Aug 9, 2013

POETRY FRIDAY: Cinquain Poetry

Thanks to Renee at No Water River for hosting Poetry Friday today!

In fourth grade this past year, my boys learned about cinquain poetry. I hadn’t played with this format in years, so I put it in my “ideas” file to tackle in an upcoming Poetry Friday post. The cinquain is a fun, succinct format that is perfect for kid and adult poets alike, and I am excited to explore it more today—I do love short and sweet poetry, after all!

Basically, a cinquain poem is a five-line poem that spotlights a person, place, or thing. Each line has a prescribed formula and minimal words, which can be helpful for young poets who crave structure in their writing. (As a kid, I loved using outlines for papers and stories, and the whole 5-paragraph essay formula was definitely my friend! I still outline today when writing longer works, but that is a whole other topic that I will post about one day soon...)

The cinquain format also naturally encourages kids to chose their words very carefully, and to *think* of words that really encapsulate their chosen topic. There are several variations of cinquain poetry, but for the purposes of this post I am focusing on the format most commonly found in the elementary curriculum. Here is an example that I came up with, followed by the “recipe” for a cinquain:

hot, sunny
laughing, playing, relaxing
campfires and starry nights

Line #1: a noun/one-word subject

Line #2: two adjectives that describe your subject

Line #3: three verbs that end in –ing related to your subject

Line #4: a phrase about your subject  

Line #5: another noun that is a synonym for your subject
Here is another fun cinquain (yes, I am aware that I sound like an eight-year-old girl here…☺):
playful, sweet
loving, cuddling, romping
my best writing buddy

Have fun trying out this fun format, and Happy Writing!


  1. Hi Becky, Nice to read your cinquain here. I love the cinquain too, although I've never written one in this format. I write mine
    2 4 6 8 2. It's interesting to see this style of cinquain! :)

    1. I will have to do a "Cinquain Part 2" post sometime! The 2 4 6 8 2 format is the earliest cinquain format--I think the poet's name who developed it was Adelaide Crapsey. It is so interesting to me how poetic forms evolve!

  2. Friday
    Long-awaited, cherished
    Sighing, somersaulting, shouting
    Relaxation and rest

    1. I LOVE this, Helen! Thanks so much for sharing your cinquain!!

  3. I was already super tired before seeing the pic of Gracie- but her super comfy pose has really got me yawning now! =)

  4. Great explanation of cinquain! Short and sweet is my motto, too. Like BJ, I'd seen it by syllable, but my daughter learned it in the format you explained. Interesting. =)

  5. I agree, it's a great form for kids! My daughter enjoyed writing cinquains in 5th grade. Here's one of hers:

    Easy, fun
    Expressing, writing, thinking
    I love writing poems.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your daughter's cinquain, Michelle! It is wonderful! = )

  6. I happen to be in Colorado. This was fun.

    yellow, soft
    fooling, shimmering,rushing
    made miners crazy


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