Just like people, poems come in many shapes and sizes. Some, like the epic, are so big they fill an entire book. You may recognize a few titles of epic poems from video games or movies: The Iliad, The Odyssey, or Beowulf. These poems are almost like novels, and tell long stories, often with heroes, battles, and monsters.
Other poems, however, are very small, using only a few words. Small poems – like the haiku and the limerick – are often taught in English classes. In the haiku, we’re taught to paint a mind-picture, usually about nature, using 17 syllables in 3 unrhymed lines. In the limerick, however, we learn to use rhyming words in a five-line pattern to help us make a joke.
But there are some kinds of poems that are even tinier than limericks or haiku. Two of these are hay(na)ku, which uses only 6 words, and quincouplets, which use only 5 words! Sounds pretty simple, huh? Let’s try writing a few of each.
A hay(na)ku is made up of 3 lines (a tercet) with a total of 6 words: 1 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 3 in the third line. You do not have to worry about syllables or stress or rhymes. Here’s a couple of samples:
We miss you.
playing bongo drums.
A quincouplet is made up of 2 lines, with 2 words in the first line and 3 words in the second line, like the following samples:
in lake’s mirror.
no ugly rainbows.
While writing tiny poems is simple in some ways, it can also be difficult. Sometimes you really want to use “just one more word” to make your poem better, but that’s a No, No! You can’t add any words and still play by the poem’s rules. You must think about saying things in different ways in order to find the best words, words that hold the most meaning for your poem. Instead of using two words – light blue – to describe the sky, you may have to use one more specific word – turquoise. (Hint: Don’t be afraid of using a dictionary and a thesaurus as you write these tiny poems. These tiny poems are an excellent way to learn new words and different meanings of old words.)
Now go ahead and practice. Write a bunch of tiny poems – hay(na)ku and quincouplets – and send the best ones to Magic Dragon. We’d love to see your work and might even publish a few of the very best!