Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 22 ~ How to Write a Cinquain Poem for “30 Poems in 30 Days” for #NationalPoetryMonth

So, today – let’s write one of my all-time favorite poetic forms ~ Cinquain ~

I love this one so much because although I have enjoyed and dabbled in poetry (some rhyming and some not) all my life, it wasn’t until I attended a poetry workshop in the 90s and was taught a few specific poetry forms, starting with cinquains, that I realized how fun following a specific poetic form (like those I have been sharing with all of you each day) can be. 

Here is the poem I created that night which pretty much started me down my current poetry path: 

Feeling secure
Where judgment has no place
Wrapped in the safety of your arms

    © 1998 Stephanie Abney

I was taught one way of doing cinquains: following a specific number of syllables per line with exact requirements – (subject, description, action, thoughts/feelings and back to subject with a different word) and thought that was it, but have since learned there’s more. In the past few years I have shared “Cinquain – pattern 1” and then the next day, “Cinquain – pattern 2,” and thought that was it, but I keep finding additional varieties so I think I’ll try to give the directions to the three most common and also a link to help you pick and choose the style you want, or better yet, try them all out. Good idea?

Cinq is French for FIVE

The DICTIONARY says a “cinquain” is a short poem consisting of five, usually unrhymed lines containing, respectively, two, four, six, eight, and two syllables.

And it also says “cinquain” is a class of poetic forms that employ a 5-line pattern.

From Cinquain: Poetic Form we read that the cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Examples of cinquains can be found in many European languages, and the origin of the form dates back to medieval French poetry.

So, basically, here is what I call Cinquain pattern 1

This short five-lined poem doesn’t have an actual title; rather, the FIRST line (two syllables in this case) becomes the title. 

It does not rhyme and in this version you count the number of SYLLABLES per line and each line has specific requirements. The first line has 2 syllables; each line increases by 2 syllables until the last line, which returns to 2 syllables.

RESIST the urge to add words - follow the pattern - you'll be surprised at your results!! 

1st line ~ two syllables – the subject (or title) or your poem

2nd line ~ four syllables that describe the title/subject

3rd line ~ six syllables that express action

4th line ~ eight syllables that express a thought or feeling

5th line ~ two syllables that show a synonym for title (restates your    subject using a different word)

Here’s a second example of that form: 


Feelings expressed
From down deep in my heart
So you know who I am I’ll sing
Word Songs

© 2011 Stephanie Abney


AND here is Cinquain pattern 2:

It has basically the same format except that instead of counting syllables per line, we are counting WORDS per line:

1st line ~ one word – the subject (or title) or your poem

2nd line ~ two words that describe the title/subject

3rd line ~ three words that express action

4th line ~ four words that express a thought or feeling

5th line ~ one word synonym for title (restates your subject using a different word)

Here's an example of this style poem:


Helping others

Let’s work together

Bearing one another’s burdens


© 2011 Stephanie Abney


Now, on to what showed up as Cinquain pattern 3

Cinquain 3 – Poem with five lines. Certain number of words per line WITH specific requirements:  

Line1: A noun (basically, THIS is your title)

Line 2: Two adjectives

Line 3: Three -ing words

Line 4: A phrase

Line 5: Another word for starting noun

Here’s an example:


Sweet, precious

Laughing, babbling, crying

If only they stayed little


© 2011 Stephanie Abney

No doubt, other variations exist – but this should do it for now on CINQUAINS!! Enjoy!

PLEASE REMEMBER ~ any poetry found on this blog, written by me, is my personal property and may not be used without my permission, other than sharing it as an example in a lesson or to read it to someone. The same goes for any poems that are shared in the comments of this blog or elsewhere online as a result of this challenge. They are the creative property of the person who writes them. These poems are their original work and no one may use them without their permission. It is understood that they own the copyright for to them as soon as they post them. Thanks so much!

Also, if you choose to post your poems on your own blog ~ that’s awesome. But PLEASE don’t just copy and paste my daily instructions, but rather post your poem on your blog or your FB wall or wherever AND LINK BACK TO THIS BLOG POST for others to come here to read the instructions. I’ve spent considerable time researching the poetry forms and writing them up to share with you. Thanks for respecting my work.


Peggy Barker said...

Kind, thoughtful, sweet
Hard working, committed
Always takes good care of his wife
My love

Vicki said...

Day 22-Cinquain poems

Love from the past
Forever in my heart
Not gone, long as I remember
Mind's eye

Next generation
Keeps us alive
We are never forgotten

Heidi Murphy said...

Here is where you'll find my offering this morning. Thanks so much for spear heading this effort, Stephanie. It's been fun!