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Clayton Valli performance and analysis

 Digital Work
Identifier: ds_0027_valli_cap_01.mp4


  • Creation: 1991



Clayton Valli (NTID alumnus) and famed ASL poet created original ASL poetry works. He wrote a groundbreaking dissertation on the linguistic and literary features of ASL poetry in 1993. Valli performs seven poems twice, once before discussion of the poems with the audience, and once after the discussion. The poems are not voiced, but the discussions are. The poems are: Dandelion, Lone Sturdy Tree, Windy Bright Morning, Snowflake, Pawns, I'm Sorry, and The Cave. He describes the inspiration for his poems, and the process of creating ASL poems. Poetical and linguistic features are described such as facial expressions, hand shapes, ASL rhymes, sign inventions (neologism), metaphors, and the poem structure. His poems focus on the Deaf experience such as oppression, oralism, the freedom of ASL expression, the loneliness and hardships of the mainstreamed individual, and other related topics. Valli discusses different genres in ASL creative arts and ASL poetry expression. ASL creative arts make use of handshape repetitions, changes to reflect the deaf experience in stories (such as flashing lights), songs (audience participation, clapping, hand and palm orientation), poetry (repeated handshapes, repeated path movements and facial expression), and humor. The characteristics of ASL poetry such as rhyming and repetition patterns, classifers, transformations, marked signs, eye behavior, and the signer's location all influence the delivery of the poem. Literary features include personification, figurative language, metaphors, symbols, irony, and frames. He shares his experiences teaching art signs to Deaf children who are enthusiastic learners. Bilingual Deaf education, the importance of early ASL exposure for Deaf children, and encouraging more interactions between younger and older Deaf students will help develop stronger identities and ASL language skills.


358.41 Megabytes (mp4)


Sign Languages


General Note

This material was digitized as part of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant: "Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections at the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive (RIT/NTID DSA) in Rochester, NY." Original VHS recordings were transferred to mp4 format, captioned, and voiced, by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Production Services department.

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA