Aram Saroyan and the Art of the One-Word Poem
“In actuality the single word is another understanding interaction; like power — moment and ceaseless.”
“lighght” may resemble a fitting grammatical error, yet the sonnet was not the aftereffect of a mishap. Picture: Detail of Aram Saroyan’s “lighght,” 1965.
By: Paul Stephens
A truly wonderful sonnet has a limitlessly little jargon.
Jack Spicer, “Second letter to Federico García Lorca”
Writing in 1961, at the establishing of the Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) development, Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais, two of France’s most huge after war scholarly experimentalists, pondered to each other “what a limited number of words can make a sonnet?”
As indicated by Le Lionnais, this inquiry would engross the two until Queneau’s passing 15 years after the fact. Indeed, even in 1976, they questioned that a sonnet could be developed from less than a few words. Maybe in light of the fact that their experiences were not principally in test verse or after war workmanship (Le Lionnais was a mathematician and Queneau fundamentally a manager and author), the two strangely disregarded solid verse, a type of visual verse that utilizes the plan of words to pass on importance. The two additionally appeared to be uninformed of crafted by Aram Saroyan, whose mid-1960s sonnets investigated and broke the cutoff points proposed by Queneau and Le Lionnais.
This article is adjusted from Paul Stephens’ book “nonappearance of messiness: negligible composition as craftsmanship and writing.”
In spite of the fact that the Oulipo’s originators may have been underinformed about solid verse, their distrust is telling: Setting aside solid verse during the 1950s, it was not until the 1960s with the contemporaneous development of pop workmanship, moderation, and reasonable craftsmanship that a solitary word or letter could be perceived as a sonnet.
The single word sonnet may indeed have quickly arrived at the tallness of its ubiquity in late 1967 with the last issue of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s diary Poor. Old. Tired. Pony. In July of that year, Finlay kept in touch with Saroyan — at that point just 24, however a main expert of the structure — that he planned to assemble a whole issue of P.O.T.H. dedicated to single word sonnets:
the thought being that the sonnet comprises of single word and a title. These are to be considered as 2 straight lines, which make a corner (the sonnets will have structure); while the Catch 22 of these corners is, that they are open every which way. This is on the grounds that we can’t have entire world sonnets (we haven’t got one), and yet we ought not lose faith in regards to something with corners, for example, making them, and opening them up.
As can promptly be observed from Finlay’s letter, the rubric “single word sonnet” is marginally deceptive. The entirety of the sonnets remembered for the issue highlighted a title, and the greater part of the titles were longer than a solitary word. Taking cues from Finlay, I also consider as single word sonnets not only a solitary word in separation on the page, however a solitary word rehashed per sonnet or per page (or other unit of distribution) that is rehashed (in entire or to some extent) as an arrangement. This extensive definition would incorporate numerous eminent solid sonnets — for example, Eugen Gomringer’s “silencio” or Finlay’s “unlatched” or Mary Ellen Solt’s “Zinnia” — and my own unpleasant gauge is that maybe however numerous as 10% of solid sonnets seem to be principally built of a solitary word. Saroyan, be that as it may, comprehended himself to compose not as a solid artist, but rather as an insignificant writer.
Maybe the best impact on Saroyan’s insignificant sonnets was Louis Zukofsky, to whom Saroyan had been presented by another solid impact, Robert Creeley, in 1964. Creeley’s sonnets likewise turned out to be more insignificant in the last part of the 1960s, however never so negligible as a solitary word or a solitary word rehashed. Zukofsky gave the epigraph to Saroyan’s diary Lines, and he may have halfway propelled Saroyan’s “lighght,” just as his “crickets/crickets/crickets . . .” Saroyan composed three unmistakably unique cricket sonnets, two of which were recorded for LP.
The segment rendition of “crickets” would proceed to turn into a mark sonnet of Saroyan’s, as proven by a 1968 Paris Review promotion that discovered Saroyan at the pinnacle of his acclaim. The segment of “crickets” (like “not a cricket”) ought to be tuned in to be valued completely. In the 1967 account, the single word is rehashed by Saroyan for 80 seconds, and it inspires that of which it talks by likeness in sound.
The segment adaptation of Saroyan’s “crickets” would proceed to turn into a mark sonnet of Saroyan’s, as proven by this 1968 Paris Review notice that discovered Saroyan at the pinnacle of his distinction.
As per the writer, the sonnet “was written in the spring of 1965 of every an apartment complex on East 45th in New York City, demonstrating that crickets are amazing animals, fit for infiltrating New York City itself.” Interestingly, Saroyan rehashes “crickets” around 33 times each moment — not far-removed from the 30 peeps each moment delivered by the North American field cricket. (The speed at which a cricket tweets is controlled by species and temperature — it is even conceivable, adhering to Dolbear’s Law, to decide the temperature outside by tallying the recurrence of cricket trills.)
The sonnet may well have been impacted by a sonnet from Zukofsky’s “All,” first distributed in 1965. Zukofsky’s sonnet — a simple 19 words in 16 lines — starts with “Crickets’/shrubberies” and closures with “are crickets’/air.” Saroyan indeed visited Zukofsky with Clark Coolidge in New York City not long after the segment of crickets had been distributed in Lines six in November 1966, he advises me: “Louis referenced the sonnet immediately, saying something like ‘Okay, yet what might be said about’ and here he exchanged into resonant recitation — ‘crickets’/bushes/light, please.’ He didn’t go on long yet it was clear I had gone excessively far for his preferences.”
Saroyan’s detachment of the single word had incredible impacts: It denarrativized and decontextualized language, and it set the word in obvious alleviation.
Saroyan’s other two contemporaneous cricket sonnets play on the sonic and visual properties of the word otherly. Likewise a solitary segment, “crickets/crickess/cricksss . . .” eliminates one letter from the word for eight lines and afterward re-adds a letter for each line. “Cricket” vanishes and returns outwardly among the extra s’s. Saroyan’s “not a cricket,” on the other hand, plays with a sonic and semantic paralipsis:
Despite the fact that it was not composed explicitly for The Dial-a-Poem Poets, that recording is pivotal to understanding the sonnet. Saroyan peruses the sonnet gradually as though it were a radio or phone declaration of the time, and “ticks a/clock” sounds a lot of like “six o’clock” (maybe concerning the notorious tolls of Big Ben that have been communicated overall every day by the BBC at six o’clock since 1924). Despite the fact that “ticks a” half-rhymes with “cricket,” it isn’t a similar word, as in different “crickets” sonnets. Also, the sonnet plays a stunt like Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une line” or George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant”— it adversely summons something, as though to propose a cricket doesn’t make a sound like a clock. Or then again maybe there is a quiet so profound that lone a clock can be heard.
“crickets” and “not a cricket” can be conveniently contrasted with another contemporaneous sonnet by Saroyan: just “tick” fixated on two confronting pages. Like the crickets sonnets, it is onomatopoeic, and truth be told may sound more like a clock than the regular English “tick-tock” or the French “spasm tac” (the Italian sweets, presented in 1969, is said to have taken its name from the sound of the confections shaking in their compartment). A clock doesn’t have two sounds that substitute each other second; it has one.
Aram Saroyan – Crickets
Saroyan’s single word sonnet “crickets” inspires that of which it talks by likeness in sound.
“Tick” in this setting will carry a clock to mind for most perusers, yet here again the absence of setting could be interesting. Tick as a thing would recommend two bugs. Or on the other hand it may propose another significance of “tick” as an action word, for example, to tick something off elite. Saroyan’s utilization of the confronting pages is brilliant, notwithstanding, and demonstrates the tick as a unit of time, albeit the sonnet (as Saroyan recommended was his expectation with the negligible sonnets) may not include any durational understanding cycle, as one may see the two ticks stereoscopically without a moment’s delay. The sonnet initially showed up in the exploratory artistic magazine 0 To 9 and would not have been conceivable to remember for Saroyan’s three fundamental books of insignificant verse, as these all had sonnets imprinted on the right-hand pages as it were. Saroyan’s detachment of the single word had incredible impacts: It denarrativized and decontextualized language, and it put the word, commonly a thing, in obvious help. In a letter which went with the sonnet, Saroyan kept in touch with craftsman Vito Acconci in September 1967 that
I’ve found that everything work I can manage now is to gather single words that end up striking me and to type every one out in the focal point of a page. The single word isn’t “mine” however the single word in the focal point of the page is. Electric sonnets I call them (in the event that anybody begins tossing Concrete at me)— implying that separated of the understanding interaction—or that cycle delivered by the confinement moment—each single word is structure as “moment, concurrent, and different” as power as well as the Present. Basically the single word is another understanding interaction; like power—moment and consistent.
Saroyan’s form of insignificant composing invigorated Vito Acconci to turn the other way, toward a maximal style that in like manner can introduce outrageous challenges of understanding. Acconci’s late-60s wri