This is a guide for short (very short) poetry forms that I frequently see and like to use. I gathered the information from four sources and labeled them as such. I also included the link to the source for easy reference. Undeniably, there are many more short (very short) poetry forms and as I come across them I will include more of them in the guide.
Dedicated to –
Jules at Jules Pens Some Gems… (private site). Jules, a prolific poetess, wished upon a star for a guide to short poetry forms. Viola!
Deb at Nope, not Pam – Kudos to Deb for successfully experimenting with many and various types of poetry. Be sure to visit Deb’s site.
Colleen at Word Craft Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s site offers comprehensive information on poetry, especially syllabic poetry, among a plethora of goodies for poetry lovers – check it out.
Alphabet Haiku – Poets Collective
Modern haiku form created by Beatrice Evans, aka Ronnica at Allpoetry
It requires only strict 5 7 5 syllable construction
with all words beginning with the same letter.
There is no requirement for aha moment and punctuation and metaphor and photos are permitted.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ― T.S. Eliot
American 767 poetry form
Created by Dennis L. Dean; rules: syllable count 7,6,7 and must mention some sort of bug.
“Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.”
― Lawrence Ferlinghetti
American Sentence: Invented by Allen Ginsberg. – Poets Collective
An American haiku variation. 17 syllables written in a sentence. Any topic –
So, the qualities of such a sentence? Like most other good poetry it should be Imagistic, with that gap of meaning between the writer and the reader; ie: phenomenology. Some kind of juxtaposition helps create a tension.
“Love, the poet said, is woman’s whole existence.”
― Virginia Woolf
Brevette – Shadow Poetry
The Brevette, created by Emily Romano consists of a subject (noun), verb, and object (noun), in this exact order. The verb should show an ongoing action. This is done by spacing out the letters in the verb. There are only 3 words in the poem, giving it the title Brevette.
snail l e a k s slime
“Poetry is the shadow cast by our streetlight imaginations.”
― Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Cinquain – PoetrySoup
The modern cinquain is based on a word count of words of a certain type.
Line 1 has one word (the title).
Line 2 has two words that describe the title.
Line 3 has three words that tell the action.
Line 4 has four words that express the feeling
Line 5 has one word which recalls the title.
The traditional cinquain is based on a syllable count. Twenty-Two syllables in the following pattern (2-4-6-8-2) The traditional cinquain is based on a syllable count. It has five lines, and often, one word in the first line, two words in the second line etc.
line 1 – 2 syllables
line 2 – 4 syllables
line 3 – 6 syllables
line 4 – 8 syllables
line 5 – 2 syllables
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.” ― Kahlil Gibran
Cinqku – PoetrySoup
Cinqku: invented by Denis Garrison as a closer analogue to haiku than the American Cinquain (Adelaide Crapsey), minimizing the utility of the line break technique. Cinqku follows a strict 17 syllable count arranged in five successive lines of 2-3-4-6-2 syllables. No title is used for single verse cinqku poems which are written in haiku- style free diction and syntax with no metrical requirement; a turn is used that may be similar to kireji in haiku or cinquain. Sequence, crown, and mirror, cinqku may be titled.
“Always be a poet, even in prose.”
― Charles Baudelaire
Diamante – PoetrySoup
Diamante is a seven-line poem arranged in the shape of a diamond. The purpose is to go from the subject, at the top of the diamond, to another totally different (and sometimes opposite) subject at the bottom.
The diamond shape can be achieved by having a single word in the first and last lines, while the fourth line is the longest. This type of poem typically lacks rhyming words.
“Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”
― Robert Frost
Haiku – PoetrySoup
Decide the kind of haiku poem you want to write, and you can either go with the English 5-7-5 syllable count or even consider minimizing or maximizing the numbers.
Come up with your subject of choice; nature themes as primarily used; birds, trees, and the surrounding.
Make use of phrases that go along with images.
Use punctuation and necessary parts of speech to create a good rhythm for your poem.
“You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear thorough the search.” ― Rick Riordan
Hay(na)ku – Writer’s Digest
In a traditional Hay(na)ku, there are:
A tercet: 3 lines.
A total of 6 words: 1 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 3 in the third line.
There is no restriction on syllables or stressed or rhymes.
In the ‘reverse’ haynaku, the longest line is placed first and the shortest last. The total is still 6 words: 3 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 1 in the third line.
Multiple hay(na)ku can be chained to form a longer poem.
See the anthology for more variations.
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”
― Charles Bukowski
Kimo – Writer’s Digest
Kimo poems are an Israeli version of haiku. Apparently, there was a need for more syllables in Hebrew. That said, most of the rules are still familiar:
10 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 6 in the third.
Also, the kimo is focused on a single frozen image (kind of like a snapshot). So it’s uncommon to have any movement happening in kimo poems.
“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it”― Gustave Flaubert
Lune – Writer’s Digest
The lune is also known as the American Haiku. It was first created by the poet Robert Kelly (truly a great poet) and was a result of Kelly’s frustration with English haiku. After much experimentation, he settled on a 13-syllable, self-contained poem that has 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line and 5 syllable in the final line.
Unlike haiku, there are no other rules. No need for a cutting word. Rhymes are fine; subject matter is open. While there are less syllables to use, this form has a little more freedom.
Kelly Lune example –
trees never wander
but still spread
across open fields
There is a variant lune created by poet Jack Collom. His form is also a self-contained tercet, but his poem is word-based (not syllable-based) and has the structure of 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second line and 3 words in the final line.
As with Kelly’s lune, there are no other rules.
Collum Lune example –
An envelope labeled
loose change holds coins meant
for loose teeth.
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
― Lord Byron
Monoku – PoetrySoup
A Monoku is a type of poem which is made up of a single horizontal line. Traditionally considered as a haiku writing, it is currently accepted as a variant of the haiku form of poetry. Monoku emerged as an independent style of poetry in the 1970s.
A haiku in a single horizontal line.
Unlike the Haiku which is made up of three outlines with a total of seventeen syllables, Monoku features a single line consisting of seventeen syllables or even fewer.
It contains a pause brought about by speech rhythm with slight or no punctuation. The first letter should not be capitalized – but instead written in lower case.
“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.” ― W.H. Auden
Musette – Shadow Poetry
The Musette, created by Emily Romano is a poem that consists of three verses of three lines each. The first lines have two syllables; the second lines have four syllables, and the third lines have two syllables. The rhyme scheme is a/b/a for the first verse; c/d/c for the second verse, and e/f/e for the third verse. The title should reflect the poem’s content.
first line – 2 syllables
second line – 4 syllables
third line – 2 syllables
rhyme scheme – a/b/a c/d/c e/f/e
title reflects poems content
“Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.”
Piaku – Poets Collective
The Piaku form takes part of its name from the fact that the syllable count for each line matches the digits in Pi.
A three line poem. First line, three syllables. Second line, one syllable. Third line, four syllables.
“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” ― Robert Frost
Rhupunt – Writer’s Digest
Here are the guidelines for the rhupunt:
The form can be broken down into lines or stanzas
Each line or stanza contains 3 to 5 sections
Each section has 4 syllables
All but the final section rhyme with each other
The final section of each line or stanza rhymes with the final section of the other lines or stanzas
Each of the three words may have any number of syllables, but it is desirable that the poem have balance in the choice of these words. Unlike haiku, there are no other rules to follow.
“Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” ― Virginia Woolf
Senryu – Shadow Poetry
Senryu (also called human haiku) is an unrhymed Japanese verse consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables (5, 7, 5) or 17 syllables in all. Senryu is usually written in the present tense and only references to some aspect of human nature or emotions. They possess no references to the natural world and thus stand out from nature/seasonal haiku.
“I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.” ― Arthur Rimbaud
Than-bauk – Writer’s Digest
The than-bauk is a Burmese form with very simple rules:
- Three lines
- Four syllables per line
- The final syllable of the first line rhymes with the third syllable of the second line and second syllable of the third line.
Here’s a visual representation of rhyming and non-rhyming syllables for each line:
The poem is conventionally written as an epigram, so it’s usually a clever or witty little poem.
“Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience—every reader is a different person.” ― William Zinsser
Waka – Writer’s Digest
The waka is a Japanese 5-line poem (or stanza) that is often considered synonymous with the tanka, because both have a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable per line structure. However, the waka groups its lines together in a particular way. The first 2 lines should make up one piece, the next 2 lines should make the next, and then, the final line can stand on its own–or as part of the second group.
It’s possible to end stop after line 2, 4, and 5. But other forms of punctuation can do the trick as well.
“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” ― Jack Kerouac