Gogyohka: Poetic Form

If only a poetic form existed that could be both concise and free. Oh wait a second, there’s gogyohka!

Gogyohka was a form developed by Enta Kusakabe in Japan and translates literally to “five-line poem.” An off-shoot of the tanka form, the gogyohka has very simple rules: The poem is comprised of five lines with one phrase per line. That’s it.


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What constitutes a phrase in gogyohka?

From the examples I’ve seen of the form, the definition of phrase is in the eye of the beholder. A compound or complex sentence is probably too long, but I’ve seen phrases as short as one word and others more than five words.

So it’s a little loose, which is kind of the theory behind gogyohka. It’s meant to be concise (five lines) but free (variable line length with each phrase). No special seasonal or cutting words. No subject matter constraints. Just five lines of poetic phrases.

Here’s my attempt at a Gogyohka:


Ghosts hang
from the willow
as the children run
from one door
to the next.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53).

He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He is building a haunted house in his two-car garage with the assistance of his little poets, who are also spooky little creatives when it comes to Halloween decorating.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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66 thoughts on “Gogyohka: Poetic Form

  1. AvatarSara McNulty

    Come in out of the rain
    Warm and cozy fire
    A snifter of Brandy
    Cheese and fruit
    Let nature take its course


    You wore blue
    The Germans wore gray
    In the pouring rain
    At the train station
    You never showed


    Spider wove a web
    Fly caught in trap
    His life flashed before him
    He is set free
    April Fool’s!

    Wild Turkey
    Jack Daniels
    Jim Beam
    Five card stud
    And then there were four
    South of the border
    She beckoned
    Come a little closer
    Whispers of a jealous boyfriend
    He wakes with black eye

  2. AvatarWalt Wojtanik


    Morning climbs over the horizon
    clutching to the treetops until noon takes hold.
    Late afternoon stands tall, as cold shadows creep
    deep into the evening, leaving traces in silhouette.
    Night gets to rest, it’s best for an early climb.

  3. AvatarWalt Wojtanik


    She steps out of the shadows
    words become the voice she had hidden
    filled with emotion and passion they cover her
    life’s lover exposed for what she is
    one Good woman with a loving heart and caring soul!

  4. AvatarTomNeal

    Blurred Lines Rephrased

    We hold these truths to be self-evident,
    that all men are created equal,
    that they are endowed by their Creator
    with certain unalienable Rights,
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

        1. AvatarTomNeal

          It is a postmodern response to the prompt, the form (gogyohka), the historical process, the content, and Robin Thicke. In this case pomo is meant to be playful.

          A longer explanatory note is still awaiting moderation.

    1. Avatardrnurit

      I love the name and the underlying message. Poetry is affected by life, but life (including political thought) is also affectd by poetry. This cyclical pattern fascinates me.

  5. Avatargrcran

    autumn in texas

    foliage so green even now
    here in the southland
    soon, with chlorophyll changes
    glowing red and gold and orange
    on my eighty-foot oak tree

    by gpr crane


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