Written, or: Spoken word

An American sentence:

Penned words welcome endless revisions but rebuff regrets once spoken.

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!

17 thoughts on “Written, or: Spoken word”

  1. Great… but do I have to change my personal way of seeing something as poetry?
    Is it prose? Is it a clever remark?

    1. Syl, I don’t quite understand the question you’re asking… Why would you have to change your personal way of seeing something as poetry? Did you feel that I was suggesting so?


  2. You know, Bub, of all the “forms” I consider [pardon, it’s not personal] contrived, this “American sentence sticks in my crop most. This one, however, is brilliant. Not for the form. but for the message, which I’ve bandied-about more than once in “Calipers” and “Loose Change.” Swell job, indeed, swell job.

    1. โค Espie โค ~ a few thoughts:

      1) It's my honor that despite your general feelings towards forms of poetry, you still visit my blog!

      2) From my perspective, American Sentences are no more arbitrary than the haiku they were born from – just reflective of a different culture and language.

      3) To a great extent, I agree with you regarding the arbitrariness of forms, but I don't dismiss them because great poets employed them, and they are considered great for a reason… so I choose to explore forms.

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