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Poetry Magnum Opus

Shairi -Swahili


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Explore the Craft of Writing
African Verse

The Shairi of Swahili origin is an obscure (at least to Westerners) form of stanzaic verse which is a "popular verse form for short themes of topical interest". NPEOPP It is chanted at the great national dances of Mombasi, celebrations of New Year, weddings and is associated with traditional gunga dance. Although the NPEOPP describes the form as a quatrain without meter or rhyme, thanks to Bob Newman's connections at Vol Central, meter and rhyme appear to be part of equation.

Of course this form should not be confused with either the better known Georgian Shairi or the even more obscure Urdu Shairi. It seems "shairi" is a popular word in international verse, I wonder if they are connected somehow way back with beginning of language?

The elements of the Swahili Shairi are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
  2. syllabic, 8 syllable lines.
  3. mono rhymed from stanza to stanza. This should be not hard to do in Swahili since according to Newman's footnotes all words in Swahili end in vowels and there are only 5 vowels so chances are just about anything one writes in Swahili is going to have some rhyme.

African Poetic Genres and Forms

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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