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BSL poetry meets Brazilian Sign Language

Rachel Sutton-Spence, Principle Investigator for the Metaphor in Creative Sign Language project, flew to Brazil to deliver a course on sign language literature at the Federal University of Santa Caterina, in Florianopolis, 4-8 April 2011.  Twenty Deaf and hearing students studying on Masters and Doctoral programmes attended the course.  Rachel presented many of the findings from the project thus far, and the group explored the similarities and differences between creative BSL and creative Libras (Brazilian Sign Language).

 Rachel Sutton-Spence showing Paul Scott's poem            Students in the class

Many of the Deaf students in this group are recognised poets in Brazil and have already incorporated the ideas of figurative sign language into their own work.  Others are training to be teachers of Deaf children and will take their new understanding of signed literature to the next generation of Brazilian Deaf poets.  The hearing students are training to work as sign language interpreters – they will be able to work more easily between creative forms of Libras and Portuguese now that they are familiar with the basic principles of signed creativity.

It was a week of challenges - Rachel had to teach in a mixture of Portuguese and Libras, and the students had to deal with elements of BSL, including our manual alphabet - but the sun shone, amazing sweets and cakes were consumed, and everybody worked together to further the understanding of creative Libras.

Rachel Sutton-Spence with Brazilian signers

Rachel Sutton-Spence with her Brazilian students

(Photographs by Martin Haswell)