Theatou’tré :

Maximizing Minimalism with the Pw(o’er)md

Jouisseance, Glass Broadside
Jouisseance, 2015. Glass, Mercury, Wood, Copper, Light, Intention.

It’s April, and time again for “International Pw(o’er)md Writing Month,” a month-long event which a widely dispersed group of poets observe by publishing one-word stand alone poems (known as “”pw(o’er)mds”) every day.

If you are reading this, you are probably participating: Hello! I’ve been waiting for you!

What is a Pw(o’er)md?

The word was coined by Geof Huth to describe any one-word stand-alone poem. The word “pwoermd” (or “pw(o’er)md,” as I like to spell it) is itself a portmanteau, a folding together of the words “poem” and “word.” The form itself goes back further than that though, to Aram Saroyan’s groundbreaking “lighght,” and Jonathan Brannen’s “pigeoneon,” and probably back further than that.

“Pwoermd’ is a tiny mouthful to pronounce, but that is not a problem, since it is not a word meant for the air. It is meant for the page, and I see it as a little visual pwoermd itself: the ‘pw’ at the front mirroring the “md at the end, and in the middle there appears that old poetic “o’er.” (Geof Huth, from “The Art of Pwoermds,” Dirt Zine, 2006)

Stephen Nelson writes:

The white space around the poem reminds me of the underlying field of consciousness on which all words and thoughts are written. It is the bliss from which experience emerges.

sassafracas, 2018. Seaglass variation, dichroic glass with shadow against gravestone marble.

For me the pw(o’er)md’s delight lies in its speed, energy and spontaneity, its ability to carry over the seed of meaning within the word, into the space of the word, into the letters themselves, where even the interstices hold the cotyledon of meaning, uncurling. It brings a heightened attention to every part of the word, its sources, its  guts, and makes the word both strange and new.

I will post my own pw(o’er)mds here and to my Facebook page as I write them, and will keep them up (until they become ungainly):