2011 Poetic Form Challenge!

I’ve been carrying around this idea in my back pocket since I started this blog with Nancy Breen. The only thing holding me back is how to best accomplish. Now that we’ve weathered a quite a few writing challenges, including form-based writing challenged, I think the time is right for this new challenge.

Between now and February 15, 2011, the challenge is to create a brand new poetic form. The winning entry will be formally introduced as a new poetic form on this blog, used as a poetic form challenge and the form will be featured (and the creator credited) in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. It’s hard to imagine a better way to introduce a new poetic form to the writing masses. Also, I’m sure I’ll be sending some other cool swag to the winning creator as well, though the immortality of creating a new poetic form should be enough motivation.

So come on, poets! Let’s roll up our poetic sleeves and start concocting new ways to poem.

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Poet must create a form that does not rely on an already established form. For instance, a poet can’t slap a haiku before a sestina and claim that this is a new form called something like hai-tina–or whatever. However, the new form could be some new variation like Robert Kelly’s lune is a new form inspired by haiku.
  2. Poet must clearly define the rules of the form. If I can’t understand the rules, then I can’t pass them on to anyone else.
  3. Poet must provide at least one sample poem written using the form. This is more for my benefit of seeing how a poem in this form might read. The better I understand the form the easier it’ll be for me to make an informed decision.
  4. Submissions should be sent to me via e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with the subject line: 2011 Poetic Form Challenge
  5. I prefer submissions in body of e-mail, but I’ll accept .doc or .txt files if needed for formatting sample poem.
  6. Deadline is February 15. If you’re worried about time zones, save yourself some stress and submit by February 14.

If I need to add any clarification, just let me know in the comments to this post.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Learn more about already established poetic forms with John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary or check out these poetic forms already highlighted on Poetic Asides.

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18 thoughts on “2011 Poetic Form Challenge!

  1. Sara McNulty

    The Two-Ten Shuffle refers to syllables in each line.
    A,D, and E must rhyme.


    She knew
    he was cheating
    every chance he got, with
    the waitress who streaked her hair blue–
    dazzling in photos she could use to sue.

  2. Michael Walker

    I created the monotetra several years ago, but I think for the purposes of this challenge it would be disqualified as it’s now known to a lot of people who enjoy writing in forms, and was outlined in my book as well. Since then the well’s been quite dry, but this may motivate me to come back to the well one more time to see if another winner pops up in the bucket. This site is great so far – I’m enjoying my perusal of it.

  3. Pkp

    Hi all … Once again Walt and I of like mind….at least conceptually…. Was thinking of a form that would simply follow the beat of children’s nursery songs….back to drawing board…. Kudos to Walt.. Fascinating challenge…
    The connection with particular songs and translating the rhythm to poetic cadence can create endless forms…not being a musician I am I’ll equipped for the task but as said enthusiastic about the natural merge of poetic form and music… Terrific…

  4. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Hey Jac,

    There is a link in red referenced above under the picture of the book; click on "these poetic forms." It’s not a complete list, but it’s quite comprehensive, and each form links to an explanation with examples.

    You can also Google "Poetic Forms" and Wiki or other sites will have everything from sonnets to bonnets to crumpetains to curleycues to tangoquatrametric fingles.

    Yeah, it’s time to hit the sack. Peace, Amy

  5. Jacqueline

    Robert, this is one challenge I’m definitely interested in.
    I, however, don’t know all the poetic forms known to man.
    Other than googling it, is there a list somewhere I can refer to?
    Please advise.


  6. Linda H.

    Okay, perhaps this is not as original as Walts but it’s all I’ve come up with so far. This form combines the tanka and the quatrain but is actually 5 lines, so it is called the Quintanka. As the tanka, it has 5 lines with the syllable count 5-7-5-7-7, and like the quintain, ines 2 and 4 must rhymes as well as line 5. It can have up to 5 stanzas but not more. Simplified:


    Line 1 – 5 syllables (A)
    Line 2 – 7 syllables (B)
    Line 3 – 5 syllables (C)
    Line 4 – 7 syllables (B)
    Line 5 – 7 syllables (B)



    She wishes she would
    not always feel out of place.
    Is she Medusa?
    All stop cold, stare at her face,
    Cringe at scars she can’t erase.

    She wishes she could
    really turn them into stone
    and chisel away,
    creating lines like her own
    on the cheeks of those unknown.

    Linda Hofke

  7. Walt Wojtanik


    Genesis is a poetic form named for the Phil Collins musical group of the same name. The form is three six line stanzas, which takes the rhyme scheme from the Genesis song, “ABACAB”. A variation is a fourteen line poem, with the repeating scheme "ABACABACABACAB".


    A clearness of mind,
    with a sense of objective,
    thoughts quite refined,
    without trepidation or fear.
    Synapses unwind
    giving you some perspective.

    Memories of pasts seem kind,
    and your viewpoint is less subjective.
    leaving doubt far behind,
    to find your purpose here.
    For fear may put you in a bind
    and your choices are less selective.

    Retain your focus, and you will find
    your decisions are quite protective,
    your rationale is sealed and signed,
    and always has your ear,
    Then your clarity becomes well defined;
    Incisive and introspective.

  8. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Oh, Robert, I cannot bear to inflict a form on you, because mine would probably involve words procured by hanging from a chandelier, or creating something from snippets of first-graders’ homework. Maybe a single word uttered by a physician… ha ha. I will check on the entries, though. This is intriguing; I simply lack the discipline and mental stick-to-it-iveness to do Rubik’s Cubes, even with words. More power to the poets who do! Peace, Amyu

  9. John

    Does the form need to be created between now and Feb 15?

    If one has already created their own form – say a year or two in the past – but its use hasn’t spread beyond their local peer critique group – is that form acceptable if it otherwise meets the qualifications?


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