Friday, November 08, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Cinquains

I can't write a poem a day in November, of all months. Nor could I (ever?) write a novel in a month. No NaPo(a day)WriMo or NaNoWriMo for me!

But not one to leave ALL the challenges to everyone else, I have challenged myself to write a poem a week. Not just any old poem, I'm going to try writing one inspired by Tricia's Monday Poetry Stretch. This week, the stretch was to write a cinquain, and Tricia totally rescued this form for me. Lo and behold, cinquains were NOT invented to test a writer's knowledge of the parts of speech! They are more like a Japanese tanka, and follow a syllable pattern in the 5 lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2.

It was threatening to rain on Wednesday after school, so I kept the Environmental Club kids close to the building as we gathered gorgeously-colored fallen leaves from the Maples, Sweet Gums, and Bradford Pears out front.

When we brought our treasures inside, I had art supplies ready, and in less than 5 minutes, there was a creative hum in the room as the students tried to capture the beauty of the sky and trees on their paper. Vivaldi's Four Seasons played in the background.

Try to
capture Autumn's
color with paint, collage.
Today's art will be forgotten,
not lost.

Dark sky
Children's laughter
Brilliant colors of fall
Collect beauty strewn by the trees
New art

color against
heavy dark purple skies:
red, gold, green, orange, yellow, brown.
Rain begins.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Diane has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Random Noodling.


  1. Mary Lee,
    My comment disappeared when I clicked Publish, so I'm trying again. Love the art and the resulting cinguains. I want to steal this idea for my class.

  2. Beautiful. We all need to be in your Environmental Club. These children will never forget... xo

  3. Hi, Mary Lee. The first cinquain conjured memories of my mother, a lifelong artist, experimenting with her water color paints.

  4. Our autumn just seems to continue on, doesn't it? We've had unusually good weather and nature's bounty is still not there. I love that you do this, Mary Lee-wonderful art and Love "Collect beauty strewn by the trees"!

  5. Sounds like a peaceful, inspiring time! I think your second cinquain is my favorite :-)

  6. Mary Lee, I love that you played Vivaldi while the kids created. And I'm pleased that you look at a cinquain as more like tanka. I, too, find November a poor choice of a month to engage in an extensive challenge. I like that you scaled it back to fit.

  7. I love the Vivaldi, too, and love that you did this with kids. I want to be one of your students. =) looking forward

  8. Sorry, got cut off . . . Looking forward to seeing you at NCTE!

  9. Good morning! Happy Friday to you and yours. Love the leaves.

  10. One thing leads to another...and here is lovely artwork, poetry, and the continuing joy of Fall. Thank you, Mary Lee - and looking forward to perhaps meeting you at NCTE!

  11. What a lovely way to capture the transient beauty of Autumn -- wish I could be in your Environmental Club too. Enjoyed the cinquains. :)

  12. Yes, I'd like to be in the Environmental Club, too, or at least going to NCTE! Thanks for sharing your poetry and your creative, colorful haven for students.

  13. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Your Environmental Club sounds like a terrific program. The perfect anecdote to busyness! I love the poems your afternoon inspired. You captured "Autumn's color" with your words. Hope to see you at NCTE!

  14. Great activity with lovely results. Vivaldi's Four Seasons is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. I used to play it at rest time for my kindergarten students after encouraging them to listen for the seasons hiding in the music. I'm sure this was a wonderful boost for their creativity. Loved your cinquains, too!

  15. Your club sounds so fun. I want to come. I love this kind of cinquain (the other needs a different name.). The ending of the first one really gets me. Maybe the art will be forgotten but not the experience of really seeing.

  16. I can't say anything, but LOVE! I wish I was right there with them as they created that beautiful artwork that accompanies your magnificent poem.

  17. I know I'm a week late to this party, but I wonder if you saw the lovely cinquain posted on earlier this week? I think it would fit in well with yours:

    November Night
    Adelaide Crapsey

    Listen . . .
    With faint dry sound,
    Like steps of passing ghosts,
    The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
    And fall.


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