Sunday, July 20, 2014

How dark the sky...

How dark the sky,
Bright the water
When silver fish
Reflect the moon.

Originally posted on Abbey of the Arts: Transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts on October 29, 2011

Moonlight on Yellowstone Lake (1977) by J. Schmidt


  1. Illumined darkness is a metaphor for the obscurity of the spiritual journey.

    This poem alludes to my favorite poem, Brimming Water by Tu Fu (712–770):

    Under my feet the moon
    Glides along the river.
    Near midnight, a gusty lantern
    Shines in the heart of the night.
    Along the sandbars flocks
    Of white egrets roost,
    Each one clenched like a fist.
    In the wake of my barge
    The fish leap, cut the water,
    And dive and splash.

    Source: Kenneth Roxroth, One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1971), p. 34.


  2. Photo courtesy of National Park Service


  3. What Are Minimalist Poems?
    Ann Trent, Demand Media

    Minimalist poetry refers to a poetry type or movement that doesn’t have any clear originator and is only loosely defined. Minimalist poetry was influenced by concrete poetry, Japanese haiku, and Black Mountain poetry, among others. Although this movement is not as clearly defined as some poetry movements, it does possess some specific characteristics that make it unique.

    Lack of Narrative

    Minimalist poetry does not rely on story or narrative; it is as concise as possible and seeks to convey meaning while eliminating any unnecessary words. Minimalist poems do not seek to set scenes, introduce characters, or provide descriptions of specific actions or events.

    Focus on Words

    A minimalist poem is focused specifically on words or even one word. Poets such as Aram Saroyan and Richard Kostelanetz wrote the first one-word poems of the minimalist movement in the 1960s. Aram Saroyan’s poem “lighght,” consisting of only this one word, is one of the most famous examples of one-word minimalist poetry.


    Minimalist poets provide variation and visual interest in their poems by playing with font, spaces between letters and size of letters. A famous example of this is Richard Kostelanetz’s sequence “Genesis,” in which each word represents one day of creation and is characterized by a different font type, color, and text arrangement.


    Much like concrete poetry, minimalist poetry is about visual representation. Because one- or two-word poems don’t rely simply on meaning for effect, the shape and placement of those words on the page can make a significant impact. Karl Young’s poems provide an excellent example of how important shape is for minimalist poetry.


    “MNMLST POETRY” by Bob Grumman

    Textetc: Minimalism in Poetry

    About the Author

    Trent has been publishing her writing since 2001. Her work has appeared in “Fence,” the “Black Warrior Review” and the “Denver Quarterly.” Trent received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from The Ohio State University and has attended The Macdowell Colony. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in counseling.

    Source: Ann Trent, What Are Minimalist Poems?, synonym, retrieved on July 31, 2014 from


  4. I love to write short poems. Poems occupy space, of course, and a short poem asks for so little. Yet, at the same time, it knowingly draws attention to itself thanks to its conspicuously meager presence on the page. So, there’s humility involved, sure, but audacity as well. It’s a wonderful paradox, a wonderful tension.—Mike White, Rattle #42 (Winter 2013)



    The imagist movement included English and American poets in the early twentieth century who wrote free verse and were devoted to “clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images.” A strand of modernism, imagism was officially launched in 1912 when Ezra Pound read and marked up a poem by Hilda Doolittle, signed it “H. D. Imagiste,” and sent it to Harriet Monroe at Poetry magazine.

    The movement sprang from ideas developed by T. E. Hulme, who—as early as 1908—was proposing to the Poets’ Club in London a poetry based on absolutely accurate presentation of its subject with no excess verbiage. The first tenet of the imagist manifesto was “To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.”




    I want to make
    the little white pearls of snow
    into a necklace
    for you.

    Your eyes are like a clear lake
    which reflects my life.

    Now, the sky turns into
    a girl
    wearing a skirt made of
    sunset glow.

    Tianyue Xia (age 9)


    The poems have a particular charm because the author is a child.