July 28: 1-3: American Sentences, sort of

A few weeks ago Angie Werren, in one of her comments, pointed me to a fascinating essay about American sentences, which she writes a lot of on her wonderful blog feathers. I don’t know if these strictly qualify, but I’ve been enjoying writing some as a break from haiku — sometimes trying to think in three carefully balanced lines is more than I can handle when my brain is especially fried. I just want some nice, normal English syntax. But, you know, poetic…or at least as close as I can get on four hours of sleep.



The birds have stopped calling warnings now that the fledglings are gone.


My sense of wonder is growing again β€” is this middle age?


Waiting for my son, I see that he’s dancing to a song I don’t know.

12 thoughts on “July 28: 1-3: American Sentences, sort of

  1. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the essay on American sentences. I’ve been struggling with a particular haiku for a few days now and all I’ve been able to say about why it’s not done is that, somehow, it’s not right. I suspect translating it into this American form might solve my problem.

    Also, I’ve been enjoying the renga from a few days back. I’ve actually gone and made myself a hard copy that I’ve read through three or four times now. Thanks.

    • Thanks so much, Max. Yeah, sometimes the ideas you have just are not haiku-y. I find even making them one-line haiku works sometimes (though the distinction between one-line haiku and American sentences can be hard to make).

      And wow, thanks for the kind words about the renga! I’m so glad it is speaking to you. Any interest in joining us for our next project? It will probably be considerably shorter than this one if the length intimidates you. πŸ™‚

  2. oh, how cool!
    I lovelove the one about your son.

    I find doing this as a (ahem) daily exercise gets my brain working. I like to write one with my morning tea or (during the school year) sitting in traffic (usually based on something I saw). I try to keep mine fairly close to observation, but that’s just me. (yes–that’s me, ripping through the glovebox looking for a scrap of paper. someday I’ll remember to stick a notebook in my bag!)

    I just scribbled this one on my grocery list at the traffic light, a few perishables ago (haven’t even posted it on my blog yet!!) —

    this backpacked man and his hungry dog sign in cardboard: need work for food

  3. Read only a few of that…but I like yours, all three, especially the second and third, Melissa πŸ™‚


  4. aloha Melissa – yeah. i think #3 really stands out, altho i like all of them. i’m really glad you posted these, because i’ve been wondering about posting my own…

    like you, i found Angie’s post intriguing – and read the AmSens review article several times and kept some points i thought were key to writing my own AmSen.

    the upside is… since July 11, (2010) i’ve been writing one a day too. as i progress i go back and rework previous AmSens – to improve them (hopefully). …which is not something i do a lot of with my haiku unless i think i’m going to really publish them somewhere… and then.. i probably shouldnt(!). so i suspect my more recent AmSens havnt been worked as much as those from a week or so ago… which brings me to my next point… i’m wondering about placing them in my blog…

    i dont think i’ve ever placed a blog post without an image. …okay other than the Ku-me area…

    so… here’s one of mine i like:

    path fluttering between houses I step into a butterfly stream

    • I like that one. Although it seems to me more like a one-line ku than an American sentence — and no I can’t define the difference, so don’t even ask. πŸ™‚

      Go ahead and put the rest on your blog, I’d love to see them. Don’t worry that they don’t have image attached. Post outside the box! πŸ™‚ (Or if it really concerns you, create a separate page for them.)

      I really don’t like most of the ones I’ve written, they tend to be overly self-indulgent — navel-gazing rather than outward-gazing. I had to comb through a whole bunch to find these three that I thought were decent. And yeah, I like the one about my son the best.

      It’s interesting, with a lot (most?) of my ku they really are imaginary — maybe loosely based on some similar experience, but transformed to create something that works better (for me anyway) artistically. With these — they are completely real, and it never occurs to me to write one that isn’t real. It would feel like cheating, I think. (Although maybe that’s why they end up feeling so self-indulgent…)

      I do still want to write more. I think they may help me to develop more of a gimlet eye. (Always been one of my ambitions, that gimlet eye.)

  5. Pingback: August 1: 1-3: Three of one « Red Dragonfly

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