The Minimalist movement began in the 1950’s and continued through to the 60’s and 70’s. Minimal art is characterized by its simplicity in both form and content, where personal expression is removed in order to achieve this. The intention of minimalist artists is to allow the audience to view a composition more intensely because the distractions of theme etc. have been removed.
Minimalists were influenced by composers John Cage and poet William Carlos Williams, and the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. They very explicitly stated that their art was not self-expression.
Literary minimalism is characterized by an economy with words and a focus on surface description. Minimalist authors eschew adverbs and prefer allowing context to dictate meaning. Readers are expected to take an active role in the creation of a story, to "choose sides" based on oblique hints and innuendo, rather than reacting to directions from the author. The characters in minimalist stories and novels tend to be unexceptional.
American poets such as William Carlos Williams, early Ezra Pound, and Robert Creeley are sometimes identified with their minimalist style. The term "minimalism" is also sometimes associated with the briefest of poetic genres, haiku, which originated in Japan but has been domesticated in English literature by poets.
In a Station of the Metro - Ezra Pound (imagist poem)
Petals on a wet, black bough.
imagist minimalist poetry
The three principles of Imagism reflect minimalist tendencies:
Superfluous words, particularly adjectives, were to be avoided, as were expressions like "dim lands of peace," which he said dulled the image by mixing the abstract with the concrete.
1. Direct treatment of the "thing" whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.
The term "minimalist" is often applied colloquially to designate anything which is spare or stripped to its essentials. It has also been used to describe the plays and novels of Samuel Beckett, the films of Robert Bresson, the stories of Raymond Carver, and even the automobile designs of Colin Chapman.
The Hero - Robert Creeley
"The Hero" is written in variable word-count" prosody; the number of words per line varies from three to seven, but the norm is four to six. Another technique to be found in this piece is variable rhyme—there is no set rhyme scheme, but some of the lines rhyme and the poem concludes with a rhymed couplet. All of the stanzas are quatrains, as in the first two:
Each voice which was asked
spoke its words, and heard
more than that, the fair question,
the onerous burden of the asking.
And so the hero, the
hero! stepped that gracefully
into his redemption, losing
or gaining life thereby.