Arts·Q with Tom Power

Raymond Antrobus recalls how his dad gave him 'a door into language' with poetry

The poet joins Q's Tom Power to discuss his second spoken word album, An Investigator (of Missing Sounds).

Antrobus talks to Q's Tom Power about his new spoken word album, An Investigator (of Missing Sounds)

Head shot of Raymond Antrobus standing outside in front of some trees.
Raymond Antrobus is a British poet, educator and writer. (Suki Dhanda)

Raymond Antrobus wasn't diagnosed as deaf until he was about seven years old.

His family thought he had learning difficulties or that he might be dyslexic, but when his mom bought a new landline phone, she noticed he was the only one in the house who didn't react when it rang.

"When I was growing up, I was late to learn how to speak and learn how to write, learn how to walk, talk," the award-winning poet tells Q's Tom Power.

"My parents didn't know I was deaf. When they figured it out, I had to do speech therapy and this other thing called hearing therapy and I was given hearing aids. But my dad did this thing — on my arm, I've got a tattoo of a tape — he would record many dub poets reciting poems on the tape, and he would play them to me and he would ask me to recite them. The way that I look at that now is it is a kind of a exercise into language, you know, a door into language."

Ever since that point, writing poetry has been a way for Antrobus to reflect on his life, including his lived experience of being deaf. 

Antrobus first talked to Power around the time his debut spoken word album, The First Time I Wore Hearing Aids, was released last year. Now, he's back with a new poetry album, An Investigator (of Missing Sounds), which finds him reflecting on his deafness, but also on his family and their impact on his life.

The full interview with Raymond Antrobus is available on our podcast, Q with Tom Power. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Interview with Raymond Antrobus produced by Ben Edwards.