How To Write Cinqku 

Cinqku is a combination of two poetry forms that we have featured before: the cinquain, and the haiku. This form uses the five line form of the cinquain and the seventeen syllable count of the traditional haiku.

How To Write Cinqku

How To Write Cinqku 

Cinqku is a combination of two poetry forms that we have featured before: the cinquain, and the haiku. This form uses the five line form of the cinquain and the seventeen syllable count of the traditional haiku. Originally created by Denis M. Garrison, the cinqku has no meter or rhyme scheme, though there are other strict rules for its construction that must be followed. A cinqku must always have 5 lines and a perfect seventeen-syllable count. The lines typically follow a 2,3,4,6,2 format. There is no title requirement on the second line.

Rules of the Cinqku  

  1. It is a poem of 5 lines
  2. Each line has a set number of syllables
  3. The first line is 2, second is 3, third is 4, fourth is six, fifth is 2 again
  4. There is no rhyme scheme or meter

Example Cinqku:

work week done.
Expectant kids
want it to last—too bad:

by Trish Shields

Advantages of the Form

The Cinqku poetry form, an innovative and minimalist variation of traditional haiku, presents both challenges and advantages for poets seeking to explore brevity and impactful expression. One primary challenge lies in adhering to the strict structure of five lines, with precise syllabic counts of 2, 3, 4, 6, and 2, respectively.

Crafting meaningful and evocative verses within these constraints requires careful selection of words and themes, as there is little room for extraneous elements. Additionally, maintaining the essence of a traditional haiku while incorporating two additional lines demands skillful composition and creativity. Writers must strike a delicate balance, ensuring that each line contributes to the poem’s overall impact without overburdening its simplicity.

Challenges of the Form

However, these constraints also offer unique advantages to poets delving into the Cinqku form. The brevity of five lines allows for swift and concentrated storytelling, capturing profound moments or emotions with striking clarity.

The limited syllabic structure encourages writers to hone their language, seeking the most powerful and concise expressions possible. Furthermore, the Cinqku’s subtle deviation from the traditional haiku fosters an opportunity for artistic experimentation, providing an avenue for poets to infuse their own style and interpretation into the form.

In a world of constant information overload, the Cinqku offers a refreshing and thought-provoking medium for both writers and readers, inviting them to engage in contemplation and reflection through minimalistic yet impactful verse.

Cinqku Writing Prompts

Prompt 1 – Summer Cometh

The cinqku is based partially on the haiku form, which typically celebrates some aspect of nature. Summer is almost officially upon us, so use those haiku roots to write a cinqku that focuses on summer.


Each year,
I loathe June.
I can feel sweat
start to bead on my brow—
Ugh, gross.

Prompt 2 – Animal Perspective

Write a cinqku poem from the perspective of an animal. Will you be soaring the skies as a hawk? Or napping in the sunlight like a cat? The world is your oyster, literally.


water sifts
through my hard shell,
forming, very slowly—
The Pearl

Prompt 3 – Flipping the Script

A lot of the famous haiku authors show appreciation for nature, but there’s no way they ALWAYS felt that way. Write a cinqku poem about your least favorite parts of nature.


like a child—
Clouds roll in, rains falls, then
the Sun

Prompt 4 – Five Words, Five Lines

Write a cinqku poem using one word for each syllabic line.



Prompt 5 – Good Artists Borrow

This poem has been emulated thousands of times, and now it’s your turn. Use this poem as inspiration to create one of your own:

Matsuo Bashô’s famous Frog Haiku:

The old pond;
A frog jumps in —
The sound of the water.


The frog
Jumps in pond
To escape the
Prying eyes of poets

Prompt 6 – Sonics

Write a cinqku in appreciation of your favorite, or underrated sound.


The crunch
beneath me
in winter months—
snowfall like ceramics,
just fired

Prompt 7 – Get Cozy With It

The cinqku is a short poem, nice and cozy. Use that form to write about things in the world that make you feel cozy.


cat heartbeats
followed up with
the familiar meow—

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Sam and Corey started Poetry is Pretentious to demystify poetry. More importantly, their 5th grade teacher told them they couldn’t go through life as a team. 18 years later they’re here to prove her wrong.


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