At its most fundamental, a cinquain poem is simply a poem written in five-line stanzas. Perhaps it’s only one stanza, five lines long. But dig a little deeper, and we find a wide variety of cinquain forms. There’s Adelaide Crapsey’s famous American Cinquain form, fashioned after the Japanese haiku and tanka. There’s the mirror cinquain, the butterfly, the reverse cinquain, and don’t forget the Spanish quintilla (not to be confused with the Spanish Inquisition, though no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) and the Sicilian quintain (and truly, never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, even if you’re just writing poetry).
We’ve been exploring the cinquain (aka quintain, aka quintet) all month. To wrap things up, we’ve put together this fun cinquain infographic.
Post and infographic by Will Willingham.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland