The monostich is a one line poem (not including the optional title). “The Cathedral is” by John Ashbery (b. 1927) was my first introduction to this poetry form. This poem-illustration pair was originally part of a longer early blog post I wrote about micropoetry (if you’d like to take that trip down memory lane, you can right here!), but I thought that it deserved some solo time in the spotlight – especially after my one word poem yesterday. Photo collage (of the Pooh Stump at Harvard) and composition by me. Have a lovely weekend!
So far, I have illustrated a number of epigrams (traditionally a two line poem with title) and one haiku (traditionally a three line poem with a set number of syllables and a title), but as a person who studies microscopic things for a living, I was curious to see how minimal poetry could go. Without further ado, I present the monostich:
“The Cathedral is” by John Ashbery (b. 1927), photographs (of the Pooh Stump at Harvard) and composition by me.
“Coward” by A.R. Ammons (1926-2001), photograph and composition by me. A monostich is a single line poem with or without a title. It is fascinating to think of what constitutes a “minimal set” of characteristics or requirements for a poem – does a single line suffice? How many words to we need? Can symbols replace words? Terry Ehret used an Egyptian hieroglyph as the title of one of her prose-poems:
Excerpt from [Papyrus] by Terry Ehret, from Lost Bodies. Here the title is replaced by a symbol and begins her prose-poem that interprets it. Can a title with a symbol be a poem?