Novem: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the novem, a form invented by Robin Skelton.
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Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the novem, a form invented by Robin Skelton.

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Novem Poems

The novem is a poetic form invented by Robin Skelton, author of The Shapes of Our Singing. In that book, he explains that he was inspired by the Burmese form than-bauk.

Here are the basic guidelines:

  • Tercet (or three-line stanza) form
  • Three words per line
  • Each line contains two monosyllabic words and one disyllabic word
  • The disyllabic word shifts in each line: In line 1, it's the final word; in line 2, the middle word; and in line 3, the first word
  • Each stanza should repeat one consonant sound at least 4 times

Quick note: There are no limitations on subject matter and no rhyme scheme.


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Here’s my attempt at a novem:

amuse yourself, by Robert Lee Brewer

hold hands alone
or hover with
others on hand

skip stones lonely
or only with
sisters who sing

songs will carol
you closer to
kindness and kin

make sure music
may amuse your
merry mind's band


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