Cinquain Poetry

Colleen Chesebro, author, poet, and prose metrist, from East Lansing, Michigan, presented a class on syllabic poetry during our February meeting. The syllabic verse is determined by the number of syllables per line, rather than the number of stresses. She highlighted Crapsey cinquain poetry, the style designed by Adelaide Crapsey, a 20th-century poet born in Brooklyn and raised in Rochester.

Cinquains are five-line poems that are usually about nature or a natural phenomenon. American cinquains have a 2-4-6-8-2 syllable count and do not need to rhyme. Words that create drama are built into the fourth line. The turn occurs on line five, which is the most important line. This is where you change your focus away from the drama in some interesting way. She had us write our own poems and gave examples of different types of cinquains. Poetry can be helpful with a visual impression of scenes or characters and can assist with dramatic chapter endings.

When writing and composing syllabic poetry, it’s best to use a syllable counter to check your accuracy, e.g., and the ProWritingAide extension (it’s free).

Cinquain Samples Written During Presentation

Poppet  by Kathy Plum


Poppet, plucky 

Poppet, so sweet and so

Innocent is my playful pup


I Visit   by Mary Lou Heilman               

Grief stone

Holds down my joy

Imprisons my thinking

Endures forever that stone


In the School Hallway  by Kim Gore


Bitter review

Envy wrapped in comment

Opened in a heat-filled moment


Sunset by S. Arthur Yates


Steals light from life

Returns it, but not all

Some is lost, never to be seen

Old age

1978 Baseball Fans  by Sue Spitulnik

Red Sox

Hate Bucky Dent

Cost them the World Series

Next Year