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American Annals of the Deaf

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Listening through the Bone
Collected Poems

Willy Conley

November 2018

View the table of contents.
Read an excerpt.
Read an interview.
  $21.95t print edition
$21.95 e-book

View the book trailer! Learn more
about the collection and watch
Willy Conley perform a haiku in ASL.

“A delightful and delicious smorgasbord of words worth a thousand pictures and pictures worth a thousand words. These poems are playful, smart, humorous, often heartbreaking, and always accessible. Conley is a poet with the stuff to win readers over to poetry; he has an eye and a voice that are able to capture the essential moment, make it sing, dance, and do cartwheels and prestidigitations.”

—Paul Hostovsky, author of The Bad Guys and Selected Poems

“As Willy Conley states in his introduction to Listening through the Bone, his lovely poems are ‘imagistic, clear, and precise.’ His superb work is deeply satisfying in so many ways. Conley vividly captures the nuances of human interaction and its striving, the cadences of nature’s complex beauty and symbolism, as well as the larger, more philosophical, questions of life. I recommend this fine collection of poems heartily; it will always resonate in my bones, as well.”

—Pia Borsheim, Professor of English at Gallaudet University and author of Moon on the Meadow: Collected Poems, Two Winters, Mother Mail, and Love Poems

I don’t write ‘with the ear’ as most poets do, but with the eye. As Deaf people are apt to do, we become attuned to our world through tactile means, listening through the bone for vibrations, sensing shifts in air currents, recognizing wafting odors, observing fluctuations and reflections of light and movements in the water.

       In Listening through the Bone, Willy Conley bears witness to life’s moments and renders them into poems that are at once irreverent and tender. His poetry examines life cycles, the natural world, and his experiences as a Deaf individual. It is presented in five parts:

o Inaudibles
o Existentials
o Quizzicals
o Irrevocables
o Environmentals

       Conley’s thoughts on the banal and the bizarre include translations of poetry from American Sign Language to English. His identity as a Deaf poet lends a strong visual aspect to his work. This collection is accompanied by the author’s photographs, including “watergraphs” that reveal inverted images reflected in pools of water.

Willy Conley is a professor of Theatre and Dance in the Department of Art, Communication, and Theatre at Gallaudet University.

Print Edition: ISBN 978-1-944838-41-6, 5½ x 8½ paperback, 146 pages, 35 photographs


E-Book: ISBN 978-1-944838-42-3


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