Kalliope On Line Poetry Workshop Banner




Join Us





Please sign our Guestbook


Cinquains: Substituting Sentences for Syllables

Like lunes, there are two forms of cinquain: a syllable-counting form and a word-counting form. Since much confusion resulted when I described both forms of the lune at once, I described only the syllable-count cinquain in my first primer on cinquains. Now that a number of you have done the syllable-count cinquains, and critiqued them -- here's the alternatives:

Word-Pattern 1:

Line 1: one word (may be the title)
Line 2: two words (describing the title)
Line 3: three words (an action)
Line 4: four words (a feeling)
Line 5: one word (referring to the title)

And here's a second word-pattern -- don't get confused now. :)

Word-Pattern 2:

Line 1: subject word (noun)
Line 2: two descriptive words (adjectives)
Line 3: three action words (verbs)
Line 4: four-word sentence
Line 5: one word that is a synonym for the word in line 1 or one word that sums it up.

Like the lune, the word-form alternative was developed by poets working with children -- but has caught on with other poets.

So let's try it ...

EXERCISE: Word Count Cinquain

Write one or more cinquains in each of the word-count patterns.


The basic focus for critique is whether the poem fit the form. We won't have the confusion due to regional pronunciations over "is that a two-syllable word or a three-syllable word" :) but now we get to debate over "is that a verb or a noun?" With the things that corporation-speak and advertising have done to the language lately, that might generate some confusion. I am curious to find out if we can all agree on what nouns, adjectives and verbs are. :)

A good web-reference on cinquain is the AHA! Poetry Cinquain Homepage.

Write On!