International performers

Atiyah Asmal Atiyah Asmal grew up as a Deaf child in a Deaf family and South African Sign Language (SASL) is her mother tongue. She teaches SASL, English and Business Practice to Deaf participants and SASL to hearing participants, and studies at the University of the Witwatersrand towards her honours degree. Her passion for studying linguistics has sparked her desire to understand the syntax, poetry, morphology and etymology of her mother tongue and its place in South African society. She loves creating and performing SASL poetry in her free time.


Susan Njeyiyana Susan Njeyiyana was born in Soweto in Johannesburg (SA). She has one hearing and two Deaf sisters, and only became Deaf herself at the age of 3. Her parents found it difficult to accept her deafness at first but Susan’s successes in life – she’s worked as an actor and presenter on television – led to her parents finally accepting her fully. Susan has worked for 14 years as a SASL facilitator and assessor, with a focus on storytelling and poetry.


Donna Williams
Donna Williams grew up in the ‘hearing’ world of mainstream schools and came to the Deaf world late. She started learning BSL at university and when she graduated, she could sign fluently and considered herself bi-cultural, moving in both hearing and Deaf worlds. This is an outlook she still has, spending time in both worlds. This isn’t always easy, and she reflects on this in some of her poems.


Richard Carter
Richard Carter is a deaf educator and storyteller, one of the UK’s foremost sign language poets and a popular performer of his own poems and haiku in the UK, USA and Brasil.
In 2013 Richard was invited to take part in the Contemporary British Poetry Reception by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the first deaf poet to do so.


Peter Cook
Peter Cook teaches ASL Interpretation at Columbia College in Chicago (USA) and runs workshops all over the world on storytelling, creativity and ASL literature.
Peter is the deaf half of the Flying Words Project (with hearing co-author Kenny Lerner) Their goal is the same as all other poets, to play with language. Their poems are ‘written’ in ASL, then they both figure out how to use both words and signs so that everyone in the audience can see and hear the poem for themselves.


Johanna Mesch
Dr Johanna Mesch is the head of Sign Languages in the Linguistics Department,Stockholm University. She teaches sign linguistics, publishes widely and for three years built up the corpus of Swedish Sign Language.Her research interests include tactile signing, cross linguistic comparisons of signed languages and signed poetry