The following comes from Brave Writer's Playing With Poetry online class taught by our very own Susanne Barrett.
A Cinquain is a five-lined poem (hence the name!) and is a favorite poetic form for many kids because, as one of our Brave Writer students pointed out: “They are easy and fun to write and they don’t require a whole lot of words!” They also reinforce some basic grammatical parts of speech.
Format for Writing a Cinquain
Line 1: One word (a noun, the subject of the poem)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives that describe the subject in line 1)
Line 3: Three words (-ing action verbs–participles–that relate to the subject in line 1)
Line 4: Four words (a phrase or sentence that relates feelings about the subject in line 1)
Line 5: One word (a synonym for the subject in line 1 or a word that sums it up)
Alternative Line 5 for older poets: Five words (a phrase or sentence that further relates feelings about the subject in line 1)
Sometimes each line is centered to create a diamond or tree-like shape.
Here’s a Cinquain off the top of my head
Writing, composing, describing
Best words, best order
For older and/or more practiced students, the precise syllables for the cinquain should be observed, following the directions above for relating to the subject of the poem in the first line:
Line 1: two syllables
Line 2: four syllables
Line 3: six syllables
Line 4: eight syllables
Line 5: two syllables (alternative line: ten syllables)
Students may capitalize all the words, none of the words, the first words of each line, or just certain words. And each poem may be capitalized differently, depending on its subject matter, diction (word choice), etc. Just see which way feels the best to you for each poem. Also, slight variations of syllables are okay.
Here’s another Cinquain poem by Dawn Slanker
Loving, Playing, Guarding
Best friend of man
So read Cinquain poems for a Poetry Teatime. And maybe write a few of your own!