December 2004


 Introduction by Deborah P. Kolodji

What is a cinquain? Five lines. Originally, a cinquain was simply this – a stanza or poem of five lines, similar to the definition of a quatrain as a stanza or poem of four lines. This is still the dictionary definition and by this definition, a tanka is also a cinquain.

However, the cinquain as we’ve come to know it, a five line poem with a syllable pattern of 2-4-6-8-2, was developed by the Imagist poet, Adelaide Crapsey, as a result of her studies of metrics and was influenced by her interest in haiku and tanka. Crapsey’s cinquains were also usually iambic in meter.

The cinquain is continuing to evolve today as more and more poets take up the form. Cinquain writers are currently writing in cinquain sequences, crown cinquains (cinquain sequences with five stanzas), mirror cinquains (two stanza cinquain sequences where…

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