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!

Leave a Reply to ben Alexander 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