WD Poetic Form Challenge: Cinquain Winner

As I was going through all the cinquain submissions, I saw a few poets muse over how I must go through all the poems. So before I share the winner of this challenge, here’s a cinquain:

How I Judge Form Challenges, by Robert Lee Brewer

Not two
by two, nor ten
at a time, I read line
by line and let each metaphor


So anyway, drum roll please…

The winner of the cinquain challenge–in a very tight race–is Jane Shlensky for her poem, “Of Use.”

There were many worthy contenders, but I loved the way Jane focused in on these hands and then slowly panned outward–revealing hands that are fragile, strong, and comforting. Incredible use of 22 syllables, for sure. Congratulations!


Since the form is shorter, I’m trying to sneak in three poems (instead of just one). We’ll see if the powers-that-be allow that to happen (fingers crossed).

Here’s the Top 10 in order:

Of Use, by Jane Shlensky

Her hands,
wrinkled, spotted
skin over twisted bones,
could wring a chicken’s neck or hold
a child.

Glass Walls, by Taylor Graham

Small boy
in waiting room
reaches toward fish tank
as golden fins beckon him to
swim free.

Ribbons, by T.S. Gregg

Bow in the breeze
Soft silken silhouettes
Fine fabrics float freely and fall
Like leaves

Malibu in Winter, by William Preston

No tans,
no bikinis,
no posing for effect;
all is quiet on the western

Cheater, by Cynthia Page

Your car
passed me one lane
over, but you told me
your flight to New York left early.
She’s blonde.

Winter in Florence, by Tracy Davidson

Cold moon,
the frost spreading
over your bare white cheeks,
no fig leaf to shield your manhood…

Twin Birth, by Alyson Ark Iott

My loves:
pale artifacts,
excavated to life
blue-lipped, cleaned and dated, nursing
on air.

Sallow, by Amy Glamos

moon, you gaze un-
changing and indifferent;
a radiant witness to dark

Ballads, by Nancy Posey

song of deceit,
murder, disembowelment.
The old-timers still call them all
love songs.

Young Love, by Sara Ramsdell

Crayola hands
and rainbow-infused reins,
they ride off into the cardboard


Congratulations to everyone in the top 10! And thank you for making these challenges so great.

I’m not sure which form we’re tackling next, but you can bet another one is around the corner. Until then, keep writing cinquains!


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing. His debut full-length poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, is due out from Press 53 on September 1 (click here to learn more). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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21 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Cinquain Winner

  1. WalterLowber5

    I would love to stop by. But, I think it might have to wait until this summer. I did not know that Serlkay had ever expanded its size. I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight! As well as this is a very refreshing site!

  2. Clae

    Congrats to Jane especially, also to William and everyone else. I’m new to this, but I’m getting to know so many through your work, and it’s great to see you on the list. Thanks so much Robert! Top ten, this just made my year! may I over-use the exclamation point, now? !!!!!!!!!

  3. dandelionwine

    Jane- your words formed a precise image reminding me of women from my past. Congratulations to you especially and to all! Happy to have been the caboose to this fine train of writers. 🙂

    And Robert- thanks for clearing up just exactly how you process our work. I still like to imagine there is some leaping involved…

  4. Jane Shlensky

    Thanks so much, friends, and thanks to Robert. I’m just as pleased as punch to be among such good writers, who are also such fun and kind people. Congrats to the top ten, some of my favorite folks around.

  5. PressOn

    When I read that cinquain, Jane, I thought, “This is it.” Utterly superb. There were so many excellent, thoughtful, full-of-images submissions, but that one, for me, stood out. Congratulations, Jane, and to all the others.

  6. PKP

    Jane – I remember this one quite well – absolutely brilliantly beautiful – Congratulations – and to the others in the top ten – HOORAY! …. lovely form and each one a delightful nugget…


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