American Sentences

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A writing exercise (from Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius): Instead of writing a haiku (5-7-5 syllables), write a 17-syllable “American sentence” à la Allen Ginsberg. One of his (you can Google more):

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

This is a great warm-up exercise and worth the attempt. It can be quite challenging to come up with 17 syllables that say something pithy, meaningful, melodic, compelling, vivid.

My three best attempts (of many) this evening…

We worry so much what others think, we forget others worry, too.

Two octogenarians squabble over chicken and apple pie.

The orchid spray frames my penholder, a delicate shield from ink thieves.

Even if your American Sentence isn’t of Ginsbergian genius (as mine clearly are not), it may springboard you to something else. An American Sentence I wrote a couple weeks ago turned into what I consider a quite nice poem a few days later. I might need to write these more often…

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