Thursday, April 19, 2012

WordParty Poetry Challenge - Day 19 - American Sentences

Day 19

American Sentences
by Ingrid

“Allen Ginsberg, inspired by the traditional Japanese haiku—three lines of five, seven and five syllables—invented the “American Sentence,” one sentence of seventeen syllables…”
From Ordinary Genius: Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio

What is essential when writing haiku or American Sentences is a brief moment of sudden aliveness.  Like a photo, an American Sentence is a quick snapshot that allows the reader into the moment.

Write a series of American Sentences or Haiku after taking a walk in your neighborhood for 30 mins. What images and actions come to the surface? What can you tell the reader about your surroundings?

Here are some examples of American Sentences:

Four skinheads stand in the streetlight rain chatting under an umbrella.
—Allen Ginsberg

Rainy night on Union square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till
I’m dead.
—Allen Ginsberg

He speeds past fatal car crash site in general direction of Venus.
—Paul E Nelson

That’s not a fly on the lip of the urinal – bellybutton lint.
—Paul E Nelson

The men at the car wash dry droplets—two red towels windmill— record speed.
—Ingrid Keir

And a famous Haiku for good measure:

The old pond —

a frog jumps in,

sound of water.
Matsuo Basho translated by Robert Hass

Please email your American Sentences to