How to Write a Minimalist Poem

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Minimalist poetry tends to be accessible and concrete.

Minimalist poetry tends to focus on the sparse use of words, placing emphasis on the space between the words as well as the words themselves. Minimalist poems tend to be authentic, accessible and sometimes playful. This genre of poetry often relies less on metaphors and more on the concrete. Writing minimalist poetry is a way to express yourself artistically using few words and creative word placement.

  1. Word Choice

    • In his article Minimalism in Poetry, John Holcombe states, "minimalism may derive more from Dadaism, concrete poetry and haiku, and it certainly presents parallels to the visual arts." Some minimalist poets such as George Swede use just one or two words to create an entire poem. This makes the choice of each word extremely important. Other times, the author will use unusual word placement to make a point. One example is Adam Gamble's poem, which simply reads:


      Hold on tight to your

      This short poem demonstrates how word placement can be just as important as the words themselves.

    Disecting Language

    • If you would like to write minimalist poetry, think about language in new and creative ways. For example, some minimalist poets break apart language to create a different meaning. The minimalist poem "Antique Question," by Karl Kempton, is a good example:


      anti quest ion

      a we


    Adding Graphics

    • Often minimalist poets play with graphics. This can take the form of letters or words in different colors or words shown as mirror images of themselves. The idea is to make the reader pay closer attention to certain words. After you compose your minimalist poem, you may want to add graphics to further enhance the meaning that you are trying to convey.

    How Minimalist Can You Get

    • One of the briefest poems ever written is one composed by Aram Saroyan. It is just the capital letter "M" with an extra leg. In other words, sometimes minimalist poetry can be extremely minimal. But many other minimalist poems are more classic -- employing simple language with few adjectives.

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