How To Write Shadorma

The Shadorma is a poetic form consisting of a six-line stanza (or sestet). Its origins are believed to be from Spain but it is hard to track exactly where and when the form was created.

How To Write Shadorma

How To Write Shadorma

The Shadorma is a poetic form consisting of a six-line stanza (or sestet). Its origins are believed to be from Spain but it is hard to track exactly where and when the form was created. This sestet has a syllable count of three syllables in the first line, five syllables in the second line, three syllables in the third and fourth lines, seven syllables in the fifth line, and five syllables in the sixth line (3/5/3/3/7/5) for a total of 26 syllables. Shadorma is typically unrhymed. Shadorma can be either one stanza of 6 lines or a series of stanzas following the same syllable count.

Rules of the Shadorma:

  1. It is a stanza of 6 lines (sestet)
  2. The syllable count for each line is 3/5/3/3/7/5
  3. It is typically unrhymed
  4. Shadorma can be one sestet or an unlimited number of stanzas, often referred to as a series.

Advantages of the Form

Frankly, the mysteriousness of its origin makes this a fun and unique form to compose in. It has great flexibility due to the unlimited nature of the stanza count. If you want to say a lot, just keep adding sestets. You can compose a shadorma of one stanza or thirty, it’s totally up to you. The syllable count is relatively easy to compose as well. If you can compose a haiku you can easily compose a shadorma. 26 syllables is a relatively generous amount.

Challenges of the Form

This form has it all. It’s hard to nail down its exact challenges. It’s unlimited nature provides a lot of freedom to compose how you need to. The third and fourth lines can be a bit tricky, however. Each one being only 3 syllables provides a tricky transitional period in the poem. This can often be worked around by using one word that is 3 syllables or using both lines to say one thing (see example). Its freedom can also be a confusing factor, though. When there isn’t a set ending or limit of stanzas to a poem it can sometimes be difficult to create a satisfying ending or know when to stop writing.


Prompt 1 – Pull Quotes

This one’s easy. Take a book off your shelf, flip through it, see what words pop out at you, and include them in your poem. Take as many or as few as you’d like! It’s called borrowing, not stealing.


There are some
branches which might scratch
you in the
forest. They’re
just scared, don’t hold it against
them. They’re just trees.

(from Mid-Century French Poets)

Prompt 2 – All About Insects

It’s exactly how it sounds. Write a shadorma about how much you love, hate, or admire any kind of insect.

Example Shadorma:

Where knowledge
is concerned, I’ve found
the best way
one can learn
is to be the dung beetle:
collect everything.

Prompt 3 – Absolute Junk

Looking to my left there’s a scanner. I don’t know why or when this was purchased and I can’t think of a time it was ever used. Write a shadorma about some item you thought you needed and then never used.


My dumbbells
are layered in dust
I have hope
That one day
They will be used for something
Maybe paperweights

Prompt 4 – Life is Madness

There are so many things in life that make you irrationally angry. It makes no sense to hate a coffee table but as soon as I stub my toe against it, he’s enemy number one and I want to smash him in half. Write a shadorma about things that make you irrationally mad.


Open doors
in a house of cats.
Just close them
They will run
and God, they’re faster than me
Just close the door, please.

Prompt 5 – Bad Habits

Breaking bad habits is incredibly hard. It’s just as hard to form new good ones as well. Write a shadorma about your struggle to do either, or both.


This habit
I’m trying to break:
I make food
I eat food
Then, I leave the dishes out
and simply forget

Prompt 6 – Little Treats

Every now and then you just have to treat yourself to a little something special. Doesn’t have to be a big spend or anything crazy; the small things make a big difference.


Each Friday
I have a Dr.
Pepper can,
Ice cold glass,
and a nice, long sit outside.
Do not disturb me

Prompt 7 – Plans

What are your plans for Sunday?


Sleeping in
Maybe take a hike
With the dog
And some friends
I don’t know, not much really
I’ll just be chilling

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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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