ASL Slam offers the stage to performers and audience members to come up and rap, rhapsodize and rehash in sign language.
We provide a safe space for the Sign Language community to play with our language(s).
In March of 2005, ASLian Poetry & Storytelling Night began in New York City at the famed Bowery Poetry Club hosted by Bob Arnold. Jason Norman took over as host six months later, changing the name to ASL Slam and hosting a monthly event in an open mic format with the assistance of Douglas Ridloff, an emerging poet, artist, and performer. By 2009, Douglas became the sole host, reviving the monthly open stage format at Bowery Poetry Club with the addition of featured performances by renowned Deaf and DeafBlind artists from around the world.
In 2013, the slam moved to Pioneers Bar in midtown Manhattan and additional shows were held in Boston, Denver, Washington, DC., Chicago, and Orlando. During this time, ASL Slam kicked off its first tour; visiting Austin, Boston, Michigan, France, and many other locales. In 2016, the monthly shows moved to Nuyorican Poet's Cafe in Alphabet City and in 2022, the slam returned to the Bowery Poetry Club. NYC shows are now held monthly at both venues with new host Zavier Sabio.
The ASL Slam has become a cultural brand for the Deaf poetry movement, attracting performers and audience members from all around the world. In 2019, ASL Slam incorporated into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by Douglas Ridloff and a board of directors. Today, the slam is primarily operated through venue shows in NYC and Orlando, museum events, corporate events, and educational collaborations.
The mission of the ASL Slam is to showcase and promote American Sign Language and the Deaf/signing community through performance media; offering a stage to community members to share and create traditional, contemporary and experimental sign language literature.
Douglas Ridloff, President
Julia Silvestri, Vice President
Darby Yusupov, Treasurer
Karan Danani, Board Member
Kayleigh Marshall, Board Member
Jason Quiñones, Board Member
Zavier Sabio, New York City ASL Slam Host
Kumar Singh, Orlando ASL Slam Host