Week Twenty-Nine: The Golden Shovel

Picking Up the Golden Shovel

The Golden Shovel borrows a line (or sometimes many lines) from an existing poem by another poet and uses each word from the existing line(s) as the end word for each line of a new, original poem. This is a great way to give a shout-out to a poet you admire, so always be sure to give credit to the original author!

An Original Golden Shovel

These I Will Keep

after Robert Frost

I’ve always eyed the
path leading into the woods
with curiosity and wonder. Are
the oaks there as lovely,
are the shadows as dark,
as I’ve imagined? And
are the solitudes as deep?

The temptation lingers, but
after everything I
have lost, all I have
left are the promises
I have made to
myself. These I will keep.


Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
The Golden Shovel by Terrance Hayes

The Golden Shovel – Poetry Foundation
Golden Shovel – Writer’s Digest


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Week Twenty-Eight: The Clerihew

Meet the Clerihew

The Clerihew is a funny little form invented by English humorist, poet, and novelist Edmund Clerihew Bentley. These bite-sized biographies are meant to entertain as much as inform the reader.

Key Features

Form: Consists of a single four-line (quatrain) stanza following an AABB rhyme scheme.

Content: Biographical and humorous in tone. The first line states the subject’s name, the following three lines state something surprising or funny about the subject.

A Clerihew by E. C. Bentley

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.

Another Clerihew by Unknown

Did Descartes
With the thought
“Therefore I’m not”?


Four Original Clerihews

Edmund C. Bentley
Penned poems aplenty.
He wrote some good mysteries, too,
But he’s best known for his clerihew.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Really knew how to rock.
His compositions were so clever
They changed music forever.

Senator Bernie Sanders
Speaks with honesty and candor.
And he’s likely our best hope
To dump the orange dope.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Is an athlete down to his chromosomes.
Still he’s nice enough to permit
His teammates to call him Kermit.


Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Clerihew – Wikipedia
What is a Clerihew? – Verse.org


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Week Twenty-Seven: Hay(na)ku

Hay(na)ku Introduction

The hay(na)ku is a newer form that is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s a short form—a three-line poem like the haiku—but unlike that traditional form, words are counted instead of syllables. The hay(na)ku was invented by poet Eileen Tabios. (See links at the end of this post to learn more.)

Key Features

Form: a three-line form (tercet) with one word in the first line, two words in the second line, and three words in the third line. Tercets may be repeated to create a longer work, like in the example below.

Example Hay(na)ku by Rebeka Lembo

Hugo might
have said there

neither bad
seeds nor bad

but bad
raisers; I, however,

believe he
must have never

little hogweeds
in his garden.


Two Original Hay(na)ku


shivering under
a white sky.

When the Boat is on Fire

no time
to argue blame

the boat
is on fire.

must act
with one purpose

we wish
to stay afloat.


Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Hay(na)ku – Writer’s Digest
Hay(na)ku Poetry – Haynakupoetry.blogspot
Hay(na)ku – Eileen R Tabios


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Week Twenty-Six: The Rondeau

Friends and Poetry Lovers,

As I celebrate reaching the halfway mark of this 52-week challenge (whoop!), I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out these posts and show their support by following, liking, and commenting. I created this poetry challenge as a test of my own resolve, willpower, and writing ability, and though I’d still be posting if I hadn’t any followers at all, knowing that there are some folks out there who get enough from it to take the time to interact with my blog is a wonderful feeling.

You may have noticed I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off (due to illness and general holiday busyness) and this will be my last post of 2019. The challenge will pick up right where it left off in January 2020, so please come back and join me in the new year. I hope the end of the year (and the decade!) brings you love and joy, no matter how you choose to celebrate the season.

And now…the main attraction!

Meet the Rondeau

The word rondeau derives form the French rond,  meaning “round,” and, indeed, it is a form that turns round and round. The rondeau originated in Provencal poetry in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The term originally included various short poetic forms. The current form was fixed toward the end of the fifteenth century and became especially popular in French poetry.                   
– Edward Hirsch, A Poet’s Glossary 

Key Features

Form: Consists of fifteen lines in two or three stanzas and a refrain that is introduced in line 1 and repeats in lines 10 and 15

Rhyme: Follows a unique rhyme scheme

Meter: Often written in iambic tetrameter



“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!


An Original Rondeau

The Fix Was In

The Fix was in right from the start.
They wrote the script, assigned the parts,
Then hired a team to advertise,
To teach to want, each worthless prize
A meal designed to slowly starve.

We work to live; our lives are hard.
Our hands are strong, but marked with scars,
And long before we realized
The Fix was in,

They dulled our minds and tamed our hearts.
We fell in line, we pushed the cart
Through crowded aisles, half mesmerized.
And on we’ll play, the stakes will rise,
not knowing as we fold our cards
The Fix was in.


Want to Learn More? Start Here:

A Poet’s Glossary – Edward Hirsch
Rondeau – Writer’s Digest
We Wear the Mask – Poetry Foundation
Rondeau – Wikipedia
Rondeau – Poets.org


Come back next year for part two
of the Fifty-Form Poetry Challenge!

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Week Twenty-Five: The Chanso


The Chanso (also sometimes called the Canso) poetic and song form was popular with the French troubadours in the second half of the 13th century. When reading about the chanso, you’ll likely run into the following terms, which I’ve broken down below for clarification.


Chanso: A poetic and song form used by the troubadours
Canso: Another name for the chanso form
Chanson: A lyric-driven French song
Canzone: An Italian variation of the chanso form


On the Forest Moon, by Robert Lee Brewer

“3PO! Come in, 3PO! 3PO! Where could he be?”
-Luke Skywalker

With all the things I have been through,
I thought it must be obvious–
the odds good you already knew–
like R2 I’ve grown mischievous

and abandoned Jedi and Sith
for a vacay with my Ewoks,
who love to hear me spin a myth
and always listen when I talk.

Not that I hate on Master Luke,
though I could do without that Han,
who’s quick to give a tough rebuke
every time things don’t go to plan.

It’s just I don’t like being shot
or getting pulled into pieces.
After all, I’m not a robot
when I’ve got telekinesis,

or at least, that’s what Ewoks think
as they sing “yub-yub” on their moon,
which was once on the very brink
of the Empire’s galactic doom.

So look and you’ll find me no more:
I’ll be the droid you’re looking for.

Requirements of the Form


– Consists of four or five stanzas of equal length, followed by a half-stanza (known as an envoy or tornada) which is identical in structure to the second half of the preceding stanza


– Poet’s choice, but historically written as a love song
– The first stanza usually introduces the topic of the poem
– The envoy often features a summation of the themes explored in the previous stanzas


– Poet’s choice, but each line of the poem should contain the same number or syllables


– Poet’s choice, but should be consistent from stanza to stanza, excepting the envoy, which usually ends in a couplet

Requirement Breakdown

Example of a Chanso in Five Stanzas

[Stanza 1] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ab rhyme
[Stanza 2] 4 lines, 8 syllables, cd rhyme
[Stanza 3] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ef rhyme
[Stanza 4] 4 lines, 8 syllables, gh rhyme
[Stanza 5] 2 lines, 8 syllables, ii rhyme

An Original Chanso

What Happens Now

What happens now is important:
a journey of a thousand miles,
a heroic test of fortune,
will carry you across the isles

of fear and imagination,
of suffering and beauty found
interwoven through creation,
like the moon’s pull on the tide, bound

inextricably together.
Don’t scar the earth mining for gold;
the cave within holds the treasure
so often sought, but never sold,

and never bought at any price,
though you’ll find many dishonest
men advertising otherwise.
Your actions now are a promise;

Your choices now fashion your fate—
Choose courage now; it’s not too late.

Links to Online Resources

Canso – Wikipedia
Chanso: Poetic Form – Writer’s Digest
Chanso – Poets Collective


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Week Twenty-Four: The Gogyohka


The Japanese love their five-line forms. (I love them too!) The word Gogyohka (sometimes written Gogyōka in English) translates literally from Japanese to mean “five-line form.” An unnamed version of the form has existed at least since the early 1900s, but the popularity of the form today is largely credited to poet Enta Kusakabe who developed and trademarked the gogyohka in 1983 as a freer adaptation of the tanka form.

A Gogyohka by Enta Kusakabe

What kind of
stained glass
have your
rose-coloured cheeks
passed through

                                          Enta Kusakabe

Five rules of Gogyohka
by Enta Kusakabe*

  • Gogyohka is a new form of short poem that is based on the ancient Japanese Tanka and Kodai kayo.
  • Gogyohka has five lines, but exceptionally may have four or six.
  • Each line of Gogyohka consists of one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.
  • Gogyohka has no restraint on numbers of words or syllables.
  • The theme of Gogyohka is unrestricted.
    *from Wikipedia

Three Original Gogyohka


The autumn sunset
the prairie moon
the astounding things
the eyes can do
with light


In arctic silence
even an echo
of a heartbeat
can become
an avalanche


Don’t stack up
your worry
against the frost
you’ll wither without
that winter sun

Links to Online Resources

Gogyohka – Writer’s Digest
Gogyohka – 5gogyohka.com
Gogyōka – Wikipedia
What is a Gogyohka? – Thanet Writers


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Week Twenty-Three: The Villanelle


This 19th century French form uses the circular, controlled repetition of a refrain to allow repeated lines to take on new meaning as the poem progresses. The pastoral elements found in the Italian folk songs that traditionally inspired the form have been stripped away and the topics explored in the modern villanelle now vary greatly. Popular modern villanelles include Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” and Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” (shared below).

Painting by Ferdinand Chaigneau [fr], 19th century. Wikimedia.

Villanelle Example

Although Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” is likely the most widely-known modern villanelle (and one I love and admire), I personally have an equal—perhaps even greater—response to Roethke’s 1953 work, “The Waking.”

The Waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   
To you and me; so take the lively air,   
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   
What falls away is always. And is near.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

Requirements of the Form

Requirements adapted from The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland.


– Consists of five stanzas of three lines (tercets), followed by a four-line stanza (quatrain) for a total of nineteen lines

– The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas

– The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas

– These two refrain lines follow each other to become the penultimate (second-to-last) and final lines of the poem

~Don’t worry, I’ll break it down for you in a moment~


– Traditional villanelles often featured a pastoral setting

– Modern villenelles are free from thematic restrictions


aba pattern, with rhymes repeated according to the refrains


– No requirement, though you’ll find some modern examples (like Roethke’s above) are written in iambic pentameter


Some modern interpretations of the form allow for some variation in the refrain. For examples of this, see Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art”.

Requirement Breakdown

1. A1  (refrain)
2. b
3. A2 (refrain)

4. a
5. b
6. A1  (refrain)

7. a
8. b
9. A2  (refrain)

10. a
11. b
12. A1  (refrain)

13. a
14. b
15. A2  (refrain)

16. a
17. b
18. A1 (refrain)
19. A2 (refrain)

An Original Villanelle

Bird by Bird [a Villanelle]

I write to write and see my mind in words.
I fear not dullness nor avoid mistake.
I write to write and take it bird by bird.

Ideas they flow though often quite absurd;
These visions form and dream-filled pictures make.
I write to write and see my dreams in words.

But how, you ask, can one with eyes obscured
By sleep-drunk thoughts be made to spring awake?
I write to wake and take it bird by bird.

Although it’s true I’m less than self-assured,
And my neglected voice is sure to shake;
I write to heal and grow through shaking words.

And my unpracticed voice may well be heard,
But I fear not that I’ll be found a fake.
I write to live and see my life in words.
I write to write and take it bird by bird.

A Note on My Original Villanelle

My villanelle is inspired by Anne Lamott’s wonderful guide to writing and the creative life, Bird by Bird. I took a page from Roethke’s book and challenged myself to write my villanelle in iambic pentameter. I also took a page from Bishop’s book and added some variation to the refrain for added impact.

Links to Online Resources

Villanelle – Writer’s Digest
Villanelle – Wikipedia
The Villanelle, a French Form – Washington Post

Print Resources

The Making of a Poem – Mark Strand and Eavan Boland
A Poet’s Glossary – Edward Hirsch
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott


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Week Twenty-Two: The Haibun


The Haibun features a fascinating paring of prose poetry and haiku. It was invented and popularized by 17th century Japanese master poet Matsuo Bashō. The prose and haiku of the haibun are often in communication with each other in direct or subtle ways.

Haibun Example

LAKE SADDLEBAG by marie a. mennuto-rovello

I walk the north end of the lake this time every summer. Listen to the murky green waters slap up against the weather beaten dock. In the distance, the sound of children skinny dipping.

from a navy sky
sound of cicadas calling
full moon on the rise

Requirements of the Form


– Titled, unlike traditional haiku

– Begins with a small number of short paragraphs (typically one to three) written in prose poetry style

– Ends with a traditional haiku that reflects or is in some relationship with the introductory prose poem


Common elements and themes include:
– Strong sense of place through natural imagery and sensory detail
– Travel or sense of journey
– Autobiographical elements
– Economy of language
– Sense of presence and immediacy typically found in haiku
– Haiku follows other rules typically found in form

Syllable Count

– For the haiku, syllables needn’t be counted 5-7-5 as in the English Haiku. Rather, aim for a short first line, followed by a longer line, ending with another short line. This approach more closely reflects the spirit of the traditional Japanese form.

An Original Haibun

October 28, 2019 [a haibun]

October is ending. The blazing reds of the sugar maple have begun to yellow. I stand at the front window, still in my bathrobe though noon approaches, still fighting a cold with rest and medication. A small grey cat brushes against my leg and then the curtain. Beside her, a fat tabby dozes on a quilt on a rocking chair. Beside the rocking chair, a wastebasket full of crumpled tissues waits to be emptied.

I refill my coffee mug, warming my hands with it as I return to the window. The leaves on the lawn are beginning to brown, reminding me of the promise to rake. Last year we let them lay and they choked the irises. At the feeder, only the occasional finch returns. The water in the birdbath is not yet frozen.

October ends
orange leaves and white snowflakes 
fall together

Links to Online Resources

Haibun – Wikipedia
Haibun Poems – Writer’s Digest
Matsuo Bashō – Wikipedia
A Closer Look at Writing Haibun – Poets.org
Haiku – Wikipedia


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Week Twenty-One: The Clogyrnach

Oh, those plucky Welsh forms with their fun names, lively musicality, strict syllable restrictions and internal rhymes. The Clogyrnach is the third Welsh form so far in this challenge (after the gwawdodyn and the cywydd llosgyrnog) and is just as challenging as its fellow forms.

Requirements of the Form

Like many other Welsh forms, there are no restrictions in content or meter, but there are various other requirements that must be adhered to rather strictly.


– Consists of any number of six-line stanzas (sestets)

Syllable Count

– Lines 1 and 2 contain eight syllables 
– Lines 3 and 4 have five syllables 
– Lines 5 and 6 have three syllables each


-End rhymes (lines 1-6): aabbba


– There is a five-line variation* of the Clogyrnach which combines lines 5 and 6. (see below for details)

Requirement Breakdown


*Form Variation*


An Original Clogyrnach


I love the autumn’s red and gold,
but every fall I catch a cold.
So, I’m stuck in bed
with a stuffy head
until the meds take hold.

I long to stroll beneath the trees
breathing in the October breeze.
Buried in tissues
with sinus issues,
I achoo, cough and wheeze.

Lost leaves scattered across the ground,
pillows piled in a high white mound;
not what I would call
an awesome time, ya’ll.
Love of fall’s got me down.

Links to Online Resources

Clogyrnach – Writer’s Digest
Clogyrnach – Popular Poetry Forms


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Week Twenty: Acrostic Poetry


An Acrostic poem uses the first letter of each line to spell a word or name central to the theme of the poem. Acrostics have been used in literature and poetry for many hundreds of years. Even today, they are commonly used as mnemonic devices to aid in memory retention and retrieval.

Form Example

“An Acrostic” by Edgar Allan Poe:

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
Love not”—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breath it less gently forth—and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love—was cured of all beside—
His follie—pride—and passion—for he died.


An Original Acrostic Poem

Trump – An Acrostic

Dangerous Delusions Direct this
Obnoxious, Obstinate, Orange
Narcissist. Negligence and an
Arrogant Aggression define this
Loud-mouthed Liar, this
Destructive Dimwit whose
Twitter Temper-Tantrums
Repel all but Repugnant Racists.
Unite against this Unwelcome,
Manipulative Misogynist, this
Pussy-grabbing Pig.

Links to Online Resources

Acrostic – Wikipedia
Acrostic Poems & Poetry – Writer’s Digest


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