In French, the word “cinq” means the number five, which already hints at the writing technique of this poem. A cinquain poem is brief, but very fun to write, and even more fun to read, much like a haiku. Some of the best stories out there are straight and to the point, and this type of poem is a clear example of how you as a poet can give a reader a wealth of information without many words. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Five: The number five is something you have to pay attention to while writing and reading a cinquain poem, because it creates two different patterns. The first pattern is that each group of lines, or stanza, must be only five lines long. The second pattern, which isn’t required but is still fun to experiment with is that with each line up to the fifth, you add one more word (the fifth line should match the first, consisting of only one word). So, since one is the smallest number, your first line should have one word, and your fourth line should have four words. Remember: in either pattern, your fifth line will have only one, mirroring the first line.
- Syllables: The syllables of this poem are formatted similarly to the latter pattern, in the sense that they end up becoming a mirror. The number of syllables, according to line numbers goes two, four, six, eight, two. So, the first line, which has one word, will have two syllables, and your second line which has two words will have four syllables, and so on. Again, remember that your last line will be just like the first.
- Subject: This is the best part. You can pick to write your cinquain about anything you want, so just brainstorm about what your favorite and/or least favorite objects or ideas are and think about a story to go with them, or just how you feel when you think about them. After you come up with a list, it might be fun to pick out the things you’ve come up with that happen to be two syllables. This way, you already have your subject and your first sentence done!
- Last Line/Word: If you’re having trouble finding another two-syllable word for your last line, try to think of a synonym for your first line. Not only will this help you sum up your poem, but it will add to the mirroring effect which a cinquain poem has as well as help make your subject have a stronger impact.
- Power Poetry: Post your cinquain poem to powerpoetry.org and maybe even start a collection of these simple and fun poems, or teach your friends how to master the cinquain!