How to craft Syllabic Poetry

Are you new to crafting syllabic poetry and don’t know how to start? Let me show you two syllabic poetry forms to get you started on your poetry writing journey now…

Let’s start with an American form, the Crapsey Cinquain. The Crapsey Cinquain is a five-line, non-rhyming poem featuring a syllable structure of 2-4-6-8-2. Choose words that create drama that builds into the fourth line. The turn occurs on line five, the most important line. This is where you change your focus away from the drama in some interesting way. Cinquain poems need a title.

Use a syllable counter as you compose your poetry. I use sodacoffee.com/syllables/. See my example below:

"Day Dawns"

pink blush—
fairy sunshine
smudges morning's gray clouds
dew sparkles against the grasses
thunder

© Colleen M. Chesebro

In the Crapsey cinquain above, I described a morning sunrise. True to the form, I pivoted in line five. My last two-syllables are where I turned away from the beauty of the scene and added the word “thunder.” This gives a hint that not everything is as it seems in the idyllic scene I described.

LEARN more about the Crapsey cinquain form at cinquain.org.


If Japanese poetry intrigues you, start with the haiku. Haiku contains three lines following the short-long-short, 3-5-3, 2-3-2, (5-7-5 traditional) syllable count. Your haiku should contain approximately twelve syllables. We write haiku about nature, the seasons, a beautiful moment in nature, an emotional experience while in nature, or change. Haiku are untitled. The use of a Kigo (season word) is optional. Haiku do not rhyme. Do not use metaphors or similes in haiku.

(When you’re first learning how to write haiku, use the 5-7-5 syllable structure until you’re ready to embrace the shorter formats.)

When we write haiku, we’re sharing an encounter between nature and ourself as a human. We describe our experience at that exact moment. These are the moments that stand out and grab our attention in unexpected ways.

clouds stitched together
against the blue cloth of sky
summer's heat rises

© Colleen M. Chesebro

In the haiku above, I describe the clouds, and how they look against a blue sky. Notice my choice of words. I also used a kigo or season word, which is summer. Now, you’re experiencing the moment with me…

Break your haiku into two separate word images:

clouds stitched together against the blue cloth of sky

against the blue cloth of sky summer’s heat rises

This is a great way to check your haiku when you’ve finished writing. Combine the first and second line of your haiku. Does a mental image appear? In this example, you can see the clouds contrast the color of the blue sky. Remember the brevity of words.

However, when you take the second and third line and combine them, you receive another mental image. Now you see the heat shimmers against the blue sky.

The idea is to write about two contrasting or somehow similar images, and to connect them in unusual ways. Haiku are all about images. How does the haiku make you feel? Have you created emotion without telling your reader how to feel?

That’s it! You’re ready to craft syllabic poetry. Join us every Tuesday on wordcraftpoetry.com for Tanka Tuesday and get your poetry writing groove on!

I’ve done the work of researching these syllabic forms for you. Word Craft: Prose & Poetry is available as an Ebook and a Print book. mybook.to/WordCraftProsePoetry Let’s write syllabic poetry together! <3

Another blog Update…

Hello everybody! I’m in the midst of the worst mercury retrograde I’ve ever experienced. A couple of months ago my email was hacked. To add to my bucket of woe, I have had countless issues with WordPress, Facebook, and today, Instagram. Someone cloned my account and is sending spam messages to everyone. The Instagram account is deleted. This doesn’t include all the issues in my personal life that have surfaced. It’s a tough time for all of us.

There’s been a few changes on my blog(s) and I want to make sure everyone knows what went where. I’ve split Word Craft ~Prose & Poetry from my personal writings. On my author blog, colleenchesebro.com you will find my poetry and short stories, along with Faery Tarot Friday. My pagan writings will appear there, as well.

I’m working on finishing up Fairies, Myths, & Magic II, A Winter Celebration, so if I seem distant, I’m writing. My other book, Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry, should publish by next spring. There’s a lot going on!

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry at the new domain of wordcraftpoetry.com will be the main hub for the Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge. The weekly poetry challenge will remain there, along with book reviews and Author interviews. You might have to subscribe to my blog again to get an email of my posts. Currently, I have no email newsletter. Most of them want a paid email for my blog and not a gmail account.

I’ve updated the front page and the blog categories to make things easier to find. Take a look around. Let me know if something is not right.

I want Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry to remain an active poetic community. In the future, we’ll have a brainstorming session (questions you’ll answer) to help me figure out where we want to go with the challenges. I hope to add some rhyming syllabic forms and I want your input.

I’d love to host a yearly poetry challenge, but haven’t determined the parameters, yet. I would love to sponsor weekly features (guest blogs) by poets who would like to share different forms for us to learn, or other poetic topics. I want to interview our poets! I want to know all about you and your poetry. More about that later!

Long term, I would like to compile a yearly poetry journal that everyone could purchase for a nominal fee ($.99 each) with submissions from the poetry challenges or from other submissions. (I’m not sure yet how that would work). That could give us the funds to host a small prize poetry contest each year.

Thanks for putting up with the moving of posts and all the other crazy WP issues. Please share your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think.

No TRICKS… only TREATS!

Exciting News!

Just a heads up… I’ve changed the domain name of Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry to wordcraftpoetry.com. I’ve created an author blog (still in progress) at colleenchesebro.com. Bear with me while I make all these changes in headers, etc. It might be confusing for awhile, but there is no good time to make these changes.

It was always my dream to create an active poetry community on Word Craft ~Prose & Poetry and that is finally in the works. I have many exciting plans for the future.

Thanks for being part of this poetry community. I appreciate you all! <3