Poetry Forms & Styles


94168I’m posting the guidelines of the poetry forms and styles currently used on this blog here, to keep individual entry-size reasonably small. I fully confess to having previously violated the rules of these poetry styles on numerous occasions, hence this page.

I credit the amazing Ms. Sharmishtha Basu for its inspiration, who convinced me of its usefulness on her blogs.

Haiku:

These are three-lined poems, tercets, usually with a syllable count of 5-7-5, though other forms with different syllable counts are possible though less well-known, such as 7-5-7. On this blog and others, I use a variety of themes with this style, which may vary from its traditional use, of poignant or fleeting observations of things in nature.

For English language Haiku as written in the West, there are a few other general rules, and I consider myself busted on these many times:

  1. 5-7-5 syllable tercet or 10-14 syllable couplet.
  2. Generally about or mentioning an aspect of nature.
  3. Uses ‘telegraphic style’ syntax. Very sparing on words.
  4. Little or no punctuation.
  5. Often juxtaposes things.
  6. Often divided into two sections, after lines 1 or 2, or with a broken layout.
  7. Impressionistic, leaves much to the imagination.
  8. No capital letters starting lines.
  9. Sparing with adjectives.
  10. No title.
  11. No abstract nouns.

Variations of English haiku:

  1. One liners (monoku) with much fewer than 17 syllables. May have a pause, or caesura.
  2. “Fixed form” John Carley’s “zip form” with two lines, 15 syllables total with double-spacing / caesura for both lines.
  3. “Fixed form” 5-3-5 syllable or 3-5-3 word haiku is known as a lune.
  4. “Cirku” Circular form haiku, with no fixed beginning or end — Perfect for Time Lords venturing into poetry.

SciFi-ku:

Sci-fi or speculative fiction-themed haiku, this style allowing for a more varied syllable count than the traditional 5-7-5 for the use of longer technical terms.

Pi-ku, or piku:

Similar to haiku, and also consisting of three lines, with a syllable count of 3-1-4, after the first three digits of the number pi. Mathematical themes are common in these, and though subject matter on this blog may vary, the form will remain. There are variants of this style as well, of syllable form 3-14-15 after the first 5 digits of Pi.

Piku Quatrain:

Four line poem, of syllable count 3-14-15-9 after the first 6 digits of pi, with a break or caesura after the first line for the decimal point. Used in the same way as a normal piku, tending toward mathematical themes, though often with a variety of subject matter.

Piku Sextet:

Six line poem of syllable count 3-1-4-1-6-9, otherwise as per piku quatrain.

Senryu:

Similar to haiku in structure, with three lines and 17 or fewer syllables, but more about human quirks, flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings. This style ranges in tone from cynical to darkly humorous.

Haynaku:

Also known as Pinoy haiku, this has three lines of six words of the form 1-2-3 and no syllable, stress, or rhyme restrictions. Reversed haynaku have a word count of 3-2-1. This style may be strung together for longer poems.

Cinqku:

This is a five-line poem with a 17 syllable count of the form 2-3-4-6-2. These are untitled, have no metrical, diction, or syntax restrictions.

Tanka:

This is a five-line or 5-unit poem of syllable form 5-7-5-7-7. For this site’s purposes, the theme will vary considerably, borrowing subject matter from other poetry styles.

Septet:

A seven-line poem, often with a variety of syllable counts, word counts, and meters. The most common kind posted on this site uses a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 word count, and no syllable, meter, or subject matter restrictions.

There are several other variations of this form:

Septilla (Spanish Septet):

At first octosyllabic, but now Tetrameter or Pentameter are permissible. Possible rhyming schemes are a, a, b, c, c, b, a, or a, b, b, a, c, c, a.

Sicilian Septet:

Formalized to Iambic Pentameter, this typically uses a rhyming scheme of a, b, a, b, a, b, a.

Rondelet:

A French form using a refrain and a pair of rhymes. Lines 1, 3, and 7 have 4 syllables, and lines 2, 4, 5, and 6 have 8 syllables, with a rhyme scheme of A, b, A, a, b, b, A, syllable count shown by the upper and lowercase letters.

Rime Royal:

Seven-line stanza with three rhymes, perhaps derived from the Ottava Rima with the removal of the fifth line, and used often in Geoffrey Chaucer’s work. Rhyme scheme is a, b, a, b, b, c, c.

13 Word Story:

Popularized, dare I say invented (?), by speculative fiction writer S.A. Barton, this form of wordplay is a complete narrative or mini-narrative in only thirteen words with no limit on syllable count, though usually using succinct and evocative wording.

Limerick:

Five-line poem, usually of syllable count 8-8-5-5-8, 34 syllables in all, with no subject matter restrictions. Often used for humorous topics, as with the work of Edward Lear.

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Ubi dubium, ibi libertas. – Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

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