Four poems in Soft Cartel – shortest poems on Earth?

Very happy to say that I have four conceptual poems in Soft Cartel!

I’d love to hear what people think of these poems.

They do have a bit of a backstory. In 2017, Grievous Angel Magazine published my short, haiku-like poem about the planet Venus:

the morning star
the evening star
yellow fog on venus

This poem became part of a larger collection of short poems, one for each planet, which was published in Abyss & Apex in January 2018 as “spatial arrangement”. In addition to all the planets, I also included the moon, Pluto, and the mysterious “Planet X”. The poem for “Planet X” was pretty short:

?x

so short, in fact, that I was pretty sure it was the shortest poem ever written.

I was mistaken. Apparently, the shortest poem was by Aram Saroyan, and it’s known as the “four-legged m”:

shortest-poem

When I first found out about this poem, I was annoyed. “That’s not a poem!” I thought. “It’s not even a letter! It’s visual art!”

I was mostly annoyed that I didn’t have the shortest poem and, on further thought, I realized that “four-legged m” is (should probably be considered) a poem. The word “poem” is hard to define (if I’m being honest, I really don’t know what a poem is), but a good working definition (not without its difficulties) is this: a poem is a kind of art made by creatively combining elements of language in order to generate new or unexpected meaning. The “four-legged m” works by combining typographical elements of language to create new meaning. It is a poem.

So I decided to make some more poems. All four are shorter than the “four-legged m”. One is a single character (composed of typographical elements from two other letters), one is a single punctuation mark (composed of a typographical mark and iconography), and two of them are blank (they work by placing blankness within an interpretive context). All four are available at Soft Cartel. I’d love to know what people think!

2 thoughts on “Four poems in Soft Cartel – shortest poems on Earth?

  1. I love these! Of course, I also love Aram Saroyan’s work. Check out Rob Stuart as well. I recently read a poem called “Heroes” (translated from the French by someone or other) and it was also blank. I particularly like the semi-colon poem, which gives me a little more love for the maligned and misused punctuation. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. Thanks, John! Glad to hear you like them! And thanks for the recommendation. I will for sure check our Rob Stuart. My point with the semi-colon poem was something like, if a semi-colon connects two statements, and if a poem is a semi-colon, then what is a poem connecting? It is connecting the author and the reader. It also says something like, our existence as reader and author is as a kind of “statement”, or that our identity in the public space is a kind of literary construct -who we are, in a social space, is a thing made out of words.

      Liked by 1 person

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