Within the lines, or: Outside the box

An American sentence:

Jigsaw puzzles and painting by numbers allow artistry no room.


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!

19 thoughts on “Within the lines, or: Outside the box”

  1. As one who enjoys jigsaw puzzles, I don’t expect creativity from them, just a focused way to rest my mind. I don’t do paint-by-numbers, but I can imagine someone’s getting satisfaction from painting neatly, and again, a break from the chaos of the world. I actually think jigsaw puzzling offers a life lesson. You think you’ll never get it finished, but persevering piece by piece, you get there.

  2. love muriโ€™s contribution โ€“ every creative act is a choice what not to make or: embodiment limits your options; as for your post David โ€“ myself, I donโ€™t have the patience for eitherโ€ฆ but reading your writing, I suddenly wondered: perhaps with those techniques the art goes insideโ€ฆ

  3. Now that’s puzzling!
    My boys would spend hours โ€“ sometimes days โ€“ working on jigsaw puzzles. No school because of snow were the best times to while away the hours doing one of these mind-benders. I don’t have the patience for them; they do a number on my vision. ๐Ÿ˜ตโ€๐Ÿ’ซ

    1. I understand this perspective, Danial, but I don’t agree. Poetic forms force me to get even more creative, rather than less – because the substance that fills the form is always my own (unlike w/jigsaw puzzles and paint by numbers)

      โค
      David

      1. 17:
        This was my first thought when I chose to write an American sentence.
        18:
        I also follow formal rules sometimes, as well as stream of consciousness.
        16:
        Your response is most gratefully welcome, and your point is well made.

        Myself I incline toward tetrameter and pentameter with a mix of iambic and trochaic feet, but often I just let go and free-write anything that comes out.

        Thanks again for your superb work and open heart.

        Blessings on your house and family.

        1. Danial – you know, even when I’m using forms, sometimes I deliberately break them – but even then, it’s a decision that requires me to think about how I’m choosing to express myself! It’s not that I have to follow every form to the letter – it’s that they make me think more ๐Ÿ™‚

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