We writers all have different ways of getting into the swing of putting words on paper. Some of us start with timed free-writes, some of us use prompts, some of us spend an hour or three on Twitter, and some of us (lucky ducks) may not need any warm-up at all. I happen to be the type of person who has a whole arsenal of warm-up methods, one of which was suggested to me by my resident poet:
I write cinquains. There’s a whole website dedicated to them, where you can delve deeply into their history and different forms, if you like. Personally, I’m to lazy for that. My brother simply described them to me as poems invented as an English-language answer to the Haiku. Because let’s be honest, haikus really don’t work all that well with our inelegant language. Basically, they are syllabic poems of 5 lines.
Simple as that. I find them useful to get my brain unstuck, since they are so simple and economical. Plus, they can teach a lot about using strong words, and packing as much meaning as you can into a tiny amount of space.
But here’s the thing: They’re just warm-ups. THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO BE ANY GOOD. In fact, I even titled my cinquain notebook “Horrible Cinquains.”
Whatever, it works for me.
Here’s a few of them, just to show you all how horrible they can be, and how fun:
Warm summer night.
Two young people lying
Silent, not touching; too much left
For this we pray
To our God of Plenty
From the depths of desolation.
Wildly after beauty;
Fearing the screaming darkness at
Cinquain with my
For stealing words from Natalie
Are a great place
To cobble all my thoughts
Into strange, lumpty things I call
So there ya have it. If you get inspired to try a few of these, by all means share them with me in the comments section!