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
Xiaoshi,(xiao – little/small, shi – poetry) is a genre of Chinese poetry which came into being in the 1920s from the so called “short poetry movement’. It is also known as the ‘Chinese Haiku‘. Xiaoshis are about presenting vivid yet unconnected images together. These metaphors or pictures just have to have a tiny bit of causality. This form is usually written as a quatrain.
For more on this form, read – “Japanese haiku and the formation of Chinese short poetry“
Here’s an example I wrote :-
A purple frown
Her moral jewellery under lock
The rust browned key
A gift from a past lover.
The forms of Japanese poetry most familiar to English poets are the Haiku and the Senryu, the 17-syllable poems. But these popular forms were derived from an older, but still popular poetic form, the Waka, which had been used for a thousand years before the haiku. The word waka means “Japanese poem,” and it is a form so basic to Japanese literature that it is still studied and written today.
The Waka is often considered synonymous with Tanka (another Japanese poetry form), because both follow a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable per line structure. However, some sources on the Waka suggests that it groups its lines together in a particular way and that is how it is differentiated from a Tanka. The first 3 lines should make up one piece, referred to as the upper verse, and the last 2 lines make another piece, what’s called as the lower verse. Some other sources group this poem into a 2-2-1 or a 2-3 form as well.
Here’s a poem that I wrote in NaPoWriMo 2020 and am still not sure whether to call it a waka or a tanka :-
A tinker bell
spun my beliefs out of
While I tried to drag myself
out of the plato’s cave
Ubi Sunt poems have come from the Latin phrase ‘ubi sunt’ meaning ‘where are they?’. This genre of verse is concerned with the subject matter and theme of the poem rather than the syntactic properties of a poem. The poems often revolve around passing of a person, an era, a season or basically anything held dear. So while writing an Ubi Sunt, don’t forget to add a pinch of nostalgia.
Here’s something I think I can call an Ubi Sunt poem
Like the southern breeze
You entered my life
Pinning down the doors of unexpectancy
Lighting the exhausted flames in me once
Kissing the broken chunks
Piece by piece
You put me back together
Like a jigsaw puzzle
Your smile, your laughter
Twas the sweet melody of my life
Your voice, danced in me
Like some angelic rhythm
Your eyes were the mystical art
Unfathomable, like an abstruse dream
The motion of your lips while you spoke
sparkled my mind with magic
How long has it been since I have seen you?
Been with you?
Days, months, years, centuries
have passed, haven’t they?
They do not hold significance
Time is relative in such wistful forms
I felt your spirit, your soul
Through the poetry that you spoke
Through the transcendental touch
It wasn’t all a dream, was it?
Oh! where is it all gone?
Senryu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese poetry consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Sounds a lot like haiku? Often people confuse a senryu for being a haiku. It is because senryu follows almost the same standard rules as haiku without the reference to nature.
The important thing to remember is that in case of Senryu subjects tend to be related to human nature (as opposed to just nature in case of Haikus). They covers various subjects like romance, human relationships, ironic behavior, and often end with a “knowing moment” and little spark of laughter.
The 5-7-5 syllablic structure is a mere guideline . The main goal is to capture an image or moment in a short and concise way.
Here’s my attempt at a Senryu :-
Every little fete
Another nail in the coffin
I am getting married
A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or some sequence of numbers/ characters (like a Time Stamp) which reads the same backwards as in forward, such as civic, madam, rotator.
We apply the same concept in a Palindrome poem. It is divided into two halves, with same set of words in both the halves. However the order of words in the second half must be in reverse. Note that there is a word in the middle which acts as a bridge between the two halves. Due to this structure of two halves, it is also known as ‘Mirror Poetry’
While the rules sound very simple, it is equally harder to execute them. For instance, you can’t start the poem with words like ‘A’ and ‘the’ unless you plan to end the poem with them. You will have to use short phrases with minimum use of conjuctions as you have to make sure your words make sense both in the first half and on the way back.
Here’s an Palindrome I composed during #NaPoWriMo2020 :-
Love awakens and
Metaphors of desire
Moments sweep you
Till dreams become ashes
Ashes become dreams
till you sweep moments
Desire of metaphors
and awakens love.
Ottava Rima is a poetry form of Italian origin. This form came into being around the late 13th and early 14thcentury and was developed by Tuscan poets. It was established as a form for epic and narrative verse.
In English, it was used by Lord Byron to write Beppo and Don Juan. It was also employed by contemporary poets like William Butler Yeats and Kenneth Koch
An Ottava Rima stanza has 8 lines with an abababcc rhyme scheme and is written in Iambic pentameter (10 syllables). Some sources on this form define it as a poem with 8 lines of 11 syllables each. It can work as a stand-alone poem or with multiple stanzas.
Here’s my example :-
It came to me seeking myself anew
Dear old ego writhing in agony
Probing me for some sacred darkness too
Waking up the man living inside me
She walks with me, a purpose to pursue
Carrying a list of those who wronged me
A thread, a nail, and few judgments to cast
and burn down the home that houses the past
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.