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Not So Common Forms of Poetry and Their Examples

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Rham is a vegan who dabbles in writing fiction and poems. She co-founded Penmancy, a writing platform for amateur poets/fiction writers.


What is Poetry

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an English poet, literary critic, philosopher and theologian, described poetry as "the best words in the best order".

Of all the definitions I have read, Coleridge's makes perfect sense to me because, for me, poetry is choosing appropriate words and using them to show and express images, thoughts and feelings to the readers in the most apt manner. And while I understand why some would claim that they do not understand poetry or that they need to read a poem repeatedly to "get" the meaning behind it, I believe that some poems need not be analyzed for their meanings but to be appreciated for the language use, rhythm and melody.

In one article, a commenter named Elisa Herderson defined poetry as passion, purpose and pleasure positively positioned to please the poet and no other particular person. And I think she has a point.

Since poetry, and other forms of literatures, is purely subjective, I don't think there is one true definition for poetry. What the poet intend to convey while writing the poem may be interpreted differently by readers. And these interpretations are as valid as anyone's.

Not So Common Forms of Poetry

1. The Shadorma

Alleged to have originated in Spain, the shadorma is a six-line (sestet) nonrhyming, syllabic poem. This form follows the 3-5-3-3-7-5 syllable count per stanza and may consist of one or an unlimited number of stanzas.

My example:

Filled with grief
Her tears have gone dry
The sadness
In her eyes
No one sees, not one bothers
Till death claims her life.

2. Janaku [pronounced as hay (na) ku]

Invented by Eileen Tabios, a Filipina poet, Janaku is a tercet (a 3-line verse) comprised of one, two, and three-word lines that do not rhyme. This form was inaugurated on June 12, 2003, during the anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence Day. Janaku became so popular that it is now used by poets all over the world.

The number of stanzas is up to the poet's discretion.

My examples:


slit his
throat without remorse

partake his
flesh with joy

you feel
guilty at all?


The wild
Cries; hear it.

3. Diamante

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Diamante texts, when centred, form the shape of a diamond. This is how it is written:
Line 1: subject (noun)
Line 2: Two Adjectives (describing the above subject)
Line 3: Three gerunds ('ing words that are related to the subject in line one)
Line 4: Four words about the subject (first 2 words relate to the subject above and the other 2 relate to the subject below)
Line 5: Three gerunds ('ing words that are related to the noun below)
Line 6: Two adjectives (describing the subject in line seven)
Line 7: subject (noun)

~Gerunds are verbs that function as nouns. Ex. Thinking, swimming, dancing, watching, etc.
~The subjects or noun used can be synonyms or are opposite words. In my example, I used two opposite nouns.

My example:

~as you can see the form looks like a diamond~

~as you can see the form looks like a diamond~

4. Pensee

Pensee is a French form of poetry meaning thought. It is nonrhyming and can be a one-stanza poem or more. This form has just five lines and is a syllabic poem built this way:

My example:

Title: Last Words

You called,
There was anguish
In your voice, but nobody
Sees or hears, your plea all in vain
For their hearts are long dead.

I heard your call
But I could not come to you.
Men have bound my feet, and made sure
My death I won't escape.

5. Octet

Developed by Laura Andersson, octet, as the name suggests, consists of 8 lines with syllable counting backwards from 8 syllables to 1 syllable.This form does not rhyme.

My examples:


Beyond those blue mountain ranges
Lay a beauty once perfect
Then came men and ravage
All that they could seize
Till there was none
left but land--


~another example of a poem in octet form~

~another example of a poem in octet form~

6. Pregunta

Created by Ferrán Sánches Talavera, pregunta is a Spanish term that means question. Simply stated, pregunta is a poetic debate; questions followed by a witty but often wise answer. It is written in couplets, containing a question and an answer. This form does not rhyme, and there is no limit to the number of couplets as debate can go on and on.

My examples:

Title: Apathy

I am in pain, don't you see it?
No! Your suffering I don't mind.

My wings are broken, would you fix them?
Jeez! They are of no use for you.

My brothers scream in agony, don't you hear it?
Ha! Their screams are music to my ears.

My ill-timed death is near, don't you value life?
Oh, I do! But mine, not yours.

Why must you be like this?
For I am human, I care no one but myself.

~another example of pregunta~

~another example of pregunta~

7. Whitney

Created by Betty Ann Whitney, who gave her name to this form, Whitney is a syllabic one-stanza poem of seven lines with a total of 28 syllables.

It is divided in this way:
line 1: 3 syllables
line 2: 4 syllables
line 3: 3 syllables
line 4: 4 syllables
line 5: 3 syllables
line 6: 4 syllables
line 7: 7 syllables

My example:

go beyond
the horizon,
there you'd find
a paradise
where goodness
thrives; a place where
all is one and one is all.

8. The Count Up

The count up is a form that consists of 55 syllables that are then divided into ten lines. It starts with one syllable, adding a syllable each line. As a result, your poem should end up with the tenth line with ten syllables. Rhyme and meter are allowed.

My example:

you're free
no more chains
nor iron bars
shall fetter you down
to this ravaged Earth where
hordes of men roam like bandits,
spilling blood the way you sing songs;
fly, let the wind take you to the sky,
to the heavens where you truly belong.

9. The Quintine

The Quintine is a one-stanza poem consisting of five nonrhyming lines that follow the 1-3-5-7-9 syllable count. It is built up in this way:


An example:

for water
this land is thirsty
even the grass fails to grow
their torn withered blades; bereft of hope.

10. Cinquain

Developed by Adelaide Crapsey, an American poet, a cinquain (sin-kane) contains five lines (the French word cinq can be found in it) and is unrhymed. It has a total of 22 syllables which is divided this way:

Line 1: 2 syllables
Line 2: 4 syllables
Line 3: 6 syllables
Line 4: 8 syllables
Line 5: 2 syllables

An example:


11. Quinzaine

Quinzaine comes from the word "quinze" which, in French, means fifteen. This form is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables distributed in three lines. The first line makes a statement and the next two lines ask a question relating to the statement.

Here is the pattern:
Line 1: Statement of 7 syllables
Line 2: Beginning of question with 5 syllables
Line 3: End of the question with 3 syllables

My example:

A man hoists a pointed knife
Will he free a life
or slay it?

12. Tetractys

The Tetractys contains five unrhyming lines with a total of 20 syllables divided as follows:

line 1 - 1 syllable
line 2 - 2 syllables
line 3 - 3 syllables
line 4 - 4 syllables
line 5 - 10 syllables

My example:

me my life,
curb my freedom;
now it’s over before I could live it.

13. VIllanelle

A villanelle is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets (five stanzas of three lines) followed by a quatrain (four-line stanza). The entire poem is composed of two refrains and two repeating rhymes -the first and third lines of the first tercet are repeated alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza except the last stanza which includes both repeated lines. The rhyming scheme is as follows: aba-aba-aba-aba-aba-abaa.

An example penned by Beryl Zephyr:

14. Acrostic Monorhyme

Acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase. Typically, the first letters of each line are used to spell the message, but they can appear anywhere like in the middle or at the end of each line. However, unlike acrostic poem that is nonrhyming, acrostic monorhyme is rhyming and follows the a-a-a-a rhyme scheme. The first letter of each line of the poem forms a word.

An example:

Packed with words, powerful and deep
Oliver's works can now go to sleep
Ever enticing, the emotions leap
Traversing boundaries, low and steep
Rarely we do read poems that sweep
Years of history that now we reap.

Note: The word formed here is POETRY

15. Monchielle

Developed by Jim T. Henriksen, a monchielle has the following guidelines:

~ The poem contains out of 4 stanzas
~ Each stanza has five lines.
~ Every line has six syllables
~ Every first line is repeated and comes back as the first line of all the other stanzas.
~Line 3 and 5 rhyme, in every stanza.
~The rhyme scheme: Abcdc Aefgf Ahiji Aklml (c:c does not rhyme with f:f nor i:i nor l:l)

Here is my example:

Title: That Day

The day you went away
You took along with you
The glimmer in my eyes
The luster on my face
And I lived in disguise

The day you went away
You left something behind
A soul that is ailing
A heart that is broken
A life void of meaning

The day you went away
My lambent world blacked out,
Keeled over and crumbled
Everything about it
Gone, and left me crippled

The day you went away,
Though it took me a while,
Taught me a great lesson
I don’t need your presence
Without you, life moves on.

Poetry is a form of literature that is extensive. Being said that, the above-mentioned forms are just a few. Certainly, there are more interesting forms of poetry out there that brilliant poets and writers keep creating. And I shall add them here once I am able to write my examples of them.

I hope you found this article informative. Let me know if you enjoyed reading the example poems by leaving your comments below.

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