The Lost Art of the Cinquain Poem

We live in a world of information bloat. Emails, the Internet, books, magazines, newspapers – we are bombarded with words. Is it possible to convey information in a brief manner? Maybe you need to use a cinquain.

A cinquain is a poem based on a specific line and syllable count. Its structure consists of: 5 lines and 22 syllables. Syllables are distributed as follows: line 1 – 2 syllables; line 2 – 4 syllables; line 3 – 6 syllables; line 4 – 8 syllables; line 5 – 2 syllables.

It is an American poetic form created by Adelande Crapsey in the early twentieth century. This form clearly shows its influence to the Japanese haiku.

Cinquains are fun to write. They make you think about the words you use. They teach you brevity and the rhythm and musicality of language.

This short poetic form is a great way to start a new article or to break through writer’s block. Before you create your outline or jot down notes about your article, try writing a cinquain that acts as asummary of your story. For example, I want to write a story about baseball. Since I’m from Boston I might want to write about what it felt like when the Red Sox finally won a World Series. I might want to write about how a city responds to its new team, for example the Washington Nationals. I might take a historical approach and write how baseball evolved from the English game of rounders.

Whatever approach I take, the important thing is to include the fun and excitement of baseball.

Baseballs flying
Fans cheering loud and clear
Innings pass, pitchers striking fast

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