How to Write a Diamante: Opposites Attract
So you want to write a diamante?
My familiarity with this form goes back to the poems I learned to write in elementary school. This one was written back then by my friend Kate in our Pegasus collection.
Hearing, hiding, hunting
Paws, claws, tongues, tails
Romping, roaming, retrieving
– Kate Newcomb
The idea of the diamante is to take two opposites and link them using a form that makes a diamond shape. You do not need to rhyme. You don’t need to count syllables. You only need to know a few parts of speech. If you took fifth-grade language arts, you should be good to go.
Diamante poems were created in 1969 by a poet and educator named Iris McClellan Tiedt. Even though the structure is simple, a diamante enables us to do something profound: to balance opposites.
Line 1: one noun
Line 2: two adjectives
Line 3: three verbs, usually ending with -ing
Line 4: four nouns. The middle of this line is the turn from the opposite at the beginning of the poem to the opposite at the end.
Line 5: three verbs, usually ending in -ing
Line 6: two adjectives
Line 7: one noun
In Rainbow Crow, my poem “Love birds” contrasts male crows with female crows. The scientific details about what each bird does to attract a mate come from In the Company of Crows and Ravens. I wanted to write about two corvid love birds, who obviously deserve each other
bowing, knocking, tail-spreading
head-fluffing, fanning, gurgling,
If you look closely, you’ll see I did not follow the rules exactly. In line 4, I only used two nouns : King and Queen. I suppose I could have written it as King Crow. Queen Crow, but I liked the way it looked, with those two words mirroring the two words of the title.
The diamante shows that opposites, such as heat and cold, are two sides of the same coin — weather. Is there a magic temperature that makes me grab a jacket? I say I’m cold if today is colder than yesterday. And tomorrow I will be hot if it’s warmer than today. What I call opposites may be a rather arbitrary distinction.
Where does the switch flip? Well, in a diamante, it’s easy to spot: Right in the middle of Line 4.
Your Turn: Write a Diamante
Think of two opposite ideas — work and vacation, cat and dog, Christmas and Scrooge. Write down as many words as you can think of to describe your opposites, using adjectives, nouns, and verbs ending with -ing. Follow the guidelines and try to write a diamante.
Browse more children’s poetry
“Megan Willome has captured the essence of crow in this delightful children’s collection. Not only do the poems introduce the reader to the unusual habits and nature of this bird, but also different forms of poetry as well.”
—Michelle Ortega, poet and children’s speech pathologist