Imayo: Poetic Forms

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For this Poetic Form Friday, let's play with the imayo!

Imayo Poems

The imayo is a 4-line Japanese poem that has 12 syllables in each line. If a 12-syllable line sounds unique for a Japanese poetic form, don't fret. There is a planned caesura (or pause) between the first 7 syllables and the final 5. The 5/7 syllable splits are the familiar patterns found in other Japanese forms like haiku, tanka, and senryu.

The imayo was originally written to be sung, but that's not a requirement. Also, poets have free range on subject matter.

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Master Poetic Forms!

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This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

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Here’s my attempt at an Imayo:

Run, by Robert Lee Brewer

Her feet flow along the path - deer watch from the trees
Hair pulled in a pony tail - birds fly over head
Her eyes on the horizon - fish swim in the creek
Her mind replaying the past - a tree falls silent

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Here is the same poem with the lines broken at the caesura:

Run, by Robert Lee Brewer

her feet flow along the path
deer watch from the trees
hair pulled in a pony tail
birds fly over head
her eyes on the horizon
fish swim in the creek
her mind replaying the past
a tree falls silent

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He's really enjoying these Poetic Form Fridays. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.