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Cinquain: Poetic Forms

Learn how to write a cinquain, a five-line poem with a (somewhat) fixed syllable count for each line. Inspired by the Japanese tanka, cinquain are flexible for their size.

I love playing with poetic forms, especially when the rules aren't so complicated that I have trouble keeping up with the technical issues of the poem. I can't tell you how many times I've flubbed up a sestina on the fourth or fifth stanza.

So I'm happy to share the cinquain, which is a nifty five-line poetic form from Adelaide Crapsey. Inspired by tanka, the cinquain is comprised of 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second line, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth, and 2 in the fifth. Plus, poets have the freedom to add or subtract one syllable from each line. That's a lot of freedom for such a small poem.

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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).

Click to continue.

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Here's my attempt at a cinquain:

"Calendar"

Boxes
contain the days,
but is my life really
just a graph of numbers held by
staples?

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