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Monday, July 09, 2012

Monostitch :: Poetry Prompt from Adele Kenny

A blog I often read is Adele Kenny's 'The Music In It' at because she often has 'prompts' of some interest. Right now Adele has put up Prompt #18 - a suggestion to write a monostitch poem. In our local poetry scene, I have published a few monostitch poems earlier on by the prolific poet, Kevin Gillam - unfortunately I can't remember them and don't have them at hand. Another example along these lines are the monochords of Yannis Ritsos (trans. Paul Merchant):

This being empty, filling emptiness with emptiness,
so the words can learn.

The colors, not single. Each one in relation to the rest.

Don't be afraid. Where they are going downstream
there's a river and a garden.

A jasmine petal, in a glass of water, far away where
you're taking me.

A working-class hotel. A candle on the washbasin.
And muffled cries at night.

Another of my favourites is W.S.Merwin:
"Now all my teachers are dead except silence."

But I'll get off my favourites and let Adele Kenny take over.

AK: A monostitch poem is a freestanding, one-line poem, balanced in its own time and place. Historically, the monostitch dates to ancient times (reportedly including the Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martialis, though I was unable to locate any examples). The form received attention again in late nineteenth century Russia when Valery Bryusov published this single-line poem in 1894:

О закрой свои бледные ноги.
(Oh, cover your pale legs.)

I’ve found a few “rules for monostitch poems” that may serve as guidelines for your writing this week.

A monostitch poem:
  1. should be a single line composed from 6 -12 syllables (though the syllable count is entirely flexible),
  2. should include at least one figure of speech (a metaphor, but never a simile because similes require more words), personification, or other poetic device,
  3. should not have any punctuation other than a capital letter at the beginning and terminal punctuation (period, question mark, or exclamation point) at the end,
  4. should be a complete thought and not a phrase or fragment,
  5. should express a complete idea or theme in such a way that the meaning and nuance of the poem is clear.

 Note: Monostitch titles are as important as the poems, so be sure to create a great title.


Coward by R. A. Ammons
Bravery runs in my family.

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