One-Word Poems

As can immediately be discerned from Finlay’s letter, the rubric “one-word poem” is slightly misleading. All of the poems included in the issue featured a title, and most of the titles were longer than a single word. Following Finlay’s lead, I too consider as one-word poems not merely a single word in isolation on the page, but a single word repeated per poem or per page (or other unit of publication) that is repeated (in whole or in part) as a series. This expansive definition would include many notable concrete poems — for instance, Eugen Gomringer’s “silencio” or Finlay’s “ajar” or Mary Ellen Solt’s “Zinnia” — and my own rough estimate is that perhaps as many as 10 percent of concrete poems are primarily constructed of a single word. Saroyan, however, understood himself to be writing not as a concrete poet, but as a minimal poet… More here.


One thought on “One-Word Poems

  1. after the garden party the garden
    — Ruth Yarrow

    Also I’m reminded of Wired’s “six word sci-fi story” challenge ( )… my favorites were

    Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
    — Eileen Gunn
    Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
    — Alan Moore
    From torched skyscrapers, men grew wings.
    — Gregory Maguire
    The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
    — Orson Scott Card
    Tick tock tick tock tick tick.
    — Neal Stephenson

Leave a Reply