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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Invented Forms

When searching for traditional forms, I have run across several invented forms that attempt to emulate or replace the Haiku. Most often they miss the mark, but some are fun to play with.

  • Cinqku is a 5 line haiku attributed to American poet Denis Garrison found at Poetry Bridge. It particularly explores the use of the line break and retains the maximum syllable count of the haiku. (Note: the haiku is a small poem of 17 syllables or less, the Cinqku is more restrictive with a strict syllable count of 17.) The Cinqku should have a turn or surprise in L4 and L5. The defining features of the Cinqku are:
    1. a pentastich, a poem in 5 lines.
    2. syllabic. A strict syllable count of 2-3-4-6-2 syllables per line.
    3. composed with a turn or surprise in L4 or L5.
    4. untitled.
      he saw
      his life flash
      before his eyes -
      her smile and waiting arms                          
      took hold
      ---Mike Monteuil
      time spins too fast.
      in stillness I reclaim
      ------ Judi Van Gorder
  • Dixdeux, French for ten-two, is illustrated by Anthony Fusco in Caulkins' Handbook on Haiku and Other Form Poems, 1970 . . . It appears to have developed as an alternative to the Haiku.  The defining features of the Dixdeux are:
    1. written in any number of tercets. When written in more than one tercet, L3 becomes a refrain.
    2. syllabic, with 10-10-2 syllables per line.
    3. is unrhymed.
    4. titled, unlike the haiku.

      Hot Topic by Judi Van Gorder

      an unopened coke sits in closed up truck
      outside the summer temperature rises
      sticky brown liquid spatters upholstery
      meticulous owner finds mess inside

  • The Haikuette is another seemingly, American answer to the haiku and was introduced by Louise Sipfle in the Caulkins Handbook and included in Berg's Pathways...The defining features of the Haikuette are:
    1. a tristich, a 3 line poem. Each line must be a separate entity, yet must contribute to the whole.
    2. syllabic, 17 syllables or less. There is no specified syllable count per line.
    3. written without verbs.
    4. unrhymed.
    5. titled.

      You by Judi Van Gorder

      fresh freckled Lily
      sweet fragrance, pink and spicy
      your face in the sun

  • The Hay(na)ku or Jánakú is an invented verse form inspired by the haiku that is measured by number of words instead of syllables. It was introduced in 2003 by Eileen Tabios, the then pulisher of Meritage Press. The name Haynaku is the Tagalog equivalent of Oh My God!  The defining features of theHay(na)ku are:
    1. a tristich, a poem written in 3 lines.
    2. measured by number of words, L1 is one word, L2 is two words and L3 is three words. There is no restriction on number of syllables in the words.
    3. unrhymed.
    4. variable, the line order can be reversed, or the form can be chained to create a series of Haynakus.
      November. . .
      golden leaves
      crunch under foot             
      ------- jvg
      Fallen . .
      from tree,
      three bones broken.         
      Canvas. . .
      paint splash
      dribbles onto page.              
      ------- jvg
      plus two
      always equals three
      --------- --Fred Johnson
  • The Kimo is an Israeli version of the haiku, found at Poetry Kaleidoscope. There should be no movement in the imagery. The defining features of the Kimo are:
    1. a tristich, a 3 line poem.
    2. syllabic 10-7-6 syllables per line.
    3. unrhymed.

      My Dog Angel by Judi Van Gorder

      Coffee grounds and egg shells on kitchen floor
      next to overturned trash pail,
      Angel sleeping nearby.

  • Lune is an American invented form in 3 lines. It provides 2 options. The lines can either be measured by syllables or words. I found this at Instant Poetry Forms  The defining features of the Lune are:
    1. a poem in 3 lines.
    2. measured either by 5-3-5 syllables per line or 5-3-5 words per line.
    3. unrhymed.

      Today I cried tears
      of regret.
      I was not enough.
      ------ ---Judi Van Gorder

  • The Quinzaine is an internet form found at Shadow Poetry and Instant Poetry for Kids, named from the French qunize (fifteen) for the 15 syllables the poem contains.  The defining features of the Quinzaine are:
    1. a tristich, a 3 line poem.
    2. syllabic, 7-5-3 syllables per line.
    3. unrhymed.
    4. composed of: L1 a statement, L2 and L3 questions related to the statement.

      Keats by Judi Van Gorder

      Poet writes in present tense.
      When is verse in time,
      is now then?

  • Tetractys is an internet form claiming to be "Britain's answer to the haiku." Ray Stebbing at Shadow Poetry. "Tetractys" is the name given by classical Greek mathematician, Euclid to his contention that the number series 1,2,3,4 has mystical significance because its sum is 10.  The defining features of the Tetractys are:
    1. a pentastich, a complete poem in a 5 lines.
    2. syllabic, with a progressive syllable count 1-2-3-4-10 per line.
    3. sometimes written as a Double Tetractys(2 quintains), when doubled the syllabic pattern is reversed, 1-2-3-4-10-10-4-3-2-1.
    4. sometimes it is stanzaic, written in any number of quintains. When
    5. written in multiple stanzas the syllabic pattern is a Mirrored Tetractys syllables per line 1-2-3-4-10 10-4-3-2-1 1-2-3-4-10 10-4-3-2-1 etc….
    6. unrhymed.

      under rated necessity of life.
                             Judi Van Gorder
  • The Trilinea, one more haiku copycat from Berg's Pathways for a Poet, created by Nellie Amos. It seems a bit superficial to me since the defining feature is the word "rose" must appear somewhere in the 3 lines.  The defining features of the Trilinea are:
    1. a tristich, a poem in 3 lines.
    2. syllabic, with syllable count per line, 4-8-4.
    3. rhymed, L1 and L3 rhyme.
    4. composed to include the word "rose".
    5. titled.
      tattoo by Judi Van Gorder
      teardrops of dew
      cling to a red velvet rose
      the touch of you
  • The Triquain, found in Berg's Pathways for the Poet 1977 appears to be an attempt at combining the haiku and Crapsey cinquain. It was created by L. Stanley Cheney and referred to in both the Caulkins' Handbook and Pathways. This form comes a little closer to the purpose of haiku than some other haiku wannabees. There is another invented form also called a Triquain that appeared on the internet about 25 years later written in a syllabic heptastich.  The defining features of the Triquain are:
    1. a tristich, a poem in 3 lines. It is composed in 3 units, L1 introduces the subject, L2 expands and leads into action, L3 is the enlightenment or question.
    2. syllabic, with 2-7-7 syllable count per line.
    3. Titled, unlike the haiku.

      stud by Judi Van Gorder

      leggy colt struggles to stand
      first of many challenges

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