8:43 a.m. — Atlanta
Hello, dear readers! I hope all is well and that you had a good writing weekend, or if not, a good weekend. I hope you tried the cascade form from last Tuesday, or at least played with it.
Today’s form is short. I hear the sigh of relief. And, all that is required is counting syllables and even they are not that difficult. I will give you an example of a personal cinquain, a regular cinquain, and of a cinquain stepped up a notch for those who like to wrestle with their poetry.
Because a cinquain is short it is important to keep in mind the following mantras:
AND SO, EVERY WORD IN POETRY
MUST BE THE RIGHT WORD.
A GOOD POET NEVER COMPROMISES
The cinquain has been around for centuries as a form. At its most basic it is 22 syllables. Therefore, the title of a cinquain has more importance than a title might usually have, in that it can act as a sixth line. You can write a single cinquain, or a series of closely related cinquains, in which each cinquain acts almost as a stanza for a longer poem.
The personal cinquain is the easiest as it allows you to work around the syllable count, if you wish, and focus on the number of words: 11. You may, of course, stay traditional and work with the syllable count instead: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 in which case, don’t worry about the number of words.
I. ONE word for the person—a name or another descriptor.
II. TWO words that define or describe the person.
III. THREE words that describe an event related to the person.
IV. FOUR words that express the person’s attitude toward the event.
V. ONE word that sums up or otherwise concludes the previous lines.
The example of a personal cinquain I have in my files is by James Penha:
swam far out.
Too young to die
For the regular cinquain it’s the syllable count that counts, not the number of words, and the topic can be anything. Here is an example by Adelaide Crapsey the writer who developed the modern form of the cinquain:
2 Listen …
4 With faint dry sound,
6 Like steps of passing ghosts,
8 The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
2 And fall.
For the stretchers among you, Crapsey wrote a cinquain that works well as a model. It is not a separate kind of cinquain, but her structure works well for a copy-change:
Three silent things:
The falling snow…the hour
Before the dawn…the mouth of one
To follow, come up with a topic to replace “silent things” and follow the poem’s structure. The syllables are still: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2.
three noisy things:
three yellow things:
You get the idea.
I expect to see my comments box flooded with cinquains, yes? They can be an addictive form, particularly the copy-change model, “Triad”.
If you have questions, do ask. If you think someone would enjoy this, click on the buttons below. I shall see you Thursday for more words to avoid; Friday for the week’s roundups; and next Tuesday for a non-form, simple prompt to let you relax and breathe. Happy writing everyone.