Monday, March 2, 2015

Some Resources for the Cinquain

Some Resources for the Cinquain

2015 is the hundredth anniversary of the American Cinquain.  This is the first syllabic form created by a native English speaker.  It was created by the poet Adelaide Crapsey and first appeared in print in 1915 in a posthumously published collection of her poetry.  Since then the Cinquain has slowly spread and there are many poets who have spent time and energy on this form consisting of five lines with the syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2.

From 200 to 2007 there was a magazine devoted to the Cinquain.  It was called ‘Amaze’, which is the title of one of Adelaide’s Cinquain.  There were three people involved in ‘Amaze’.  Deborah Kolodji was a co-founder and editor of the Journal.  Lisa Cohen was another of the co-founders and a regular contributor.  Finally, Denis Garrison was a third co-founder and had the title ‘Editor Emeritus’.  Garrison contributed poems, articles, and reviews.  Garrison was a prolific editor for about a decade.  He also edited and published ‘Modern English Tanka’, a magazine that did a great deal to bring this form to the attention of many poets.

‘Amaze’ was a quarterly journal.  In its last two years, 2006 and 2007, it moved online, giving up the quarterly printed magazine.  At the end of the year Kolodji published all four issues in book format: Amaze: The Cinquain Journal 2006 Annual, and Amaze: The Cinquain Journal 2007 Annual.  Both of these are available from at a reasonable price.

For those who are interested in the Cinquain and how various poets have used the form I highly recommend these two publications.  The bulk of the material consists of Cinquain poems.  Most of the Cinquains are written in the standard form of 2-4-6-8-2.  But there are also variations on the form including Cinquain Sequences, reverse Cinquain (2-8-6-4-2), and other permutations. 

The two volumes contain a wealth of excellent Cinquain by numerous poets.  It is remarkable how consistently high the quality is. 

Both volumes also contain articles about the history of the Cinquain, its esthetic, the influence of Japanese forms on the development of the Cinquain, essays on the prosody of the Cinquain, and reviews of books and poets that are Cinquain centered.  This information is rewarding and adds depth to our understanding of this form.  

It would be a wonderful thing if the other years could also be turned into publications like the 2006 and 2007 Annuals.  I suspect, though, that such a project would be very time consuming.  Fortunately, the earlier issues of Amaze are archived online so that you can access them as well.  You can find them at:

If you have an interest in the Cinquain, in syllabic forms in English, or want to read some really excellent short form poetry, I recommend getting these two annuals.  Go to and search for the following:

Amaze: The Cinquain Journal 2006 Annual
ISSN: 1935-8849

Amaze: The Cinquain Journal 2007 Annual
ISSN: 1935-8849


Anonymous said...

I do hope to create books of the other years, but I do not know when I will have time to do it, so it may be a while before they appear.

I enjoyed the Amaze years. I would love to see it resurrected. If anyone is interested in editing it, please contact me at dkolodji "at" aol "dot" com.

Deborah P Kolodji

Jim714 said...

Thanks, Deborah, for posting your comment. I'm glad to read that you still have an interest in the Cinquain and that, perhaps, at some future point the other years will become available in book format. I am grateful for all the work you put into the cinquain form. I think you encouraged a lot of people and showed others the poetic potential of this jewel.