Zeno is a recently invented form created by J. Patrick Lewis, and is inspired by the mathematical “hailstone sequence”. It is a 10-line verse form with a varying syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme followed here is xxxaxxaxxa, x being unrhymed lines. So, only Line 4, Line 7 and Line 10 (the one syllable lines) rhyme.
When I discovered this form I was wondering why it was named ‘Zeno’ and not simply a ‘Hailstone’. Here’s Patrick’s own explaination on this :-
“I’ve invented what I had called a “hailstone,” after the mathematical “hailstone sequence.” It has nothing to do with Mary O’Neill’s Hailstones and Halibut Bones, but it would no doubt instantly be confused with it. Hence, “hailstone” is problematic. So I call the form a “zeno,” so named for Zeno, the philosopher of paradoxes, especially the dichotomy paradox, according to which getting anywhere involves first getting half way there and then again halfway there, and so on ad infinitum. I’m dividing each line in half of the previous one.”
Read more about the Hailstorm sequence here – Collatz conjecture and the Hailstorm sequence
Here’s a Zeno I wrote :-
Sound of the sun peeping over
Her graceful smile
will you walk with
unload the gloom
And with this we have reached the end of #napowrimo2021
Here’s the link to all my prompts for this year- NaPoWriMo2021
Mondo is another short form of poetry that comes from Japan. The idea is to pose a question in the first stanza and then try to answer it in the second. A single stanza of a Mondo has 5-7-7 syllabic structure knows as a Katuata (side poem or a half poem). The Mondo is pretty similar to a Sedoka but varies in terms of the subject matter, which is nature for mondos. This form was used as a religious training method by monks in the past, written in the spirit of Zen and encapsulating an observation of natural surroundings. It was sometimes written by two different poets.
Here’s an example :-
The Sun in glory
and a shallow creek, how it
begins before it begins?
Nature finds a way
Grain by grain, the hills falter
A valley soaked in beauty
Lai is a French form of poetry with 9 lines and a strict syllabic structure. The rules of a Lai are pretty simple and stated below:-
• 9 lines with 2 rhymes.
• Structured as aabaabaab.
• Lines ending with the ‘a’ rhyme are five syllables long.
• Lines ending with the ‘b’ rhyme are two syllables long.
• a total of 36 syllables
There is no particular rule on the subject matter.
Here’s my attempt at a Lai :-
A picture so clear
with a hint of cheer
what we wish to fear
what our eyes could hear
an eternal sneer
You held moments dear,
The Kwansaba is a form of praise poetry invented by Eugene B. Redmond. This form is based on the seven day holiday of Kwanzaa and the its seven principles – unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The poetry form celebrates and praises these seven principles in African- American communities. Some of its elements of praise are derived from South African traditions.
It is a seven line poem with seven words in each line. No word in the poem exceeds the letter count of seven. There are no rhyming constraints in this form.
Here’s my attempt at one. The muse of my example is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou.
Born and raised in the Guinea Gulf
Forged in the fire of Central world
He sailed to cross the endless sea
and failed, failed till he made it
to the city of lights, under lights
The hands of steel left a mark
A golden crown rests on his waist.
Haiku is a Japanese form of Poetry which now has become widely popular, specially among the English poets. The traditional Japanese form is a 17 syllable poem which has three lines with the first and the last line each having 5 syllables and the 2nd line carrying 7 syllables.
There has been a lot of debate on whether to follow the 5-7-5 structure in English Haikus or not. There are obviously inherent differences in both the languages (Japanese and English) and hence some poets label it as a ‘traditional misunderstanding’ to carry the 5-7-5 form in English. So, may be it is better to just work with the short, concise wording and a reference to nature; the elements of a traditional Haiku. Well, since poets are the only governing bodies of their poems, we can do pretty much what we want with our poems.
I will leave an example by the greatest master of ‘Haiku’ Matsuo Bashō followed by one of my attempts.
古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音
Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto
The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.
And, here’s mine:
A candle burnt bright
vivacious night in fumes
Morning dew is served
The Golden Shovel form was created by Award winning US poet Terrance Hayes in 2010. ‘The Golden Shovel’ is actually a poem in his book Lighthead written to honour one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century and Pulitzer Prize winner, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000). Terrance’s piece was based on Gwendolyn’s ‘We Real Cool‘.
Use the links to visit both these poems and see how it works.
The golden rule for the Golden Shovel poem is – Borrow a line (or multiple lines) from a poem (or the entire poem like the example above) you admire and use each of their words as the end-words in your poem. Make sure you keep them in order and make sure you credit the poet for the orignal line(s) of the base poem. The new poem doesn’t necessarily have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
Here’s my example :-
I am using the line “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” from William Butler Yeats’, ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven‘
This pulp of desire I tread
whispers to me softly
Don’t open your eyes yet, because
this joy of cinching her, you
may never again tread.
These rainbow soaked shadows shall live on
And none shall fathom the depths of my
Flamenca (also known as Seguidilla Gitana or Sequiriya) carries a fast staccato rhythm. This spanish poetry form is a quintain (5-line stanza). There can be any number of stanzas in a Flamenca.
The syllabic structure is 6-6-5-6-6 . These syllable count per line imitate the rapid click of the heels of a flamenco dancer. Lines 2 and 5 assonate(same vowel sounds). Modern versions of this form often just simply rhyme lines two and five.
Here’s my attempt at a flamenca :-
April my dear retreat
How you enter my home
The smell of the earth
the sun, sweltering hot
fertile dreams of my loam.
Loins of a berry tree
lying on the bare sand
The harsh beauty of
a barren loneliness
taking over the land
The Echo poem or Echo verse is an interesting form of poetry. We just have to follow a simple rule that the end syllable(s) of each of the lines have to be repeated in the same line. Sometimes a near rhyme works too.
There are two ways to structure an Echo verse: Repeat the ending syllable(s) at the end of the same line or repeat the ending syllable(s) on its own line directly beneath each line. We can take a one line example for both the structures-
Do you know? No
Do you know?
Here’s my attempt at an Echo Poem (from April 2020) :-
Every inch of the hills, thrills
I walk, I cover, recover
All of me that was lost, cost
of a life so wasted, hasted.
Do you know? No
That when I open my arms, farms
that regrow the stems of my soul, whole,
talk to me with brisky breezes, appeases
in these creeky syllables of life,rife
And now I know your worth, earth.
Let us start with an Alphabet poem. The most simplest form of an Alphabet Poem is an Alphabet chart (A for Apple, B for Ball and so on). It was propbably the first poem most of us ever read 🙂
Now, there are many different ways to write an alphabet poem, except writing an Alphabet chart. Let’s discuss this.
One way to write this is a poem where the first letter of each word is a different letter of the alphabet. While doing this make sure to write out the alphabet and cross out once a letter has been used so that you can keep a tab on which letters have been used and which letters are still up for grabs.
Another way of writing this poem is doing the above in a consecutive manner through the alphabet. Here is an example :-
A beautiful cat,
Her insides jump
kind little meanderings
Nape of pride,
Spirited tail unfurled
xylographically yelping zealously.
Another method for alphabet poems is to go through the alphabet using the first letter of the first word for each line. This can be also done in a random manner or by flipping the alphabet (from Z to A).
While reading about this form of Poetry, I really felt it would be an easy task to write one of these but trust me it really tests your mind. Specially, when you get towards the end of the Alphabet. Finding words starting with X’s, Y’s and Z’s is really difficult. Have fun writing one 🙂
And if you want to check out some other form of Poetry starting with ‘A’, last year I did Anagrammatic Poetry
It is that time of the year again. April 2021 has come to our shores and it is time to pick up our pens and toil our way (or have fun) through this month.
I will be doing 26 different forms of poetry (A to Z) from April 1 to April 30. I will be extensively researching these forms of poetry and putting them out here along with my attempts at them.
Here is the schedule for NaPoWriMo 2021 ( *Updated*- Here’s the link for all these Poetry forms :- NaPoWriMo 2021 )
Apr 1 – Alphabet Poetry
Apr 2 – Barzeletta
Apr 3 – Cascade Poem
Apr 4 – Sunday
Apr 5 – Decima
Apr 6 – Echo Poem
Apr 7 – Flamenca
Apr 8 – Golden Shovel
Apr 9 – Haiku
Apr 10 – Imayo
Apr 11- Sunday
Apr 12 – John Tee Sonnet
Apr 13 – Kwansaba
Apr 14 – Lai
Apr 15 – Mondo
Apr 16 – Nonet
Apr 17 – Ottawa Rima
Apr 18 – Sunday
Apr 19 – Palindrome
Apr 20 – Quintilla
Apr 21 – Rime Couee
Apr 22 – Senryu
Apr 23 – Tautogram
Apr 24 – Ubi Sunt
Apr 25 – Sunday
Apr 26 – Villanelle
Apr 27 – Waka
Apr 28 – Xiaoshi
Apr 29 – Ya-Du Poetry
Apr 30 – Zeno
There could be a few changes in this proposed schedule (In case I am unable to write a certain form, I might switch to another)
I have already tried some of these poetry forms before. I had opted for a few of these in NaPoWriMo 2020 but I am trying to take on some new challenges as well and have some fun in the process. In my experience, learning these poetry forms and trying to write within a set of rules really challenges you and ultimately helps you improve as a writer.
*Updated*- Here’s the link for all these Poetry forms :- NaPoWriMo 2021