A student and a professor from College of The Canyons produced “Beauty through the Silent Word,” a set of readings to showcase the written works of deaf writers to the public, last Sunday at the Hollywood Hotel, in East Hollywood.
The deaf writers at the podium included C.J. Jones, a hard-of-hearing comedian and the writer of blockbuster “Baby Driver”; Nohemi Perez, a short story writer and a former CSUN student; and Patricia Riley, a poet and producer of the movie “The Better Half.”
Additionally, Christine Pelisek, a non-deaf writer and investigative journalist, shared her work “The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central,” about the hunt for a Los Angeles serial killer.
“I want to work on diversity,” said Natashia Deón, the executive producer of the event and a professor from COC, explaining how sometimes disabled people are left out of issues discussed in mainstream literature. “(But) sometimes when we think of diversity we’re only limiting it to race usually, or gender or sexuality … I knew there was something more.”
Deón collaborated with her former student Andrea Cota and Los Angeles Times Book Editor Carolyn Kellogg as a part of “The Table,” an organization that aims to connect readers and writers around Los Angeles, and give them a space to share their work.
“What I wanted to do is open it up, so it’s not always me or the readers you would expect, but people who are new to the Literary community,” said Deón. “(People) who don’t know where to start, who are interested in building a community.”
But the reading gave a way for deaf writers to discuss their everyday challenges, as well.
For many deaf people, saying exactly what they mean without speech is a daily dilemma when trying to relay a thought to somebody who’s not disabled as they are.
“It can be frustrating… if you’re trying to write something… that can be really difficult to match with someone else,” Perez said.
Yet, many of the authors have found a way to prevent their stories being lost in translation through the written word.
“There’s a lot of difficult times, and it never really bothered me,” Jones said. “I’m stubborn, I really push through all those things, I break down those walls. I make the hearing people realize that ‘I’m not weak’ — I’m not someone that’s depressed or sad or a beggar.
“It shows people that just because you’re deaf doesn’t mean that you can’t write something beautiful,” said Cota. “Words off pages come to life, and even though you can’t hear them, you can write them.”
For more information on “The Table,” click here.