Unknown Forms and Shapes of Poetry to Think About.

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Poetry, Poetry Book | 0 comments

Photo by José Nicolás Castellanos Ramírez

Raymond Quattlebaum, in his reflections on love in The Color of Love anthology, masterfully conveys the elegance and vividness of unknown forms and shapes of poetry.

Everyone’s heard of a sonnet and an ode. If you’re someone under 30, I’m certain you’re aware of what a haiku is and its memorable 5-7-5 syllabic structure. All of these and some others are very popular formats of poetry. This is either because these forms are so ubiquitous or because there were well-known poets who excelled in their creations. Yet, across the face of the globe, there are plenty of other unknown forms and shapes of poetry that want to shine under the spotlight.

Triolets, thanbauks, and the others below don’t have the same level of notoriety, but they are equally interesting and very compelling.

Unknown Forms and Shapes of Poetry 

First off, why are there even poetic forms? Can’t poetry be everything and anything in between? Well, you have to remember that before poems were written down, they were spoken–and having a set of rules on how to make them made it much easier to remember. 

Fixed-verse forms provide a framework for poets to learn how to be more creative. Poetic structure isn’t meant to stifle, but rather, it is meant to be a springboard for innovation. By being constrained, a poet can push the boundaries of where they find themselves and create surprising and delightful results.

Fibonacci Poem

A Fibonacci poem, also called a Fib, is a short poem that uses the Fibonacci sequence to determine its structure. The Fibonacci sequence is a famous series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.).

In a Fib, the number of syllables in each line corresponds to a number in the Fibonacci sequence. The most common Fib is a six-line poem with the following syllable structure: 1-1-2-3-5-8.

So, the first line has one word, the second line has one word, and so on. This creates a concise and interesting poem with a natural flow that reflects the mathematical pattern behind it.

Monostich

A monostich poem consists of just one line. It’s like a tiny eruption of imagery or emotion aiming to create a big impact within just a small space.

While the lines can be of any length, they typically are short and focus on a single idea or image. Sometimes, the poem’s title works together with a single line to create even more meaning.

Nonet

A nonet poem is a concise and unique poetic form with nine lines. Each line follows a specific syllable count that descends from the first line to the last. The first line has nine syllables, the second eight, and so on, until the final line with just one syllable.

There’s no set rhyme scheme for nonets, allowing for flexibility and concentrated creative expression. Think of it as a pyramid of words condensing your thoughts into a short, impactful piece.

Thanbauk

A thanbauk is a cool little poem form with roots in Burma. It’s typically written very short, sweet, and concise. In its native Burmese, it consists of three lines with four syllables each. When it comes to rhyming, this is where the thanbauk gets interesting. The last syllable of the first line rhymes with the third syllable of the second line and then again with the second syllable of the third line. (Think ABC-ACB)

Traditionally, thanbauks are witty or like mini-proverbs. They pack a lot of meaning in just twelve syllables!

For a masterful display of unknown forms and shapes of poetry, Raymond Quattlebaum, in his reflection on love in The Colors of Love anthology, is a great example. It’s available here and in all major online bookstores. 

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