scholars and rogues

VerseDay: minimalism

After last week’s fun little exchange over poetry-related topics my fellow scrogues and I agreed to make Thursdays Poetry Day here at S&R. Let me kick things off.

Since we’ve also been chatting behind the scenes about the relative wordiness of things we’ve seen and written, I’d like to make today’s subject minimalism: let’s talk about poems that don’t use many words (a tough subject for me, because I love using too many words).

Here’s one I wrote not long back, working against all my instincts:


The Wisdom of Rat

Seeker Rat climb
Trash Mountain.
Say to
Guru Rat:

my line o’ work,
got to know the man
I’m dealin’.
How I gonna know the man?

Guru Rat stare out over
Trash City.
Say to
Seeker Rat:

all there is to know
about the man
is what he throw out.


Your turn.

Categories: scholars and rogues

11 replies »

  1. I write fiction, not poetry, so I’ll quote a favorite by a proto-minimalist:

    A Man Said to the Universe

    A man said to the universe:
    “Sir I exist!”
    “However,” replied the universe,
    “The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation.”

    — Stephen Crane

  2. I was going minimalist, Sam, and when I think minimalist, Whitman isn’t always the first one who comes to mind. I actually thought of this one first:

    The Red Wheelbarrow
    by William Carlos Williams

    so much depends


    a red wheel


    glazed with rain


    beside the white


  3. One of mine:

    It has come again
    Unwanted, unlooked for, unprepared
    Am I for the
    Shock, surprise, startled
    To find these feelings
    Reawakened, returning, renewed

    With the full moon.

  4. I’m not a poet, I just fake it pretty good sometimes. That one is from back in college sometime – I wrote “Dec 4” on it, but I forgot to write down the year.

    I went through a phase in college when I wrote poetry all the time. Most of it’s pretty long and most of it was to keep me sane as I was dealing with women, college, women, working at the dining hall, and more women. I figured that if I poured my feelings out into the paper, I could make more sense of them or, barring that, at least box them up long enough to be able to do the other stuff my degree required.