cover image No Walls of Stone

No Walls of Stone

. Gallaudet University Press, $33.5 (232pp) ISBN 978-1-56368-019-9

This collection of works by hearing-impaired writers offers extraordinary accounts of the perceptual worlds of people who are deaf or hear with difficulty. Several of the 23 contributors have previously published work elsewhere (David Wright, Jack Clemo, Trudy Drucker, Robert Panara), but first-time writers of considerable talent are also represented. The selections--short stories, fictional excerpts, essays, memoirs, poetry and one play-- interpret the experience of deafness against the background of wider subjects: birth and death, growing old, homelessness, the perils of the nuclear age, and nature. Passages from Hannah Merker's memoir, ``Listening,'' explore the myriad ways living beings communicate and the richness of sign language. Wright's autobiographical reminiscence chronicles the various strategems that hearing-impaired people use to cope with the frustrations of their affliction. In Michael Winters's fantasy tale ``Melusine,'' Zeus, Osiris, Allah and Jehovah bicker as humanity exiles its gods. Poetry makes up the bulk of the anthology, with many poems composed of subtle images that eloquently convey the challenge of living without hearing, as well as the marginalization that people who are deaf feel in an unaccommodating society. As she explains in an articulate introduction, anthropologist and linguist Jepson herself has moderate hearing loss. (Dec.)