Writing Tips

How to Write a Pantoum Poem



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"How to Write a Pantoum Poem"
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A pantoum poem is a fun format to play with. It looks like it is hard to do , but in actuality it is not. It follows a rhythmic pattern and is very easy to follow. The pantoum uses four line stanzas, where you repeat lines throughout. Lines 2 and 4 of a stanza becomes lines 1 and 3 of the next. Using this form is what gives the poem it's rhythmic quality. Here's how you do it.

1. Write a four-line stanza. Use your imagination, try to make the lines emotional. Just like with any other poem let the words take over.

2. Take lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza and put them down as lines 1 and 3 of the next.

3. Finish the second stanza, by creating the missing lines that connect 1 and 3.

4. Repeat the pattern. Take lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza and make them 1 and 3 of the third. Do this until you have completed the pantoum.

5. At the final stanza, go back to the beginning. You now use the two lines that haven't been repeated yet. Lines 1 and 3 of the first stanza. To close the poem make line 3 the second line of the final stanza, and make line 1 the final line of the poem.

This final step brings the poem full circle. Another variation of the final step is to put lines 1 and 3 in their original order in the final stanza, and having 3 be the end of the poem. Both versions work well and it is best to use the method that suits you.

A lot of writers will say that for the best effect go for a minimum of five to seven stanzas, and I would agree with that. The pantoum isn't very effective for telling a story, but  it can be appropriate for very emotional subject matter.

Another tip is number each line. For example :

1
2
3
4

2
5
4
6

5
7
6
8
(etc. etc. )

That way you basically have a map of where the lines go. This makes it easier to create the pantoum.

Here's an example of a pantoum  I wrote.

In The Dark

A man outside my window
The cat meowed and purred
I kneel by the fire
The darkness comes soon

The cat meowed and purred
She walked between my legs
The darkness comes soon
The stars will guide my way

She walked between my legs
She ran into the house
The stars will guide my way
I walk the beaten path

She ran into the house
Hiding away from me
I walk the beaten path
Stone, sand, and shell

Hiding away from me
The man peeks out
Stone, sand and shell
I stumble to the ground

The man peeks out
He hides behind the tree
I stumble to the ground
I'm running out of steam

Night turns to day
I kneel by the fire
Tapping at the glass
A man outside my window

More about this author: Christopher Lane

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