Triversen: Poetic Form

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I found references to the triversen this week in both online and print resources. It's a fun poetic form developed by William Carlos Williams (one of my favorite poets--able to write both the concise, "The Red Wheelbarrow," and the epic, Paterson). I like this form because of its flexibility.

Here are the triversen rules:

  • Each stanza equals one sentence.
  • Each sentence/stanza breaks into 3 lines (each line is a separate phrase in the sentence).
  • There is a variable foot of 2-4 beats per line.
  • The poem as a whole should add up to 18 lines (or 6 stanzas).

Here's my attempt at a triversen:

"today we buried mom"

today we buried mom
& 1,000 red-winged blackbirds
found a branch in our backyard.

the shadow of a deer
was spotted on a snowdrift,
wind sneaking into our house.

everyone knows everyone
dies & then we're faced
with how to handle the body.

in her favorite dress
we buried mom with some lilies
& a john wayne poster.

i've been trying to forget
the last time we talked
but here i am alone with you.

1,000 blackbirds hold the trees
before loosening their grip
to disappear in the sun.


Want more poetic forms?

There are two great ways to get them:

  1. Writer's Digest magazine. Get a subscription to Writer's Digest magazine to read the Poetic Asides column that covers a new poetic form in (nearly) every issue.
  2. Poet's Market. In addition to hundreds of poetry publishing opportunities and great articles on everything poetry is a piece that collects 3 dozen poetic forms.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems. Robert has loved trying out various poetic forms since his days in college--when he once wrote more than 40 sestinas during one quarter (admittedly, they were all horrible). He's partial to the French forms, but also loves the shadorma, monotetra, and pantoum. Robert is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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