Soul, or: Solid

An American sentence

In warm embrace, my context dissolves. It’s thus I encounter myself.


What’s an ‘American Sentence’?

Allen Ginsberg, inventor of the American Sentence, felt that the haiku didn’t work as well in English. Ginsberg decided to remove the line structure of the haiku, maintaining the requirement of 17 syllables total. He felt that removing the line count freed the American Sentence up for the idiosyncrasies of English phonemes.

The requirements:

  1. Composed in one line;
  2. Syllabic, 17 syllables;
  3. Condensed, written with no unnecessary words or articles;
  4. Complete sentence or sentences;
  5. Includes a turn or enlightenment.

39 thoughts on “Soul, or: Solid”

  1. the in some minds unnecessary and superficial rigidity by way of translating the syllable count from Japanese into English has been criticised and argued against by many, not just Ginsberg. As much as like (some of) Ginsberg, I feel Robert Aitken in his book about Basho (Zen Wave) is an even better, more knowledgeable expert witness for the case.

      1. well you have to read the book, David. Aitken’s theme is more Basho’s existentially liberated way of being. But by way of inserting some haiku – both, if I remember correctly, translating Basho’s and some of his own or others, Aitken de facto makes a case for a more flexible approach to haiku. The basis and grounding in an image of nature is a hot dispute. Personally, my amateur view would be that the 21st century approach cannot exclude the industrialised (and worse) way of living.For some that may mean to focus on nature to get us grounded, yes, and for some other themes may be at least as important. If I see your American sentence as an experimental existential haiku, then that would be one option….

Leave a Reply to Cindy Georgakas Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s