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Tinker

Crystalline

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Invented Forms

Crystalline Verse is a small poem, limited to 17 syllables, whose primary focus appears to be to match the Japanese clarity of image with the English harmony of sound. It was inspired by the Haiku and like the haiku it may be at its best when written in present tense. Any reference that can place the verse in context much like the Japanese kigo (season) or kidai (symbolic seasonal reference) is recommended.

The Crystalline employs the kireji (cutting word) of the haiku. The kireji in haiku is a word that "cuts off" one view and turns the reader to a different view. In a longer Japanese poem the kireji is 2 long lines inserted midway in the poem that change the direction of the poem not only in structure but in thought. A stand alone small poem such as the Crystalline emulates the long poem's kireji couplet long line frame and it should "cut" or turn the view from one line to the next.

Unlike haiku which observes the image with objectivity and attempts to keep the ego out of the verse, the Crystalline invites the poet's subjectivity and permits the poet's thought and feelings to be communicated through the verse.

The verse form was created by American poet Denis Garrison and more information can be found at his site, Short Verse.  

The defining features of the  Crystalline are:

  1. a complete couplet. It can be a stand alone poem or written in any number of couplets as a longer poem. Like the Renga, a longer poem of Crystalline stanzas can be written by alternating more than one poet.
  2. syllabic, 17 syllables. A regular Crystalline is 8-9 or 9-8 syllables per line. An irregular Crystalline is 2 lines totaling 17 syllables and broken where appropriate other than the 8-9/9-8 regular form.
  3. written with the English grammatical rules of syntax, caps and punctuation. In other words no all lower case, omitted punctuation, nor incomplete sentences commonly seen in English haiku. Good grammatical English applies.
  4. at the poet's discretion, written with poetic devices such as rhyme, onomatopoeia, metaphor, allusion etc.
  5. composed with a "cut" or pivot most often between L1 and L2.
  6. untitled.

    The dust of summer covers the shelf
    where in spring you last left your ring.
                                        Judi Van Gorder

Crystalline Award Winners

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