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by Randall

The Cinquain is a five line poem invented by American poet Adelaid Crapsey. She took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka. She published 28 Cinquains titled Verse in 1915.

Poetry has always held a fascination for me. From the earliest age I can remember, couldn’t wait to find a new poem to read…even if I didn’t understand what it meant. Wrote a poem at age 6 and my dear mother had it published in the local newspaper. Something about springtime and birds as I recall.

Today, with more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than at the top, I’ve come to understand that I don’t have to be an accredited poet, determined by the size of the appreciative audience, but allow poetry to happen. “Breathe in-experience, breathe out- poetry”  Muriel Rukeyser.

Poetry is word painting and sometimes the poetic brush moves swiftly across the canvas, as if pre-assembled. Other times, genuine thought of theme and careful wordsmithing to convey the topic are required. Either way can result in a target center outcome or a shot above the reader’s head. Poetry flung out in rapid fire exchange can bring out some beautiful “word bounce” and when the laughter has found a brief recess, the pirates of prose often wonder how those rhymes fell into place.

The Cinquain offered an architectural framework for those who wanted to convey their thoughts in a succinct form, a way to avoid the calamity of extrapolative elements that too often spoil the topic. I chose the Didactic Cinquain because of its simplicity, and better yet, the words don’t have to rhyme.

The outline for writing a Cinquain is simple:
First Line…one word…the title
Second Line…two words…adjectives to describe the title
Third Line…three words…subject of the poem or action
Fourth Line…four words…emotions about the subject, individual words or a phrase
Fifth Line…one word…synonym of the title or similar to it

Writing this piece was all about invitation. Present a platform to the reader in which they have an opportunity, a forum to expel their thoughts, and then drink in the words…the insights of others.

For those unfamiliar with the Cinquain I offer a couple of samples:

New Era
Seek to find
Others of like kind

Persistent creatures
Odd looking features
The frog is near

Of course the topics are limitless and anything can happen with an eleven word structure. From tragedy to comedy, esoteric to academic, the five liner can add punch to your prose.

There you have it. Your Cinquain Craft awaits. Climb into the cockpit, grasp the controls and fly us with your thoughts. Your passengers are ready for take off.

“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations”. John F. Kennedy





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  1. Love this Randall ! ! This is fun ! It is so good to see someone share a passion .”painting with word’s ” I think I will go and paint . Thank you for this Love Kitty cxxxxc

    • Thank you Kitty!! I’ve read your comments and you paint beautifully. The five liner is a small canvas but can hold anything you think…..just whittle on it…bring it down to the core.

      Gone mad
      Then comes Kitty
      She is so witty

      • Just seen this Randall , thank you ,x This is just seriously ,dare I say cool? , reading all these poems has put a huge smile on my face and it doesn’t want to go !! LOl love ,hugs Kitty xxx

  2. How fun Randall. I remember we had to write Haikus in high school, it was so simple it seemed difficult then. Here’s a go with my Cinquain on a timely topic. Hope I pass ;)

    He’s arrived
    Third in Line
    Who the eff cares?

  3. Smile
    Unique Expression
    Passing along goodwill
    Breaking Many a Barrier

    Thanks, Randall!!! Fun… going to do it with my kids as well! :-) Much love!

    • Lil’ Momma….that is just too cool….and sage as well. Got a great start for your kids…see if they can top that (:

      Love flyin’ with all you!!!!

  4. Randall, thanks for post, however it seems to me that the structure of the cinquain is not measured in words but counts, as the quoted cinquain says. If you read it in counts you’ll see it starts with 2 and then 4, 6, 8 and finally 2 again, always an even count. That’s what gives it the haiku flavor.

    That said, here’s my grain of sand:

    What a sweet word
    In the mouth, on the tongue
    Yet we have never tasted it.
    How odd.

    • You are right…it’s not only counts but stresses. I chose the didactic for this article..again for simplicity. Flavor is found in resonating message. Splendid Cinquain….Thank You Jay

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