Projects per year
This article reports on a new way of thinking about analysing sign-language poetry, through observing the process of its creation rather than merely focusing on the product. In recent years there has been increasing literary and linguistic analysis of sign-language poetry, with commentaries on texts and performances being set within – and drawing on – a range of disciplines and analytical techniques. However, so far, attention has been paid to the texts and performances, rather than to the process of their creation. While working with four of the UK’s most prolific sign-language poets, exploring and trying to understand more about British Sign Language (BSL) poetry, we became increasingly interested in the creative processes that occur and emerge in the composition itself. So we gave them a task related to creative anthropomorphism and asked them to think ‘out loud’ about the process as they created their compositions. We took our lead from Think-Aloud Protocols, which have been used extensively in studies of cognitive processes and knowledge acquisition to understand processes of problem solving (van Someren, Barnard & Sandberg, 1994; Tirkkonen-Condit & Jääskeläinen, 2000; Stone, 2009). We invited the poets to reflect upon and share with each other how they tackle a particular challenging aspect that is often incorporated in sign-language poems. This Shared Thinking Process enabled them to explore anthropomorphic concepts together and jointly to create poetic examples, while also giving us insight into the processes of task completion (rather than only its final product).