Just(ice), or: Allen Ginsberg, Z”L

An American sentence

Dear Allen, seventeen syllables don’t suffice to do you justice.

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.

20 thoughts on “Just(ice), or: Allen Ginsberg, Z”L”

  1. Although I often write poems loosely following the haiku and tanka forms, I have found that multi-syllabic words create challenges. Not sure the “American Sentence” does it for me, but it would be helpful in solving that particular problem. Thank you for sharing this, David!

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