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National Poetry Month: April 7, 2020 — Decide to Decide

April 7, 2020

Art by Daniel Arsham. Photo by Gwendolyn Alley. Willing model in Amsterdam July 29, 2019.

During days of corona possibilities, decide to decide.

April is National Poetry Month plus locked down with stay in place orders so I’m posting an American sentence or two every day along with an image that reflects the sentence and my experience during this time.

The American Sentence above was inspired by a Facebook Live with Seth Godin this morning. I took the photo when I was in Amsterdam on a long layover last summer on my way to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s Travel Tuesday and I know many of us are longing to travel and missing out on planned trips; I should be coming home from a ski trip and packing for a festival and then next week going to France and Germany. But of course none of that will happen so I need to decide to decide what to do amongst the possibilities my life presents me.

Allen Ginsberg came up with the concept — an American sentence is like a haiku in that it has 17 syllables but it’s not three lines in a stanza but one line, a sentence. As haiku seeks to offer an image that generates emotion and conveys a moment in time, the best Sentences do more than just be a sentence in 17 syllables.

I learned about American Sentences from Paul E. Nelson who I met at the Taos Poetry Circus in 2000.

According to Paul, the key to writing a good American Sentence comes from Ginsberg’s notion that poets are people who notice what they notice.

He has been writing one a day since January 1, 2001. Learn more about American Sentences and how to write good ones from Paul here.

Share your own American Sentence in the comments!

 

 

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