Boketto: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, Walter J. Wojtanik shares his relatively new form, the boketto.
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A few years back, I came across a concept called boketto. Boketto is a Japanese word that really doesn’t translate into English very well. But, the idea of boketto is akin to staring at the sky or into the distance without a thought… getting lost in one’s own self; removing the self from a place mentally. There is no regard to the past and no connection to the future. There is only THIS moment.

From this thought I’ve experimented with incorporating boketto into a poetic form and thus the boketto came to be. The boketto can be a very personal poem, or can be one of a random observation.

The boketto consists of two stanzas, one of five lines (30 syllables – 7, 7, 7, 4, 5) and a three-line stanza (17 syllables – two seven syllable lines and a three-syllable line which becomes a refrain if a string of boketto are written). Rhyme is not required and is up to the poet’s discretion. A title is also optional. The subject is strictly arbitrary: It expresses a single moment in time!

The variation of the boketto makes use of two familiar Japanese forms, the tanka and the haiku (or senryu). The moment of which you write will determine the choice (haiku – nature; senryu – everything else).

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The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

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Here are original examples of boketto:

WHITE NOISE, by Walter J. Wojtanik

The air is filled with static,
a bombardment of senses
meant to irritate; annoy.
There is no joy,
this moment must cease.

I must escape in my mind,
hoping to find inner peace.
No relief.

© Walter J Wojtanik

…and the variation…

SOLACE IN SELF, by Walter J. Wojtanik

I am imprisoned,
lost in this moment in time.
I am writing rhyme
hoping to vacate this shell
and become one with my words.

not a sound is heard
silence becomes an ally
setting the soul free

© Walter J Wojtanik

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Poetic Asides alum and contributor, Janet Rice Carnahan has embraced the Boketto form to much success. She has used it almost exclusively since its development, combining these poems with her photographs to stunning effect.

Here are two of her poetic submissions (offered with Janet’s permission):

capturing clouds on water
unites, harmonizes both
holding stillness, a moment
we are present
our breath takes it in

sweet nature puts us at ease
soft mirroring what matters
reflection

© Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

taking in the soft beauty
comes with a chill all its own
we marvel at warmth inside
so contented
clear and clean appeals

a simple stroll enhances
purified air awakens
refreshment

© Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

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