WD Poetic Form Challenge: Triversen

We’re going to try and get a WD Poetic Form Challenge going leading into the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

This time around, we’ll be writing triversen, an 18-line poetic form developed by William Carlos Williams. Compared to many previous poetic forms, the triversen seems pretty “free,” but it’s not without rules. Click here to read how to write a triversen.

Once you down the rules of triversen, start writing them and sharing here on the blog for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on April 6, 2014.
  • Poets can enter as many triversens as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new triversen.
  • I will only consider triversen shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!


Workshop your poetry!

Click here to learn more.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is the author of Solving the World’s Problems, a collection of poetry from Press 53. He’s also Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he edits books (Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing), manages blogs, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, speaks on publishing and poetry nationally, leads online education, and more. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Robert is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who will be traveling out to the Austin International Poetry Festival this April. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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240 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Triversen

  1. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Body surfing
    was my sport
    for years.

    Adrift on ripples
    of waves until
    the big one came!

    Remembering my love
    of moving through
    natural ebb and flow,

    Late one July day
    heading to my favorite beach
    I took my two kids!

    Teaching them to read the waves
    and how to ride
    the best of the incoming set!

    Three of us bobbed, body surfed
    laughed, swam, sitting in the warmth
    until the sun ushered us home, happy!

  2. Jane Shlensky

    Take 2 on this one. Sorry.

    Slow Melt

    Ice rides the daffodils’ necks,
    jealous of green and gold, pushes
    purple down cold crocus throats.

    Trees and shrubs unshackling glaze
    throw crystal tubes of ice to earth,
    each lightened load a crisp “oompah!”

    A slip of sun and hours of rain
    run rivulets beneath windows
    of ice, as stubborn winter melts.

    Flocks of robins bob and slide,
    their migratory signals crossed,
    confused by skies scheduled for blue.

    Who knows why Winter bullies Spring,
    its frozen bluster rampaging
    until it’s led away in chains?

    Forsythias’ encrusted blooms
    shake off this wintry tantrum’s bling;
    they won’t be victimized. It’s spring!

  3. Jane Shlensky


    “I’d give my very life for him,”
    she said and we believed
    but felt raw fear unfurl.

    She traded bits of life for life,
    her donation one step with him
    up Golgotha.

    His organs failed on Easter eve,
    for miracles require release,
    an open hand.

    We take pains to avoid pain,
    keep death away with whip and chair
    and brace ourselves for answered prayer.

    We each kneel at Gethsemane
    upon the rocks of painful lives,
    begging another day of hurt.

    “Let go, let God,” she hears them say
    a platitude, but no relief for grief:
    forgive our unbelief.

  4. Emma Hine

    ‘Night Falls’

    A blanket of dark
    billows down,
    enveloping the Earth.

    Birds cease their song –
    their tiny beaks stilled
    until the morn.

    Sparkling stars shine,
    shimmering above,
    like tiny tears in the sky.

    The pale crescent moon,
    a curved sideways smile,
    watches the sleeping world.

    with nowhere to play,
    hide and sleep.

    The Earth is waiting
    for the new day
    and the hope it brings.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    In Defense of Night

    I side with possums and raccoons
    with owls and all nocturnal things
    who question daytime’s privilege.

    Bright flashy sun, day’s diva,
    makes showy entrances,
    her exits rose bouquets on blue.

    All animals that fear lost sight,
    all nested birds and insects rest
    at night but praise the day.

    The ancients villainized the dark
    when winds and waves joined miscreants
    to steal away security.

    Even night-howlers fear night life
    that’s destitute of neon’s glare
    or gentle shadow casters’ wick.

    Dark deeds are done by light of day
    if we but take our eyes away;
    soft night is innocent.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    Divinum Mysterium

    Sometimes a stream goes underground
    and flows into a waterbed,
    its tracks covered with prairie grass.

    Years pass as cedar saplings grow
    with briars on this patchy place
    where only dowsers sense a stream.

    Divining rods of hazel, peach,
    or willow bow where water lies,
    twitching as living nerve revives.

    Men with water wizardry
    will walk a wasteland guided by
    a slender branch of memory.

    The way the rod dips down to drink
    at what is absent makes us think
    that spirits flow beneath the soil.

    We watch as water wisdom’s tapped,
    as dowser resurrects a soul
    we felt but never saw.

  7. Marjory MT


    When night slips past its fullness,
    quietness is found
    and poems are born.

    The last low rays of light
    from the departing moon
    leave all the stars to lag.

    Each star now shines as light
    fragmented from the moon
    to aid the birth of thoughts and words.

    Words written o’er the seas of time,
    that will remain
    caressed within the shifting sand.

    Each bit of sand a thought,
    voices that all the stars will hear
    throughout the ebb and flow of life.

    The night and day, the moon and stars
    still ebb and flow a beating serenade
    as yet another poem is born.

  8. Kit Cooley


    The water stopped
    and we were left
    with dirt and grime.

    It is surprising
    how quickly we devolve
    into unwanted sloven ways.

    To shower once a week,
    at friends’ houses or at work,
    becomes routine.

    Unwashed floors and clothes,
    soon we get used to wearing
    the same jeans every day.

    Inconvenient and a burden,
    yes, but at least there is some
    clean water available.

    Each precious drop,
    hauled in from elsewhere,
    reminds us of finite resources.

    ~ Kit Cooley

  9. seingraham


    When you leave me
    I am in the shade
    becoming dark and drab

    Wondering if you will
    come back ever
    and share with me your warmth

    Let it spread throughout
    my veins, bring my heart
    alive to pulse again

    With each beat I will get to
    step a little further out
    and back into the sun.

    When you are gone
    I am but a shadow lost,
    forlorn, and only just alive

    Wondering if it is over now,
    if I am fading to naught,
    in torpor, soon to disappear.

  10. Nancy Posey

    Willing Suspension of Disbelief

    All it took
    was a big eraser
    and a Xerox machine.

    He deleted the space
    after Father: “Unknown”
    careful not to make a hole.

    With carefully honed skills
    at cut and paste
    he began deliberately.

    He had thought for weeks,
    deciding his perfect choice,
    the father he would prefer.

    Mysteries were fine in books,
    but not in real life,
    not in his real life.

    Disregarding chronology,
    embracing anachronism,
    he wrote “William Shakespeare.”

  11. Nancy Posey

    first and last

    Only in the rarest of events
    do we get only one try
    to get something right.

    We focus on first times,
    first loves, first blind leaps,
    recorded in locked diaries.

    No one gets a second first kiss
    no chance to wipe the slate clean,
    to choose another partner.

    Even the first heartbreak,
    if possible to mend,
    leaves its tiny fissures.

    But every time is a last time
    until we give it another go,
    climbing back on the bike—or horse.

    We trade the opportunity
    to try again
    for the mystery of uncertainty.

  12. Megan Easley-Walsh

    Waltz of Light and Sea

    The sea upon
    the shore awaits
    the glowing dawn.

    Beyond the scattered pebbles
    craters beckon to
    the skipping tides.

    Stillness sweeps the sands
    and gentle waves
    keep time as metronomes.

    Beaming light
    waltzes across
    the opalescent dance floor.

    Serenades of seagulls
    call out in song
    to dancing shells below.

    Euphoric notes of water
    raise their hands
    to the depths of the sky.

  13. Alfred Booth

    alone in a single armchair
    the screens blink messages
    urging me to belong

    does the truth glimmer
    while these would-be actors
    dance instead of sunlight

    inside my four windowed walls
    I am a small fragment
    uprooted from life

    unnoticed sunsets
    trail behind your shadow
    where I walk, look at me

    through dismembered branches
    don’t let me fall
    into forgetfulness

    like a tear, what love illuminates
    beyond these dark nights
    is not a trophy

    a twig

  14. seingraham


    Enter centre stage my darling;
    is there any other way,
    I think not.

    You hold us in your thrall
    with innocence blessed,
    the promise of yet to come.

    The scent of the future
    accompanies you,
    as does that of hope.

    And clutched in your tiny fist,
    you clasp our hearts
    and souls.

    Babies put paid to the notion
    of giving up, the idea
    that all is lost.

    Welcoming a newborn’s akin
    to renewing the faith,
    the dawn of a renaissance.

  15. Margie Fuston


    You don’t have to fear your drink
    when you leave it with him
    on your way to the bathroom.

    He thinks too highly of himself
    to cheat in a game
    he’s mastered with practice.

    He’ll watch it with one clear eye
    and watch a blonde with the other,
    just in case you don’t pan out.

    You should fear the honey
    dripping from his smooth lips:
    sticky sweet muddles your brain.

    In the morning you’ll wake up
    in your own twisted bed sheets,
    but you won’t remember them.

    You’ll remember your martinis tasted
    fine and you’ll wish you had
    someone to blame besides yourself.

  16. Emma Hine

    ‘Discovering Love’

    I thought I knew
    what love was
    when I met you.

    I had been in the dark
    playing games
    with love’s shadow.

    I thought I knew love
    when your arms
    wrapped around me.

    I was only dreaming
    waiting for life
    to wake me from my slumber.

    I thought I knew love
    until a new love
    opened my eyes and my heart.

    When I heard my newborn’s cry
    and felt her at my breast
    I discovered true love.

    1. Emma Hine

      I wrote this for the poem-a-day challenge today (day 5, discovery prompt) so it is also posted in the comments there. I hope that does not disqualify it from being previously unpublished.

  17. novacatmando


    We left the Finger Lakes
    and five states in-between

    to rest in the palm of the plains.

    A dry wind pushed our car
    away from tree-lined roads,

    into a gulley of a hometown.

    We always miss the deepest blue

    of Seneca when burrowed
    in tan & beige back at our house.

    My favorite summers drift
    too fast, drowning weeks into days
    counted five on one hand.

    I tried dreaming to remember
    how morning danced on Honeoye,
    or moon entranced along Hemlock.

    Five sunsets after our trip
    I no longer see or hear
    the playing across lake water.

  18. joshuapoet


    The jazzman in my head
    is in a cutting contest with himself,

    A young woman in a blue shirt with white polka dots
    sambas in her bare feet
    through the puddles left by last-night’s rain.

    When I was a child
    I threw stones at other children,
    and I am hurtling stones.

    She eats Greek yogurt with pineapple chunks,
    her mind flaps away in her joy,
    a sheet on the line.

    My father scuba dived in the Pacific Ocean,
    touched the fin of a tiger shark,
    chatted with Bing Crosby walking his dog on the beach.

    Small birds skittishly fly
    between her swift feet and their reflections,
    bathe their wings in the tiny ripples of now.

    –Joshua Michael Stewart


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