John Lee Clark
Author and Protactile Educator
jlc at johnleeclark dot com
By way of brief introduction, let me say this in a rush: I am a DeafBlind poet, essayist, historian, translator, and an actor in the most thrilling development in DeafBlind history, the Protactile movement.
Everything I do is part of a passionate pedagogy and worldmaking. Read more on what adventures I can offer you and your organization.
How to Communicate
Formally restless and relentlessly instructive, How to Communicate is a dynamic journey through language, community, and the unfolding of an identity.
Where I Stand
This collection of essays from one of the country’s leading voices on issues facing the signing community appears at a time of troubling trends and exciting new developments.
Article at McSweeney's
Essay at Wordgathering
JLC @ Poetry Foundation
Poems at the Poetry Foundation
By way of brief introduction, let me say this in a rush: I am a DeafBlind poet, essayist, historian, translator, and an actor in the most thrilling development in DeafBlind history, the Protactile movement.Currently I’m a 2021-2023 Bush Leadership Fellow, a core member of Protactile Language Interpreting National Education Center, and a research consultant with the Reciprocity Lab at the University of Chicago.It has been my honor, recently, to be a member of the inaugural class of Disability Futures Fellows and the recipient of a National Magazine Award for my essay “Tactile Art” as well as the Frederick Bock Prize from my beloved Poetry magazine.More suggestive of the vibrations around me, though, are my neurodiverse habits and obsessions, my love of reading and rummaging around in abandoned archives, my feeling of fierce kinship with fellow DeafBlind people and Protactile accomplices, my occasional turns to knitting and other artmaking, my tendency to plunge into warm bodies of water.I am blessed to make my home in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, with my brilliant partner, the ASL Deaf artist Adrean Clark; our three amazing roommates, a.k.a. our kids; and two feline collaborators.
Everything I do is part of a passionate pedagogy and worldmaking. Sometimes these adventures take the form of classes, seminars, and concentrated experiences of immersion and collaboration. I also offer rigorous consulting with organizations and institutions eager for the shifting of the whole ground that Protactile entails.Learning opportunities I’ve recently cultivated or coordinated include:- Virtual and in-person undergraduate and graduate courses in Protactile and DeafBlind Studies.
- Month-long virtual Protactile Theory Seminars, with guest presenters.
- Week-long immersions in Protactile language and co-navigation, with co-trainers.
- Mentoring for DeafBlind leaders, artists, researchers, and educators.
- Retreats for boards of directors, administrators, and staff.
- Weekly one-on-one instruction and group clinics.
- Week-long virtual book events, with featured authors.
- Presentations, workshops, and read-togethers.
- Protactile Slams featuring storytelling and poetry, with fellow performers.Feel free to reach out if you’d like to sign up for or sponsor any of the above or have me and my colleagues create something new!
How to Communicate
How to Communicate: Poems
Release date: December 6, 2022
Hardcover. W. W. Norton, $26.95.Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/132403534XBarnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-communicate-john-lee-clark/1140914172Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-communicate-poems/9781324035343Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781324035343-
A stunning debut that “brims with the talent and generosity of a living classic” (Ilya Kaminsky), from an award-winning DeafBlind poet.Formally restless and relentlessly instructive, How to Communicate is a dynamic journey through language, community, and the unfolding of an identity. Poet John Lee Clark pivots from inventive forms inspired by the Braille slate to sensuous prose poems to pathbreaking translations from ASL and Protactile, a language built on touch. Amid the astonishing task of constructing a new canon, Clark reveals a radically commonplace life―-the vagaries of family, grief, and small delights: visiting a museum, knitting, and, once, encountering a ghost in a gas station. A rare work of transformation and necessary discovery, How to Communicate offers a “steadily revelatory gift” (Carl Phillips).-
Advance Praise for How to Communicate“[How to Communicate is] a manifesto that lays bare the ways in which a society that assumes seeing and hearing as the norm views touch as suspicious, enough so to try to outlaw touch. And yet, if manifesto, also invitation: what might it mean to write ‘forward in a different direction and from a different spatial perspective,’ Clark asks, and goes on to show us, in poems of formal virtuosity, of fierce tenderness, of triumphant community. . . . How to Communicate is the steadily revelatory gift I didn’t know I’d been waiting for.”—Carl Phillips“How to Communicate brims with the talent and generosity of a living classic. And what a talent! . . . There is simply no one else like John Lee Clark and I envy the readers who discover him for the first time.”—Ilya Kaminsky“How to Communicate is a vital and precious bridge made of language—and once crossed, it will transform readers’ sense of the world.”—Aviya Kushner“John Lee Clark writes throughout How to Communicate of being exoticized, pathologized, infantilized. Yet, again and again, we find him demanding beauty. . . . That he is frequently laugh-out-loud funny belies his often truly brilliant formal intelligence. It’s rigorous, searching work. And it’s also vividly affirming—as a poet, as a reader, as a member of the human tribe. How to Communicate is a masterpiece.”—Kaveh Akbar
Where I Stand
Where I Stand: On the Signing Community and My DeafBlind ExperienceSoftcover, 128 pages. Handtype Press, $14.95.Order:http://www.handtype.com/books/whereistand/This collection of essays from one of the country’s leading voices on issues facing the signing community appears at a time of troubling trends and exciting new developments. Through his lucid and accessible prose, John Lee Clark delves into questions ranging from why hearing parents of Deaf children don’t speak ASL to how written ASL will change the course of Deaf literature. As a second-generation DeafBlind man, Clark also takes us on a tour of his experiences as a student, father, husband, and “client” of special services. Filled with startling observations and unapologetic assertions, Where I Stand challenges and broadens readers’ understanding of an important but often overlooked community.“The number of culturally Deaf and DeafBlind writers who are prepared to speak out is frighteningly small. I am delighted and proud to include John Lee Clark in this group. Even if you disagree with him, I urge you to read his book. It’s the red pill—take it. It’s worth it.” — Michele Westfall, Deaf advocacy columnist“John Lee Clark’s Where I Stand is a pointed and poignant confrontation with society's perception of ‘disability.’ In these precarious and turbulent times, his essays are bedrocks of sanity and hope.” — Christopher Jon Heuer, author of Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution