ASL Poetry

In American Sign Language there are four main types of poetry,

  • ABC Stories

An ABC story tells a story around a topic or event using the handshapes of the fingerspelled alphabet. The signer must go through the alphabet either A-Z or Z-A and use each handshape once to tell a story. The story would start with a sign that uses the “A” handshape, then a sign that has the “B” handshape would follow, then “C” and so forth until a sign with a “Z” handshape was used. The signer can choose to go through the alphabet as many times as they want. Below is an example of an ABC story:

  • Handshape Stories

A Handshape story is when a certain handshape is used in a pattern or repetition throughout a story being told. An example could be the handshape for the number 5, this handshape would reoccur in the piece as a rhyme, alliteration, or any form of pattern.

  • Number Stories

Number stories are very similar to ABC stories except instead of going through the handshapes for the fingerspelled alphabet the story goes through number handshapes. The story will go through the handshapes of 1 -10. The fist sign will have the hand shape of the number 1, the next sign will have the handshape of the number 2, until the story finishes with a sign that uses the handshape of number 10.

  • Classifier Stories

A Classifier story is a story in which the signer will use mainly classifiers to tell a story. While a few signs are allowed, the signer will almost entirely rely on classifier handshapes and moves, as well as their facial expressions to tell a story. The story can be as long as the signer chooses and can repeat classifier handshapes.