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Winner of John V. Hicks Manuscript Award, 2011

This creative nonfiction memoir explores the politics of language, whereby two languages struggled for domination in Joanne’s marriage and her family.  Although she is profoundly deaf, she spoke fluent English with her husband and daughters.  At same time, she fiercely clung to American Sign Language in order to maintain her identity.  She also became a strong advocate for Deaf education issues on a provincial and national level in Canada.


As a young mother, Joanne became an observer of the intimacy between her husband and their daughters, unable to participate because spoken English remained dominant in their home. For this reason, Joanne separated from her husband and raised her two daughters alone. 


This move ironically exacerbated the difficulty of living solely within the hearing world, especially in the professional and social arenas of Joanne’s life.  After several unsatisfying employment positions and her own admission that she still loved the father of her children, she reluctantly contacted her husband. 


The reunion renewed a nearly unbearable tension as Joanne struggled to resolve the politics of language and culture in her own home.  By keenly observing her Deaf experience,  and the experiences of her Deaf and hard of hearing students in her classroom,  drawing from her love of American Sign Language and English literature as mirrors into her own soul, she began an arduous journey toward wholeness,  toward life in a “Deaf House”.

John V. Hicks Manuscript Awards


“In the lively memoir, the narrator turns our assumptions of daily life on their head while she turns hearing loss into a unique point of view that questions and re-vitalizes the ordinary.  This gripping story reads with all the pleasures of a novel, while at the same time, it enriches our literary landscape”
Betsy Warland


“The Deaf House is a powerful story, skillfully and compellingly told, of the author’s experience as a deaf person struggling with the paradox that she fits easily into neither the Deaf nor the Hearing communities.  It is an evocative and engaging autobiography that, besides detailing the author’s own isolation,  imaginatively casts her experiences against the backdrop of other outsiders such as Jane Eyre,  Mary of Egypt,  the fox wife and St. Clare”. 
Ross King
Finalist for Saskatchewan Book Award,  2007
The Pear Orchard draws the reader into a dialogue between the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of the hearing and the deaf. Weber's troubled, sympathetic and vital voice gives us remarkable poems that bridge the silences of both worlds.

The Pear Orchard portrays the struggle of a woman to embrace her deafness. In this difficult passage the poet weaves a rich tapestry of imagery from history, visual art, lives of the saints and life on a prairie farm. Weber seamlessly draws on themes of suffering, childbirth, sexuality, rebirth, language and relationships with a poetic language that is charged with insight and spirituality. Perceptions are altered, new topographies are understood, and unheard stories are finally told through this unsettling, yet cathartic journey. This is an auspicious debut by a remarkable new voice in Canadian poetry. 

The Pear Orchard is a book of longing, a multifaceted exploration of the dialogue between the human and the divine, the ways that men and women communicate, the ways the world of the hearing collides with the world of the deaf, and how “language come[s] between us, hard as a young green pear.”


Few poets shoulder the domain of desire, the urgencies of the body, the mysteries of the spirit, with the lyrical power of Joanne Weber.  This is an ambitious and original work, full of life and feeling.  Every time you bite into a pear, and its juice runs down your chin, you will think of these poems. 


Judith Krause


The Pear Orchard is an Eden of exquisitely ephemeral yet eternal feminine language that embraces history and the present moment in its moral landscape. These poems wear wimples and rubies; they celebrate and delight in earth’s riches.  Joanne Weber mirrors sound with beauty in a singular voice.
Susan Andrews Grace
Weber celebrates love by declaring it holy....Joanne Weber is a poet to watch.  
Michael W. Higgins
...a collection that sparkles with multifaceted imagery, a skillful handling of diction and rhythm, emotional felicity and a genuine engagement with the material. The Pear Orchard is a welcome debut by a poet who has much to offer. 
Dawn Marie Kresan