Workshop > It's Pantoum Time!
Oct 18

It's Pantoum Time!


Now that you have come up with a theme,  you can begin working with the form. The format is as follows:
(Each stanza consists of four sentences)


This example is taken from a World War II Pantoum:


Remember those who died for us (1)
They did not die in vain. (2)
They gave their lives and their trust (3)
So atrocities of war are never again (4)

They did not die in vain (2)
Wear a poppy each November (5)
So atrocities of war are never again (4)
We must never forget, but remember (6)

Wear a poppy each November (5)
Honour those so brave (7)
We must never forget, but remember (6)
Our freedom they did pave (8)

Honor those so brave (7)
They gave their lives and their trust (3)
Our freedom they did pave (8)
Remember those who died for us (1)



As you can see, a number of the sentences repeat themselves. (Use the numbers next to each line as your guide. When you see a "1," repeat your first line, etc.)  Before beginning, you might want to come up with a first stanza. It is the backbone of the poem. As always, you want to grab the reader's attention. You also want to be clear and concise. This is important whether you are working with form or with free verse. Have fun with this. It might take some rearranging and rewording to make all of your lines work in more than one place. That's part of the fun. It's a puzzle of poem!

Give it a shot.

When beginning a poem (whether it is form based or free verse) I often think of something a great jazz violinist named Stephane Grappelli once said: "You must start well, and you must end well."  He was talking about music, but I think this also applies to good writing.  

I look forward to reading your work. Here's a draft of an original pantoum I began this morning:


Brenda Wilson's eyes made my heart go weak in the knees (1)
She was more beautiful than autumn in Vermont (2)
I sat behind her in Algebra II  (3)
She didn't know I was alive (4)


She was more beautiful than autumn in Vermont (2)
The entire universe was in love with her (5)
She didn't know I was alive (4)
We were a couple in my dreams (6)


The entire universe was in love with her (5)
I dreamed we lived in a castle high above the world (7)
We were a couple in my dreams (6)
I can still see the wind parting her hair (8)


I dreamed we lived in a castle high above the world (7)
I sat behind her in Algebra II (3)
I can still see the wind parting her hair (8)
Brenda Wilson's heart made me go weak in the knees (1)


Feedback: Take a look at what others have posted, and let them know how their poem affected you!