What Is A Small Poem?

The Morehead Writing Project’s Small Poems, Great Writers project is drawing to a close with the end of National Poetry Month. This work began in February and March with three invitations inspired by the #WalkMyWorld Project and a What If project I created for my students in Fall 2021. The Small Poems, Great Writers project includes writers in the Morehead Writing Project community from kindergarten through retirement so there should be something in every invitation to spark your muse. Our invitations were:

After spending weeks freewriting in response to the invitations, our writers from elementary school to retirement, began shaping our words and ideas into small poems.

What is a small poem?

Before we could focus on the length of our poetry, we spent some time exploring its depth by considering just what is a poem by reading and hearing the words of other poets:

But also considering more indirect definitions and descriptions of poetry:

We absorbed all these ideas so we knew what poetry does and is but most importantly to know why poetry exists and why we continue to write poetry great and otherwise.

We chose small poems for several reasons. I am partial to small poems myself. There is something wonderful about a precise concentration of language formed through alchemy and incantation. The experience of crafting small poems is an intense and rewarding activity for writers. We chose to follow this guideline for our short form poetry:

We define short form poetry as anything 9 lines and under, or any poem that uses 60 words or less.


Short Forms

We specifically introduced our writers to these short poetic forms:

  • Haibun
  • Haiku
  • Tanka
  • Sijo
  • Cinquain
  • Nonet
  • Triad
  • Found
  • Micro
  • Shaped

We also offered advice about metaphor and word choice as well as revision, feedback, and critique. I have only seen a fraction of the poetry in progress but it is everything we hoped for and more. When did you last create a short form poem featuring a concrete image linked to a memory or experience? Just write and join the fun.

Image by jplenio from Pixabay