His death, or: My life

An American Sentence:

Papa’s death led to my self-actualization as a writer.

Another American Sentence

I dare say Papa would be proud at how I’ve changed my life since he died.

A third American Sentence

I find myself writing less and less about Papa as days go by.


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!

44 thoughts on “His death, or: My life”

  1. I learned so much from your blog today! I had no idea about the history of writing poetry nor the rules of it. Thanks for sharing Ben!

    1. 💞 LaShelle 💞 ~ I’m so glad.

      BTW, please feel free to call me ‘David’. That is my first name. The word ‘ben’ simply means ‘son of’ in Hebrew, and my father’s name was ‘Alexander’. I created this blog in his memory.

      I know it is confusing because ‘Ben’ is also a name in English!

      Much love,
      David

  2. The American sentence is a new one for me. You do it well, but to me, it doesn’t have the lyrical sound of a haiku, I suppose because it lacks natural pauses that occur at the end of each line of haiku. But that’s just me.

  3. American sentences prompted by “Papa” – for which I could pinch your cheek, David. 🙂

    My birthday cards were poems my Papa penned on folded craft paper.
    Papa rose early to walk me to a grammar school for gifted kids.
    Sees his son lauded on a tabloid’s pages: Papa’s fifteen minutes.
    Papa parked his camel by the needle’s eye, left me his Parker pen.

      1. 🙂 Glad you love that one, David. It’s the same pen with which he wrote the last birthday poem I received from him. The longer I live, the more I recognize my father in myself, and smile.
        Thank you for the inspiration to start, writing,
        A Father’s Son’s Autobiography in American Sentences
        I have over a dozen, so far. Here’s a sample.
        Father made the man in my blue suit, Windsor-knot tie and tasseled shawl.

          1. As an Ashkenazi shtetl kid off the boat, my old man was as religiously Orthodox as the rabble on the dock. But when he was a suburban family man, as I first got to know him, he was religiously Conservative. No Chinese food at Seders. 🙂 And he religiously attended High Holy Days services, until he wasn’t allowed to drive his car to shul; a man who wouldn’t let anyone drive him anyplace while he could make to the garage with his walker. 🙂

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