A new column in preparation for Folded Word’s upcoming panel on short-form poems at the New Hampshire Poetry Festival.
As we mentioned last week, the practice of writing short form poetry can play an important role in your development as a poet because it encourages you to write in new ways. Short poems can also fit comfortably on visual media (if you know how to embed them with photo-editing or movie-making software) which increases their likelihood of being read, and thus helping you develop your poetic network as well as your skill.
This week’s featured short form is the puente, invented by James Rasmusson. The rules for this form are simple:
- 3 stanzas: per-stanza line pattern of x / 1 / x *
- No syllabic pattern
- No rhyme scheme
- No restrictions on title length
The Twist Being
in a puente, the second stanza’s single-line
simultaneously finishes the thought in stanza one
and introduces the thought in stanza three
~like a bridge between two seemingly unrelated worlds~
the small electric train whisks us through the caves
of Rouffignac to a carbon-sketched, finger-etched
*In my examples (both above and below), I chose a stanza length of x = 3 to make sure the poems fit comfortably within social media sharing space, however you can make stanzas 1 & 3 any length you like — so long as they are equal. According to the description of the form that the inventor wrote on Shadow Poetry, the second stanza should begin and end with a tilde (~). I think though, that use of the tilde might depend on the phrasing of the preceding and following stanzas. It may be that in some cases, stanza spacing is all that is needed for a reader to cross the bridge and figure out where they are on the other side. You’ll also notice that in my next example, I substituted ellipses for the tildes because I thought it better fit the visual texture of the scenes in question.
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. Please note that unFold does have a line-length restriction, so your “x” stanzas should only be 2, 3, or 4 lines each if you’re planning to submit. Your entry will be automatically tagged with “puente” when you submit it, so we’ll know how to set the spacing 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.