Write Short & Share: Lanturne

oak leaves spilling down a waterfall

A new column in preparation for Folded Word’s upcoming panel on short-form poems at the New Hampshire Poetry Festival.

The practice of writing short form poetry can play an important role in your development as a poet, whether or not you like form poems…or even short poems in general. Short forms give you a structure for thinking and writing in new ways. They’re also short enough to be shared on social media, and their brevity gives them a high likelihood of being read.

This week’s featured short form is the lanturne (I’ve also seen it spelled lanterne). The rules for this form are simple:

  • 5 lines
  • Per-line syllabic pattern = 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 1
  • No rhyme scheme
  • No restrictions on title length

And Another Thing

looks like a
Japanese lan-

OK, so I cheated a bit there using a hyphen. But there’s no rule to say you can’t play with a form, even to the point of the final poem being more “inspired by” a form than representing it. My next example is more traditional, embedded on a video clip of the leaves that inspired it. (There’s a volume button in the bottom right corner of the clip if you want to mute/unmute the sound of the waterfall.)

One description of the form I read said that lanturnes are typically written about serious subjects. “November: Lamprey River” may not seem serious at first glance, but did you notice that the leaves churning in the water are oak leaves? Typically in New Hampshire, oak leaves don’t fall until the spring. However last November we had a couple hard frosts followed by an unusual warm spell that lasted through Christmas. Many trees got confused and launched into spring behaviors right before the January snows hit, so there actually is a bit of a nod to the wieghty issue of climate change in the poem…if taken in combination with the video behind it.

Want to give it a go? If you try it and end up with something you’d like to share, please consider submitting it to our poetry zine unFold via the form below. Don’t worry about trying to center the text. Your entry will be automatically be tagged with “lanturne” when you submit it, so we’ll fix it if it’s chosen for publication.

JS Graustein is Folded Word’s Editor in Chief and book designer. She also serves as one of the artists and typographers for unFold‘s new format that creates graphic art with short poems (10 lines or less) and distributes it via social media. With Rose Auslander, she co-edited our anthology On a Narrow Windowsill: Fiction and Poetry Folded onto Twitter.

5 Comments on “Write Short & Share: Lanturne

  1. Enjoyed trying this new form for me – harder than it might seem – but fun too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Write Short & Share: Puente – Folded Word

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