5 Great Ways for How to Write a Pantoum

Our theme this month at Tweetspeak Poetry is the Pantoum. As always, we gently invite you to both read along and write along with the theme. To do that, you might need to keep your options open. We get that. So here are…

5 Great Ways to Write a Pantoum

1. Hire someone to write a pantoum for you. We can recommend our teenaged contingent, writer of sestinas, sonnets, pantoums, villanelles, or whatever else the poetic establishment might dream up

2. Pretend you know what a pantoum is and sing your way through it with One Direction and Bon Jovi

3. Consult our Pantoum Infographic.

4. Borrow a pantoum from Every Day Poems. We will visit you in detention if you get busted for poetry filching.

5. Suck it up and follow the basic guidelines for becoming a pantoum master…

Basic Guidelines for How to Write a Pantoum

1. Remember that a pantoum is similar to a villanelle, with lines repeating throughout the poem

2. Contains a series of quatrains (stanzas of four lines), that rhyme abab until the final stanza (you’ll see why in number 5)

3. Repeat the 2nd and 4th lines of each stanza as the 1st and 3rd lines in the stanza that follows. For example:

Stanza 1 lines: A B C D
Stanza 2 lines: B E D F
Stanza 3 lines: E G F H

4. Continue for any number of stanzas

5. Switch it up in the final stanza: last line grabs 1st line from very first stanza, 2nd line grabs 3rd line from very first stanza

Final Stanza lines: I C J A

6. Get fancy? Alter your repeating line meanings by punning, moving punctuation, changing context, or substituting one or two words without losing the overall sense that it is the same line

7. Unlike the villanelle, which can be fairly comic if one wishes, the pantoum tends to ruminate. Great for when you are feeling out-of-sorts. (Actually, we dare you to try to write a funny pantoum. Let us see it if you do.)

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing

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Comments

  1. Mary Ellen Stypinski says

    Please reply. Where and how do I submit my Pantoum? I have completed writing this form.
    Thank You

  2. says

    Hey, I wrote one of those back in grad school. It was inspired by LOTR:

    A Pantoum in Khazad-Dûm

    We cannot get out
    Drums doom in the deep
    The folly of our pride released
    We dug too deep

    Drums doom in the deep
    Rattling chains in chasm’d halls
    We dug too deep
    Unleashed the shadow of our fall

    Rattling chains in chasm’d halls
    Lost from light so long ago
    Unleashed the shadow of our fall
    In greed our industry suspired

    Lost from light so long ago
    Hence Khazad-Dûm, Moria became
    In greed our industry suspired
    Our glory lost beneath Caradhras

    Hence Khazad-Dûm, Moria became
    In the darkness corpses mingled
    Our glory lost beneath Caradhras
    Our shame of defeat swallowed, entombed

    In the darkness corpses mingled
    Do not let your specter join us
    Our shame of defeat swallowed, entombed
    Let it not become your eternal grave

    Do not let your specter join us
    The folly of our pride released
    Let it not become your eternal grave
    We cannot get out

    • L. L. Barkat says

      my favorite line:

      “drums doom in the deep”

      And that seems to be the mood of the basic pantoum as well :)

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