Blog, Pantoum, poetry, Themed Writing Projects, writing prompts

The Collaborative Pantoum (A Writing Prompt)


This month at Tweetspeak, we’ve been exploring pantoums, the poetic form comprised of a series of quatrains, each successive quatrain borrowing lines from the previous. And as I’ve been studying and writing pantoums over these last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a great deal about collaboration.

“What does collaboration have to do with the pantoum?” you inquire.

I’m glad you asked.

Recently, we’ve defined collaboration here at Tweetspeak, noting that it is “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” Isn’t that the way a pantoum works, each quatrain collaborating with its successor, quatrain working with quatrain to create a complete work? Yes, the pantoum is a metaphor, an artistic expression of cooperation.

Consider this example by Maureen Doallas, which was submitted as part of last week’s pantoum writing prompt:

Perhaps your dream drifted
through unbreathed air. My own,
perhaps, has settled, there.
Cherry blossoms still and fall.

Through unbreathed air my own
love threads a mask too dark to bare.
Cherry blossoms still and fall.
Night showers us in too-pink shawls.

Notice how the second quatrain borrows “unbreathed air,” and the cherry blossoms that still.

The more I consider the pantoum, the more I think that it is the perfect poetic medium for artistic collaboration, and for this week’s poetry prompt, we’re going to do just that.

Writing Prompt: Are you ready for a collaborative writing challenge, ready for a bit of group-think? Are you willing to engage in collective artistic expression, to build something with your fellow poets here at Tweetspeak? I’ll start in the comments below, using the second and fourth lines from the closing quatrain in Maureen’s “Perhaps,” which reads:

I cleave, as moon the sun or night the day.
I hold remorse, itself hearts sway.
Remind me, love, who comes, who stays.
Perhaps your dream drifted.

Join me, building a grand pantoum in a collective comment. Write your own quatrain, borrowing the second and fourth lines of the preceding comment. Are you ready? Let’s get after it. (For more on the benefits of collaborative writing, visit Tweetspeak’s recent article on the topic.)


Tweetspeak’s March Pantoum Prompt:

This month’s poetry theme at Tweetspeak is Pantoum, and we’ll be composing poems that fit the genre. This is an open month as far as thematic content goes, so be creative. How do you participate?

1. Study up on the Pantoum style, the form and theory.

2. Compose your own pantoum.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSPantoum hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your poem here in the comment box.

5. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and feature it in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

Last week’s pantoum prompt was filled with some interesting submissions. Elizabeth Marshall played with the form, eschewing quatrains and humorously attempting to capture the essence of the pantoum in a more free-flowing bit. She wrote:

…the first pantoum… I, well tried to write, it was so hauntingly repetitive I thought I was losing my mind, as I tried to write it. My first pantoum still haunts me. I worked so hard at staying within the bounds of the format when I wrote it, I thought I was losing my mind. Let me repeat. Try proofing your own pantoum against the required format, eyes blurred over, oh you get the point. Off to try again. If I don’t come back, please come looking for me. I may be lost in the maze that is the pantoum. And yes, I know first I must go research the “inventor” of the first pantoum and blame them for all the craziness.

B.A. Sheldon gave it a lyrical go in his pantoum, “Listen.” He wrote in part:

Who ogle at their own devices
Mesmerized and disconnected
Launching notes on glowing vices
What is precious, undetected

Mesmerized and disconnected
Singing fades, flutters away
What is precious, undetected
Listening has lost today.

Make sure you visit the comments for Sheldon’s entire poem.

Thanks to all of those who participated last week. I enjoyed each of the submissions.

Now, let’s get to work on the collective pantoum. I’ll go first. Who’s next?

Photo by Ed Yourdon, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Seth Haines


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In February we’re exploring the theme The Pantoum.



Your Comments

30 Comments so far

  1. Seth Haines says:

    I hold remorse, itself. Hearts sway
    in four/four meter, at your memory,
    perhaps. Your dream drifted to me;
    you, the haunting residue of beauty.

  2. Chris Yokel says:

    In four/four meter, at your memory
    I will sing of what has gone from me
    you, the haunting residue of beauty
    smudged upon my heart and mind.

  3. I sing of what has gone: from me
    to you the wind’s light kiss no more
    smudged upon my heart. In mind
    I hold what lightly falls. It rains.

  4. Such a fun exercise, Seth. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

  5. Donna says:

    To you the wind’s light kiss no more
    leaves gentle brightening on the cheek…
    I hold what light falls. It rains
    On both sides of the window

  6. Wendy Mauro says:

    Gentle brightening on the cheek,
    then clouding of the heart and soul..
    on both sides of the window fall
    the tears, the rain, the memories…

  7. Then: clouding of the heart. And soul
    risks words in phantom’s rush. What of
    the tears, the rain, the memories
    we let slip in sleep’s sweet murmurings.

  8. Are ya’ll through? I’m afraid to shake this beauty up. Anyone going to start another or this going to go on for awhile. Love it but afraid to touch it. :) What fun.

  9. The words run down like rivulets, I sleep
    Perhaps. Your dream drifted to me;
    I catch one phrase, no more, the one sharp edged,
    I hold, remorse, itself. Hearts sway.

  10. She submits with” pantoum paranoia”….ever heard of it. Its a new syndrome for poet’s who have a love hate relationship with the form.

  11. Perhaps your dream drifted to me;
    I catch a glimpse like a vision veiled.
    I hold, remorse, itself. Hearts sway
    like air against skin, not knowing how to begin.

  12. I catch a glimpse, a vision veiled.
    The bride has fled, the oath renounced, quietly,
    like air against skin. Not knowing how to begin,
    she hates what love does start again.

  13. The bride has fled, the oath renounced, quietly,
    like a dagger to dreams, a murder.
    She hates what love does start again;
    but after the death comes birth.

  14. Stu Lev says:

    Comes: a slash of veil, disguise undone.
    For the murder has only just begun.
    I scold. Remorce itself hearts away.
    Let’s hope we live to see another day.

  15. Jon says:

    And all that is good seems to come undone,
    for all evils slashing thinks it has finally
    won/Stain dandelions, dying in the sun
    “come blow” the wind, “our seeds are spun”


  1. This Week's Top 10 Poetic Picks - Tweetspeak Poetry - March 28, 2013

    [...] the month of March, we’ve been playing with pantoums at Tweetspeak, and it’s been fun. Consider this collective pantoum we’ve been working on this week. Who knew that the prompt would lead to such an amazing collaborative [...]

  2. Puff The Magic Dragon v. The Chupacabra (A Poetry Prompt) - April 1, 2013

    [...] month we composed poetry around the pantoum form. I loved all of the poems submitted last month, but my favorite piece was the collective pantoum written by you, the Tweetspeak readers! When compiled, it reads something like [...]

Share with our Community

Post a comment

Take How to Read a Poem

Get the Introduction, the Billy Collins poem, and Chapter 1

How to Read a Poem by Tania Runyan

Free with tweet

Subscribe to our newsletter

Grab the Quote a Day Widget


Poetry for Life? Here's our manifesto on the matter...

Poetry for Life: The 5 Vital Approaches

Help make it happen. Post The 5 Vital Approaches on your site!

Learn to Write Form Poems

Whether or not you end up enjoying the form poem, we've seen the value of building your skills through writing in form.

One reader who explored the villanelle was even featured in Every Day Poems!

How to Write a Ballad

How to Write a Catalog Poem

How to Write a Ghazal

How to Write a Haiku

How to Write an Ode

How to Write a Pantoum

How to Write a Sestina

How to Write a Sonnet

How to Write a Villanelle

They Bring Poetry for Life

Meet our wonderful partners, who bring "poetry for life" to students, teachers, librarians, businesses, employees—to all sorts of people, across the world.

All top
I am

© 2015 . Powered by WordPress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium WordPress Themes