Lighting a fire, or: Writing

An American sentence:

On Shabbat, smokers forgo cigarettes. Would I could write poetry.

What’s an ‘American Sentence’?

Allen Ginsberg, inventor of the American Sentence, felt that the haiku didnโ€™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 “Lighting a fire, or: Writing”

  1. Can’t help but agree with Ben Harper. Writing poetry is an exploration of oneself. I just started my journey last May 2021. Still new to the game… but I’m considering of submitting a poem! Great post..!

    1. Still new to the gameโ€ฆ but Iโ€™m considering of submitting a poem!

      Hi, Eloisa! Nice to meet you ๐Ÿ™‚
      I would love it if you submit a poem of yours.

      All best,

  2. The Heart asks Pleasure first… and yet absence oft makes the heart grow all the fonder… :)) I love hearing about these traditions, and I admire them… I wonder, do you find that not writing on Sabbath recharges your poetic fire, David?

    1. Sort of… but I won’t romanticize it too much, Lia… the truth is, I’d be more than happy to sit and write poetry that day if it weren’t for my religious tradition.


          1. Aha, a confession, and the culprit-verse a beautiful example of making war with art… ;)) exemplifying the sacrosanct joy of poetry. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ‘Œ

    1. Yes. Coffee is fine ๐Ÿ™‚
      (we’re not Mormon)
      The restriction related to coffee on Shabbat would be that we can’t boil water on Shabbat. So we use hot water urns, which we turn on before Shabbat so that we can have hot water for coffee and tea.


  3. Addictions are never good… is it a sin to write the poems in your head and then record them later? What is the sin if the poem is about God? Hope you can hold out for just 26 hours!!

    1. ๐Ÿ’š Muri ๐Ÿ’š – no, I can write poetry in my head. the prohibitions that relate to poetry are writing, erasing, and using electrical devices (computer)…

      Also, I’m not sure I could handle 26 hours. Thank goodness Shabbat is only 25! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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