White Space Poetry Project

Same Page. Same Stage.

An award-winning film, poetry anthology, and community celebrating collaborations between hearing and deaf artists around the world.



Within the mainstream art world there is a thriving community that most do not acknowledge or realize even exists: a rich diversity of work from deaf artists.  Bridging that gap is the long awaited release of the award-winning short film, White Space, starring Ryan Lane (ABC Family Switched at Birth, Veronica Mars) written and directed by Maya Washington, “Best Short” winner at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (among other awards) and the White Space Poetry Anthology featuring the work of deaf and hearing poets of White Space Poetry Project.

"We believe that deaf and hearing artists can commingle on the page as well as the stage and big screen," says Washington.  Talented poets and artists of White Space Poetry Anthology and anthology editor/ film director and actor Maya Washington will be on hand for a night of poetry, music, and film hosted by White Space Poetry Project at Intermedia Arts (2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408). Admission is free (donations appreciated). Contact creative@whitespacepoetryproject.com to RSVP for press attendance.

Twin Cities stage actor/musician T. Mychael Rambo will host the evening as Emcee with “Best of the Twin Cities” band Herschel & The Detainees providing musical entertainment. The event will include ASL interpretation by Erin Gardner & Jonathan Roberts of readings by Raymond Luczak (How to Kill Poetry, Road Work Ahead, Silence is a Four-letter Word: On Art & Deafness), Su Smallen (Minnesota Book Award Finalist for Buddha Proof, Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award Nominee for Weight of Light), Khary Jackson (Any Psalm You Want, Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Residency, Winner of the National Poetry Slam, Cave Canem Fellowship), Sandy Beach (Minnesota Women Poets, Water~Stone Review, What Light Poetry Project), and Haley Lasché (Not a Muse, Poemeleon, Dossier Journal) with writer/director and actor Maya Washington (Winner ‘Best Short’ Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, Co-Kisser Poetry Film Festival & Hollywood Black Film Festival, Cave Canem Fellowship), anthology poet Kimberly Eridon, and anthology photographers Meghan Maloney-Vinz (Managing Editor Water~Stone Review, Broadcraft Press) and Ed Bock (Ed Bock Editions).

Press RSVP to creative@whitespacepoetryproject.com
Website: www.whitespacepoetryproject.com




Now Available Online for Free Viewing

There is a thriving arts community just outside the mainstream that most do not acknowledge or realize even exists. When an amazing creative project like White Space emerges, it becomes apparent that modern cinema is missing out on a rich diversity of work from the Deaf Arts Community.  Bridging that gap is a newly released award-winning short film, now available online for viewing after three years on the international festival circuit.

 White Space (2011) is the directorial film debut of playwright, poet, and actress Maya Washington. The concept, about a performance poet tumultuously walking through the streets of Los Angeles on his way to an open-mic performance, came to Washington quite literally one night in a dream. The next morning, she scribbled the narrative of that dream on paper with the climax—as The Poet finally arrives just before show’s end, instead of performing with his voice, he presents a poem in Sign Language.   Washington also co-stars as The Poet’s girlfriend Shayna.  Soon after White Space principal photography ended, lead actor Ryan Lane, who stars as “The Poet,” was cast as Travis on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, and has become a deaf heartthrob among the show’s young fans.

“We all know there’s not a lot of roles for deaf actors or performers. We are a part of society that gets overlooked in Hollywood.  People like Maya and projects like White Space and Switched at Birth help us get noticed and create more awareness of Deaf Culture,” signed Ryan Lane at the film’s release celebration on August 30th, the exact three-year anniversary of the film’s production shoot. Lane, Washington, cast members (including deaf comedian CJ Jones), and members of White Space Poetry Project, came together for an afternoon of live ASL poetry, spoken word, literary poetry, and music, hosted by Boardwalk 11 in Los Angeles with floral design by the world-renowned French Florist.

 Also in attendance were Switched at Birth cast members BK Cannon (Switched at Birth), Stephanie Nogueras (Switched at Birth), Tina Huang (Rizzoli & Isles, Switched at Birth), and Matthew Kane (Once Upon a Time, Switched at Birth). Actor/writer Blake Cooper Griffin (Ride, It Could Be Worse), Delena Cortez, PR Director of Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), and Marc Bovee, Founder and Chairman of Global Event & Media Accessibility Initiative (GEMAI), were also on hand along with a number of White Space Poetry Project supporters. YouTube “Signalong” sensations Tina Cleveland and Paul Sirimarco also made an appearance on the red carpet.

 White Space has been an ‘Official Selection’ of over 26 international film festivals to date and won ‘Best Short’ at The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and the Hollywood Black Film Festival among other awards and nominations. Additionally, Washington edited the White Space Poetry Anthology, a poetry collection featuring the work of award-winning and new deaf and hearing artists, available through the project website and Amazon, that serves as a companion collection to the film.


White Space Poetry Project is the brainchild of Creative Director Maya Washington, born in response to the lack of images of deaf artists, specifically poets, within the mainstream world of film and literary arts. Historically, deaf artist’s voices have been absent from larger mainstream conversations within the worlds of independent film and poetry. The White Space Poetry Project, is a three part creative venture: (1) White Space an award winning short film, starring Ryan Lane, (2) White Space Poetry Anthology featuring the work of deaf and hearing poets, and (3) poetry workshops, screenings, and events that honor the work of deaf and hearing artists throughout the world.

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Same Page | Same Stage Star-studded Live Poetry Performance & Screening


Within the mainstream art world there exists a thriving community that most do not acknowledge or realize even exists.  Should they fully open their eyes, they will realize they are missing out on a rich diversity of work from deaf artists.  Bridging that gap is the long awaited release of the award-winning short film, White Space, starring Ryan Lane (ABC Family Switched at Birth, Veronica Mars) written and directed by Maya Washington, screening internationally at film festivals, within both hearing and deaf communities and the White Space Poetry Anthology featuring the work of deaf and hearing poets of White Space Poetry Project.

"We believe that deaf and hearing artists can commingle on the page as well as the stage and big screen," says Washington. The talented cast of the film and White Space Poetry Anthology poets will be on hand to perform and mingle with fans at the red carpet event hosted by White Space Poetry Project and Boardwalk 11 (10433 National Blvd. Los Angeles, CA) Saturday August 30th, 2014 with a private red carpet reception at 2pm and live public performance and screening at 3pm. Contact creative@whitespacepoetryproject.com to RSVP for talent/press attendance.

Notable talents in the Deaf Community include actor Ryan Lane (Switched at Birth, Veronica Mars) actor/comedian CJ Jones (See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary, Lincoln Heights, Cold Case) and actress/poet Zendrea Mitchell (2010 DEAFestival LA Award Winner); Poets Tanya Alexander (Tomb Raider, Material Girls) and Ant Black (Top Ten and Top Twenty at the National Poetry Slam) with writer/director Maya Washington (Black Reel Award Nominee, ‘Best Short’ Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival & Hollywood Black Film Festival). Accomplished stage actor Lester Purry (Othello, Two Trains Running) will host the evening as MC with award-winning members of the spoken word, literary, and performance communities in Los Angeles including poet Ashaki. M Jackson (VONA, Cave Canem, WriteGirl).

 Red Carpet/Press RSVP to creative@whitespacepoetryproject.com

Website: www.whitespacepoetryproject.com

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Summer Brings Great News

The Spring brought more international debuts and partnerships with K-12 schools and colleges to bring the magic of White Space Poetry Project to more audiences.  We are excited to welcome our supporters to our new internet home and the glorious new developments ahead.

In August we will release our long awaited poetry collection, White Space Poetry Anthology, and hope to make our film, White Space, available worldwide soon.

The anthology brings the unique commitment to challenging the mainstream approach to collaborations between deaf and hearing artists by including the work of award-winning talent from around the world along side new poets from diverse backgrounds.  When we began our journey four years ago, we moved forward on the belief that cross-cultural collaborations were possible.  It's exciting to share our progress and the revelation that the work continues as hearing communities, especially those in the arts, become more aware of deaf artists and their contributions to poetry, art and film.


International Screenings in the Deaf Community Continue for "White Space"

White Space will have its Italian Premiere at


Rome International Film Festival on December 1, 2013. CINEDEAF aims to enhance and showcase films of deaf national and international directors, and films of hearing directors having deafness, deaf culture and sign language as main themes.

Most recently, White Space traveled to Berlin, Germany and screened at Pillsbury House Theater's Late Nite Series in Minneapolis, MN. Community screenings and events continue as the White Space Poetry Project organization continues to touch lives stateside and abroad. The much anticipated release of the White Space Poetry Anthology is set for late December or early January, 2014.

In addition to starting the New Year with the release of the Anthology, White Space will have it's Hong Kong Premiere at the

Hong Kong International Deaf Festival

in February, 2014.  Production is proud of the way the short film has been embraced by the international community both deaf and hearing.  It is our mission to bring individuals and audiences together in the spirit of poetry and art!

Spring and Summer News

The movement that is White Space Poetry Project has been moving so quickly, it's hard to keep up!  The Spring and Summer brought residencies, workshops, festivals and private screenings throughout the US and even a trip to Toronto Canada.

Maya Washington
with workshop participants

This Spring the Young Authors Conference hosted Creative Director Maya Washington who presented Small Packages: Short Films and Plays.  Students screened White Space and worked on drafting their own original concepts for short films and plays.  The work continues to inspire youth to learn more about poetry, film, and ASL.

Additionally, White Space screened at private events  throughout the summer including Jacamo Magazine's I am Freedom Open Mic along side a special performance from Kendrick Dial of Lyrical Groove and performance art from Creative Director Maya Washington.  The film also screened privately at the Cave Canem Fellows Retreat in Pittsburgh, PA in June.

The White Space short film made it's Canadian debut at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews as well as Chicago's Indie Boots Festival and Seattle's Langston Hughes African America Film Festival in May.  White Space was recently featured in reviews by the Dreher Report as well as Insight News.

The festival journey continues this fall with a German Premiere at Gebärdensprachfilmwoche 2013 in Berlin, Germany September 25th-28th, 2013 during deaf week.  2013 marks an exciting international push for the short film and additional global screenings in the near future.

White Space Official Selection of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival April 15th

White Space is gearing up for a return to Seattle, the hometown of  the film's editor, Brett W. Bachman, as an Official Selection of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival Monday April 15th at 9pm in the Shorts Program.  Tickets are available online through the festival.

The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival is a program of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle, WA. The Festival is run by a core of committed community volunteers under the direction of Jacqueline Moscou, Langston Hughes’ Artistic Director. The annual event is actually the culmination of a year’s worth of community collateral-building through a series of smaller events designed to provide audiences with unique cinematic and filmmaking opportunities that result in an annual community-wide film festival held at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.

White Space Star Ryan Lane on ALL ASL Episode of Switched at Birth on ABC Family Monday, March 4th 8/7pm Central

Ryan Lane has been busy since he took on the role of  The Poet in White Space.  Shortly after shooting the award-winning short film, Ryan was cast as the angst ridden heart-throb Travis on ABC Family's Switched at Birth.  What started as a few guest spots has turned into a steady gig for the talented actor.  He's become a fan favorite and will appear in the much anticipated "All ASL" episode of the popular ABC Family show.
In an ALL NEW episode of ABC Family's award-winning original series Switched at Birth, told entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), the students at Carlton School for the Deaf protest to keep their school open, based on real life events of the "Deaf President Now" protest held 25 years ago on the campus of Gallaudet University. The ground-breaking episode, a first for a scripted series on mainstream television, will air Monday, March 4 at 8/7c. The special episode, will be told from the perspective of the series' multiple deaf characters -- with open captions for hearing viewers.
The ambitious episode marks an important milestone in mainstream television and the exposure of ASL as a vibrant aspect of deaf culture in the United States. Through the 2013 Deaf Outreach Campaign, White Space Poetry Project will continue to illuminate mainstream images of ASL and deaf culture in television, film and literature. 
Audiences can tune into ABC Family's Switched at Birth, Monday, March 4th at 8/7c.


How to Kill Poetry: New Collection from White Space Poetry Anthology Poet Raymond Luczak

RAYMOND LUCZAK (pronounced as written but with a silent "c") is perhaps best known for his books, films, and plays.

Raymond was raised in Ironwood, a small mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Number seven in a family of nine children, he lost much of his hearing due to double pneumonia at the age of seven months.

His forthcoming collection, How to Kill Poetry, will be released through Sibling Rivalry Press March 12, 2013.  In a recent review by Polar Magazine, writer Walter Beck praises the collection, "This book is simply astounding, there is nothing like it out there today... Even if you're not a big poetry reader, pick this one up, it's so surreal in its execution that it will leave you thirsting for more." 

With the ghosts of Emily Dickinson, Arthur Rimbaud, Sappho, and Walt Whitman leading the way, How to Kill Poetry showcases a highly selective overview of Western civilization poetic development from its oral traditions to the silence of pixels.  The narrative then jumps 200 years into the future where the unfortunate consequences of global warming creat a dramatic backrop against which poetry (if it is to have any redeeming value) must survive.

Luczak has literally traversed the white space between the hearing and deaf worlds through performance, film and literary work on the page throughout his prolific career which is highlighted on his website, www.raymondluczak.com .

After his high school graduation, Luczak went on to Gallaudet University, in Washington, DC, where he earned a B.A. in English, graduating magna cum laude. He learned American Sign Language (ASL) and became involved with the deaf community, and won numerous scholarships in recognition of his writing, including the Ritz-Paris Hemingway Scholarship. He took various writing courses at other schools in the area, which culminated in winning a place in the Jenny McKean Moore Fiction Workshop at the George Washington University.In 1988, he moved to New York City.

In short order, his play Snooty won first place in the New York Deaf Theater’s 1990 Samuel Edwards Deaf Playwrights Competition, and his essay "Notes of a Deaf Gay Writer" won acceptance as a cover story for Christopher Street magazine. Soon after Alyson Publications asked him to edit Eyes of Desire: A Deaf Gay & Lesbian Reader, which, after its appearance in June 1993, eventually won two Lambda Literary Award nominations (Best Lesbian and Gay Anthology, and Best Small Press Book). In January 1996, Deaf Life Press brought out his first book of poems, St. Michael's Fall. In July 2002, the Tactile Mind Press brought out two of his new books: Silence is a Four-Letter Word: On Art & Deafness and This Way to the Acorns: Poems. His play, Snooty: A Comedy, was published as a book by the Tactile Mind Press in February 2004. His first novel Men with Their Hands won a first-prize award from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation for Full-Length Fiction 2003 in the spring of 2004. The book has gone on to win first place in the Project: QueerLit 2006 Contest; Rebel Satori Press published it as part of their Queer Mojo imprint in November 2009.

A Midsummer Night's Press brought out his third collection of poems Mute in February 2010. Hot Off The published a very limited edition (10 copies only!) of his 12th title Notes of a Deaf Gay Writer: 20 Years Later; it is now available as an ebook for the iPad and the Kindle. Sibling Rivalry Press brought out his fourth poetry collection Road Work Ahead in March 2011.

His work has appeared in various anthologies and periodicals, and will be included in the forthcoming White Space Poetry Anthology. 

Outreach in the Deaf Community Campaign

White Space Writer/Director/Actress Maya Washington,
Actor CJ Jones, Interpreter Lisa Arroyos,
 Actress/Poet Tanya Alexander at
Hollywood Black Film Festival
Throughout the past year, White Space has made its way around the United States and remote parts of the world as far away as Budapest. Although the film has appeared in two deaf film festivals (Seattle Deaf Film Festival and Maine Deaf Film Festival) and one disability festival (Cinema Touching Disability Festival), 2013 will be focused on reaching deaf audiences with the work that has opened the eyes of many of in the hearing world.

The biggest challenge for White Space on the festival circuit is that most "mainstream" festivals do not present captioned versions of the films presented.  As a result, attendance by deaf or hard of hearing patrons at mainstream festivals is nearly non-existent.

Whenever possible, White Space Poetry Project curates screenings and other events to include American Sign Language interpreters, deaf actors, poets and community partners in the deaf community.  2013 presents a great opportunity to do even more.

Maya Washington and Lisa Arroyos

With the help of community partners, friends and others like Youth Performance Company, VSA Minnesota, Sign World TV and Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, White Space Poetry Project will continue to provide accessible low to no-cost screenings of White Space, panel discussions, poetry performances and writing workshops for youth and adults. The push will involve outreach efforts in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, DC.

Poetry Workshop Students

Hundreds of hearing students have engaged with the work of White Space Poetry Project throughout 2012.  Through the 2013 Deaf Outreach Campaign, the focus will shift to creating opportunities for hearing and deaf students, teaching artists and poets to work with both hearing and deaf audiences in addition to continued collaborations between deaf and hearing poets as well as "mainstream" educational environments.

White Space Poetry Project has created a unique experience for all who have come into contact with the magic of White Space and the idea that creative opportunity exists between the hearing world and the deaf world.  Creating bridges and common ground between hearing and deaf culture can be challenging for those on both sides of the equation, yet the rewards are great and the White Space that connects us all.

If you are interested in supporting the work of White Space Poetry Project in 2013, consider a tax-deductible gift to our annual giving campaign today!

Khary Jackson and Jonathan Roberts
at Loft Literary Center


White Space in the Winner's Circle

Hollywood Black Film Festival, White Space
Shon Fuller and Maya Washington at HBFF Closing Night
White Space screened at Co- Kisser Poetry Film Festival on October 6th, 2012 at Minnesota College of Art and Design and Hollywood Black Film Festival at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood on
October 27, 2012 

White Space took home three awards between the two festivals including "Best Short" at Hollywood Black Film Festival, "Best in Category," and "Best of the Fest" at Co-Kisser Poetry Film Festival.

White Space supporters came out in Los Angeles and Minneapolis in support of the audience favorite. White Space Poetry Project members and White Space cast were in attendance at the Hollywood screening. CJ Jones, Zendrea Mitchell, Tanya Alexander, Shon Fuller and interpreter Lisa Arroyos shined in Hollywood at the after party at the St. Felix.  MSU Hall of Famer, and retired NFL running back  Clint Jones (Vikings, Chargers) and family were also in attendance.

White Space singer/songwriter Herschel and the Detainees performed Herschel's poem, "Wednesday Love," the inspiration for the ASL poem, "White Space" from the film, after the screening at Co-Kisser to rave reviews. Also in attendance at Co-Kisser were White Space Poetry Anthology poets and artists Sandy Beach and Meghan Maloney-Vinz.

Herschel, White Space Poetry Project
Herschel & the Detainees at MCAD

White Space in Wichita October 19th and 20th

White Space will screen Friday October 19th at 3:30pm and Saturday October 20th at 5pm in the Dramatic Shorts Program at Rock Island Studios during the Tallgrass Film Festival this weekend!

Tickets are available at the festival box office

From Tallgrass Film Festival:

“In a world overrun by film festivals, Tallgrass remains a largely undiscovered gem. The festival is big enough and smart enough to curate a top-notch program, but modest enough to nurture an atmosphere in which filmmakers mingle with each other and audience members.”
  -Geoff Edgers, producer/star of Do It Again and Boston Globe Arts Reporter

The 10th Annual Tallgrass Film Festival will be held in and around downtown Wichita, Kansas, October 18 - 21, 2012. The festival showcases more than 120 films from around the world and is the largest independent film festival in the state of Kansas. The four-day event has become a hallmark of the city's cultural landscape and the festival is internationally renowned for its world-class cinematic programming.

September Outreach and Screenings

Ryan Lane and Maya Washington
 with CSUSB students
White Space Poetry Project was busy throughout the month of September starting with a private screening at California State University San Bernardino for student leaders during the CSUSB Club Conference on September 10th, 2012. Following an address by CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales, White Space Writer/Director and WSPP Creative Director Maya Washington motivated students with a keynote "How to Make a Dream a Reality" followed by a Q &A with Washington and White Space star and ABC Family's Switched at Birth actor Ryan Lane.

Kyla Marshall, Jonterri Gadson,
Maya Washington,
T'ai Freedom Ford, Shelby Stokes

The New York Premiere of White Space occurred at Urbanworld Film Festival September 22nd, 2012 which garnered a spotlight piece on Indiewire's Shadow and Act. White Space screened along side some amazing short films including award winners Ralph Scott's touching Barbasol and Jesse Atlas' suspense driven Record/Play.   Cave Canem poets T'ai Freedom Ford, Michelle Whitaker, Jonterri Gadson, Shelby Stokes, Kyla Marshall, L. Lamar Wilson and Juliet P. Howard attended the White Space screenings along with White Space Poetry Project friends and supporters.

Maya Washington
During Social Media Week, Creative Director Maya Washington participated in a panel discussion sponsored by California Youth Connection at W Hollywood on September 26th, 2012.  The panelists discussed how their organizations are using social media to connect with and empower youth.

Principal Photography Anniversary

Celebrate this amazing milestone with us at White Space Poetry Project.  It's been a year full of triumphs, new friends and festivals.  We have been overwhelmed by the response we've received at screenings throughout the country and even remote parts of the world!

Please continue to follow our progress and the exciting news that continues to unfold!

Enjoy this special message we've created for you, our devoted supporters!  We couldn't have done this without you!

Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival

White Space will screen at the 2012 Run & Shoot Filmworks Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival on Tuesday August 7, 2011 in the Shorts Program beginning at 1:30pm in the MV Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available directly through the festival.

mvflogosmall Established in 2000, Run&Shoot Filmworks is a national transmedia company that creates innovative content across all forms of media, including television, digital, feature films, music programming, commercials,events, and original photography. The brainchild of Director, Producer, and Cinematographer Floyd A. B. Rance III, our sole objective is to continue to create aggressive innovative content…Commercials, Music Videos, Films.

In 2002, RSF established the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival which was designed to provide an upscale platform dedicated to showcasing and honoring emerging filmmakers in a relaxed environment. Now in it’s 10th year, the Run&Shoot Filmwork’s MVAAFF is an emerging, sophisticated event on the radar of many entertainment executives and industry tastemakers.


White Space Wins Indie Soul Special Recognition Award at 2012 Boston International Film Festival

The White Space Production Team received notification that White Space was awarded the Indie Soul Special Recognition Award at the 2012 Boston International Film Festival on April 22, 2012.  The Boston International Film Festival was created to celebrate the art of filmmaking and to honor the filmmakers who make it all possible.  This is a festival dedicated to rewarding artists for their individual talents and for their creative expression through the medium of film. 

The festival strives to bring together in Boston local, national and international filmmakers by promoting the world's most artistic and creative independent and experimental films.   The festival's goal is to encourage and support the work of worldwide independent filmmakers and to promote their products as an art concept and as a valuable contribution to world understanding.


White Space Screening at Northern Spark Festival

HomeJust weeks after winning Best Short Film at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, White Space will make another stop in Minneapolis during the Northern Spark Festival on Saturday June 9th at Saint Anthony Main Theatre with two screenings (8:58pm, 10:45pm) in a Shorts Program sponsored by the Film Society of Minneapolis/ St. Paul. 

"Northern Spark is an active celebration of the creativity of artists and the creative programming of cultural organizations. Last year, during the night of June 4, 2011, there were 50,000 visits to 100 projects by more than 200 artists in collaboration with 60 cultural organizations and sponsors at 34 venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Northern Spark was a one-night creative explosion.

For us, Northern Spark is about transformation. It is about seeing the Twin Cities in a new light. It�s about making the place where you live a place you want to be, not where you return after being inspired somewhere else. It is about the dynamic intersection of art and science and technology and engineering and design and urban planning and nature and culture. It is about the power of artists to make us think and wonder." (Northern Spark)


If you live in the Twin Cities, you won't want to miss this Minneapolis screening!

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