How to Write a Cinquain Poem

I’ve been diving into writing poetry once more and one form of poetry that has piqued my interest is the Cinquain. You may remember the Cinquain from elementary school because it’s often delivered to kids as exercises in writing, rhyming, and well, poetry. Which, is great and all, but there is actually more to these poems that being that of elementary school writing exercises. The modern form of the Cinquain (often called the American Cinquain) was largely inspired by the Japanese haiku and tanka and was propelled into popularity by the lovely poet, Adelaide Crapsey. Cinquain’s fall into a class of poems that employ a pattern of five lines. The lines are often made up in the following syllabic form:






This is shown below with the example of Crapsey’s poem Triad:

These be
Three silent things:
The falling snow…the hour
Before the dawn…the mouth of one
Just dead.

I’ve been reading a lot of Crapsey’s poems lately to get a feel for this form and it truly is all about the stresses and syllables that are created when fashioning your own Cinquain. I’ve also delved into the elementary-school style of the Cinquain and do have to say that the simplicity is something that I truly like about it!


Take note of the differences in this version. We have the same syllabic form, but it’s word structure is what makes this version unique:

Line one: A vague, one word subject on the topic of the poem

Line two: Two adjectives that describe the topic

Line three: Three action verbs that end in ing

Line four: A four word phrase that relates a feeling/statement regarding the topic

Line five: A synonym that reveals the vague term in line one.

There are a bunch of different takes on the Cinquain and I encourage you to put pencils to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and try some of them out!








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