How To Write Reverse Cinquain
As the name suggests, the Reverse Cinquain is a poem of five lines. It is a variation of the American Cinquain. It is heavily inspired by haiku and tanka in Japanese poetry. This form is a poem of five lines that have specific syllable counts. (2,8,6,4,2)
Rules of the Reverse Cinquain
- It is a poem of five lines
- It is a poem of twenty-two syllables
- The syllable count of each line is (2,8,6,4,2)
- It is typically unrhymed
- As always, bend the rules if you want to
Advantages of the Form
This form is a great tool for short poems. It’s essentially a cousin to the haiku and tanka. It is a great medium to express imagery and beauty, but unlike haiku, is not typically hindered by any subject matter requirements. The format of the poem lends to great or twist endings. Additionally, this version is not the only form of cinquain. There are plenty of variations on the form if you find yourself stuck, or just want to keep exploring five-line poetry!
Variations of the Form
Reverse Cinquain – The syllable count of each line is (2,8,6,4,2)
Reverse Cinquain Writing Prompts
Prompt 1 – Bad Haircut
It’s a bad haircut. It’s the worst.
Please tell me that you did not just–
Did you just shave my head?
Well I guess just
Prompt 2 – Christmas
You’ve all heard of Christmas. You’ve all heard of Christmas in July. Introducing Christmas in April. Write your best Christmas reverse cinquain.
And cookies and presents and trees
Some milk for Santa Claus
And milk for me–
Prompt 3 – One-Syllable Words
It’s exactly how it sounds. Try to write a reverse cinquain using only one-syllable words. Don’t worry, no one is going to yell at you if you cheat.
eats food once, twice, three times a day
by the time the third meal
is at hand, she
Prompt 4 – Sunrise, Sunset
We’re sticking to the classics today. Write your best reverse cinquain about the sunrise or sunset, or any sun-related content.
the hands of an orange clock move
tick-tock into purple and pink
Prompt 5 – All About Barn Animals
Old MacDonald had a farm full of poetry inspiration.
a barn cat named, oddly, Barn Cat
He never came when called
But always did
Prompt 6 – City, Suburbs, Country
Write a reverse cinquain about where you’re living. If you don’t like where you’re living, write about where you want to move to.
painted yellow and white, reflect
eager sunlight. Glass panes
hot to the touch.
Prompt 7 – Everyone’s a Country Singer
Jot down some phrases you think you might find in a typical country song. Big trucks, cornfields, beer, you name it. It doesn’t have to make sense.
Bud Light harvested in six-packs
Grown from discarded cans
of Bud Light in