Cinquain Day 2012
Today is Cinquain Day; a day set aside to express our appreciation for the Cinquain. This form is also known as the Crapsey Cinquain or the American Cinquain. It is the creation of the poet Adelaide Crapsey, 1878 – 1914.
The Cinquain is a five-line form: 2-4-6-8-2, for a total of 22 syllables. It is the first syllabic form that I know of created in an English language context. My own experience with the form is that it is a difficult form to master. It is the final 2-syllable line that often vexes the poet. It is crucial to get that last line just right. But when it is done right the Cinquain has a strong sense of closure and cadence; that 2-syllable ending can feel like a perfect frame around a picture, or the final brushstroke of a painting.
The Cinquain has developed a small, but loyal, following. There are forums for this form, poets who specialize in it, and it seems to have found its way into the school curriculum. Some teachers I know have told me that in grade school when they teach a poetry unit to young students the Cinquain is one of the forms that they use.
So on this day let’s acknowledge our appreciation for this jewel of a form. You might read some Cinquain, or perhaps compose one of your own. Give it a try; you’ll find it is a challenge and a delight.