Percentage, or: Interest

An American sentence:

What percentage of words in any given sentence convey meaning?


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.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

22 thoughts on “Percentage, or: Interest”

  1. I believe that every word that doesn’t serve a purpose detracts. David, you are a master of the economy of words and your poems are rich in humor and meaning. ❀

    I know that articles such as "a" and "the" can often be eliminated but are sometimes used to preserve meter or syllable count. The sounds and meanings of words are the main reasons for word choice. Precise word choice enhances brevity. I guess that sums up the basics. Beyond that, I don't know how you do it, David! Maybe you could give us some helpful hints…:)

  2. I love that sign. A perfect accompaniment to your sentence. And now I’m humming The Beatles (why don’t you do it in the road?) But of course these days, everyone will be watching. (K)

  3. Every single one. But the author has no control over those meanings. I believe there are 6 versions of every thing said – what you said, what you meant to say, what you mean, the words heard, what the words meant to the hearer, and what was understood… Communication is very messy. No wonder we are always at odds!

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