My name is Donna Williams and I am a Deaf British Sign Language poet, writer and consultant based near Bristol. DeafFirefly is a name partly inspired by a friend who answers to DeafTigerBee, and Firefly is one of my all-time favourite shows. All hail Joss Whedon. And hence, DeafFirefly was born.
I grew up in the ‘hearing’ world, attending mainstream schools, and came to the Deaf world late, when I studied at the University of Central Lancashire. Joining the student Deaf community, I quickly started learning BSL, and I had some of the best years of my life. By the time I graduated in 2006, I could sign fluently and considered myself bi-cultural, moving in both hearing and Deaf worlds. This is an outlook I still have, as I spend time in both worlds, but sometimes this is not easy, I reflect on this in some of my poems.
Always having loved science fiction, I’m deeply interested in issues concerning the future, specifically the rise of genetic research and medical technology, and how this may impact on deaf and disabled people. I achieved my MA in Ethics and Social Philosophy from Cardiff University in 2012 with a dissertation that argued that Clause 14 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (“an embryo with a known defect shall not be preferred…”) was eugenic. I hope one day to do a Phd in the area of bioethics, specifically linked to deaf issues and future technology.
As well as poetry, I’ve written short plays with Deafinitely Theatre and workshopped others with Graeae Theatre. I’ve written several pieces and poems that have been published in anthologies, such as ‘When The Dead Are Cured’ for Deaf Lit Extravaganza, edited by John Lee Clark. I also occasionally contribute pieces to the Limping Chicken, a successful deaf webzine.
I also turn up as an NDCS Deaf Role Model Presenter from time to time, and take on random projects; I was Eryr Euriad, the Golden Eagle and Queen of the Birds in ‘The Birds’ at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff in 2012, and a book for the Human Library in 2014. Lots of fun!