Let’s All Write a Cinquain!

by Paul Mathers

The Cinquain is, as the name might suggest, a poem of five-line stanzas or a poem in five lines. We are focusing on the latter. The syllabic pattern is, respectively, two, four, six, eight, and two syllables. That’s all there is to it.

Adelaide Crapsey was an American poet who wrote quite a bit in this style around the end of her short life. She wrote elegant little poetic snapshots in the form. Here is an example of her work:

They seem simple and, to some extent, they are. But to write them well one needs the poet’s editorial eye, the concision that befits the masterful writer. Also, as for content, Padgett suggests that the best ones tend more towards the listing of nouns rather than abstractions. The zen-like feel compliments the austere form. I am inclined to agree although, upon writing two of my own, I found that I did one of each:

I put

my hand on closed

bedroom door as my dog

stood on bed barking, shut eyes, vibrates

my palm

Once I

had joie de vivre.

They said life would kill that.

It did. And all that’s left is hate

for them.