The Sophistication of Sign Language Poetry. A workshop by Douglas Ridloff


From 29 September 2019




Garage Education Center


Demonstrating the importance and uniqueness of sign language, Garage presents a workshop by Douglas Ridloff, a poet and visual storyteller creating original works in Sign Language.

Douglas is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization ASL SLAM—a monthly open mic event in NYC that functions as a space for the Deaf community to creatively play with ASL through poetry performances, improv, games, and storytelling, often spotlighting special guests from around the world to introduce to local communities. As a widely popular platform, ASL SLAM has now also been established as a monthly event in Washington DC, Chicago, and Orlando with Ridloff’s vision and guidance. Recently, Ridloff curated a lineup of sign language performances at the Whitney Museum, the Jewish Museum, SITE Santa Fe, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

This workshop will focus on sign language poetry and its various modalities, covering some of the history of sign language poetry as an expressive form, from its origins as a translation medium, working from English source texts, through its evolution into its own original art form with various genres and styles. Included will be a discussion on the similarities and differences between visual poetry and visual storytelling, as well as methods for identifying those differences whether or not to blend both mediums.

Douglas Ridloff will also cover his own life experiences, and how they led to his participation in ASL SLAM, the non-profit organization he runs. He will give a brief overview and history of ASL SLAM, its impact on the Deaf community, and its mission.

There will then be activities where participants will be able to play with language in a safe space, and create their own poetry. Finally, there will be a Q&A session with the presenter.



Douglas Ridloff (b. 1975, New York City) is a poet and visual storyteller creating original works in Sign Language. He has traveled to perform his own poetry and to bring ASL SLAM to signing communities around the world, including Jamaica, Cuba, Finland, England, Europe, Norway, Israel, and Australia.  He has worked as an ASL consultant for film and TV with the likes of John Kraskinsky, Emily Blunt, Sam Rockwell, Donald Glover, and Anthony Edwards. He has been featured in NBC NEWS, Circa, HBO Vice, and CNN’s Great Big Story for his work and gave a talk at TEDx Vienna in 2018. Based in Brooklyn, NY he currently lives in London.


Free admission with advance registration.

The lecture will be simultaneously interpreted into the Russian language, enabling hearing visitors to participate.