For many Deaf people born into hearing families, coming "home" into the Deaf community for the first time is a common experience and leads to a change in language use and identity. In this paper, we relate how Deaf literary artists, and specifically ASL poets, represent this experience of "coming home." The quest for a home is also a common theme which has emerged among the literatures of postcolonial peoples in exile (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tifflin, 2005) and we will suggest it parallels the Deaf experience. In addition, we look at the symbols used by ASL poets for representing the journey to Deafhood (cf. Ladd, 1993). The ASL poems, "Cocoon Child" by Clayton Valli (1995) and "Black Hole: Colors ASL" by Debbie Rennie (199o), in particular, employ images which suggest that finding home for the first time inspires a liberating transformation of not only language and identity, but also of spirit. It is this experience which Deaf people desire to bequeath to future generations of Deaf children: that which provides them with both roots and wings.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Proceedings of the Deaf Studies Today! Simply Complex Conference, vol. 2, Orem, Utah, 2006 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type

Conference Paper

Department, Program, or Center

Cultural and Creative Studies (NTID)


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