic moment that verified the sonic quality of images.”25

Bob reflected that the workshop with Ginsberg was “the kind of happening I’ve often dreamed of—the opportunity to have a dialog with a distinguished poet, and to demonstrate signed poetry as a totally different mode of expression.”26


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