Allen Ginsberg, the Beat poet
best known for his masterpiece “Howl”, also lives on through a lesser known legacy: the American Sentence! Believing that the structure of the Japanese haiku didn’t suit the English language, Ginsberg invented a new form, borrowing the number of syllables from the haiku (17), but combining the lines into one sentence, rather than the 5-7-5 three-line structure.
Here are a couple of Ginsberg’s most famous American Sentences:
- Put on my tie in a taxi, short of breath, rushing to meditate.
- Bearded robots drink from Uranium coffee cups on Saturn's ring.
Give it a go, dear poets! Write your own American Sentences, composed of exactly 17 syllables. And one more tip: If you study Ginsberg’s work, you’ll be pressed to find many "a’s," "an’s", "the’s", etc.… So take some inspiration from Ginsberg—the master of condensing—and save yourself a syllable or two by trimming the fat. As you craft your sentences, double and triple check each word, doing away with any that are not needed.