NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 1


Cinquain # 1:  Meeting The Challenge

 It’s here:
The challenge now is this:
A brand new poem ev’ry day.

This year for NaPoWriMo, I’m creating a new cinquain every day in April (or at least I’m starting out to do that. I may or may not have 30 when we’re done.) If you’d like to challenge yourself to write a new poem every day during National Poetry Writing Month, hop over to the NaPoWriMo site for some interesting information and prompts. You don’t have to follow the prompts, but they’re worth checking out in case they strike your fancy.

I’m doing cinquain because, although I generally prefer poetry forms that require rhyme and specific meter, I do occasionally enjoy writing in some of the forms that are based on syllable count. And of all those forms, my favorite is cinquain.  It is also the only totally American poetic form — created by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey.  She was inspired by the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka, but cinquain has its own syllabic pattern and its own unique charm. So this time around, rather than follow the NaPoWriMo prompts, I’m going cinquain all the way.

The form requires a 5-line stanza with the syllable count in each line as follows:

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

The basic meter is iambic pentameter. However, there are many variations on the cinquain that Adelaide Crapsey wrote, and as with other poetic forms, each poet adds his or her own personality to the work.




18 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 1

  1. Hey thats a great theme for this month.Good luck. See you around.
    well i have taken on ‘poeming’ on different forms each day.Take a look 😉

    1. I haven’t had time to participate every year, but I think I’ve taken part 3 times. I never did manage to get 30 poems created, but one year I did do as many as 18 in the month. Not a great record, but I was pretty pleased about having created 18 pieces of literature that hadn’t existed before I jumped into NaNoWriMo. Maybe this time I’ll be able to add 30 new pieces to my stockpile.

      1. Last year was my first time participating, and I did manage to do the 30 poems…but now I’ll see if that was fluke or whether I can pull it off again.

    1. That’s a question that will get a different answer, depending on the person you ask. There are a number of people who consider themselves “poetry experts” who will try to tell you that cinquain originally dealt with nature fairly exclusively and should continue to do so — sort of like haiku. Adelaide Crapsey, the creator of cinquain was a great fan of Japanese haiku and tanka, so that’s probably a reasonable conclusion. However, I don’t see that fact in her own cinquains.

      She wrote almost as much about things that involved human beings and life in general as she did of just nature. So, taking my cue from the creator of the form, I let my own imagination take me to whatever theme I’m feeling at the time of creation.

      There are also fairly involved explanations of how the last line should “fall back” or turn from the “drama” of the first four lines in some effective way. But, again, in Crapsey’s work, I don’t see that being a constant. Some of her pieces do give a different tone — or sound a different note in the last line that differs from the other four, yet some of the pieces simply complete the thought in line five. So — again — taking my cue from the original creator — I go with what’s in my heart at the time I write.

      I don’t know if that helps or not, but it’s my take on cinquain, and it’s basically what I teach my students. I personally believe that Adelaide Crapsey did not try to force a them or a dramatic affect into her poems. I believe she concentrated on the syllabic count, and the iambic foot and then required whatever she felt at the time to fit that frame. (She wrote several poems about death, but she had some severe sickness and died early, so that probably accounts for that fact.)

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