Write Short & Share: Shadorma

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

As we mentioned last week, writing short form poems can play an important role in your development of a poetic network because they can be easily embedded in visual media and shared online. They also provide bite-sized templates for practicing poetics, much like the scales and arpeggios practiced by musicians.

This week’s featured short form is the shadorma. I couldn’t find any conclusive information on its invention, but the rules for this form seem to be a riff off the simplified English version of the Japanese tanka:

  • 6 lines per stanza
  • Per-line syllabic pattern = 3 / 5 / 3 / 3 / 7 / 5
  • No restrictions on number of stanzas
  • No rhyme scheme or prohibitions against rhyme
  • No restrictions on title length

Like the Tide Rolling In

Shadorma’s
initial lines lap
in short waves
that retract
before the last lines spread out,
engulfing the page.

In my multi-media example below, I split the single stanza into two which fit better visually on the video clip that the lines were embedded on. I tried to make sure the break occurred in a place that made sense from a content standpoint, not just a visual one — especially since the poem was written to have a tanka-like feel. If you play with the form yourself, try single & multi stanza poems with alterations made to one or all stanzas. Just be aware that a single-stanza shadorma will be the easiest to share on social media.

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. Note: unFold’s line-length restrictions mean that we’ll only consider a one-stanza shadorma for publication. Your entry will be automatically tagged with “shadorma” 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.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Debbie says:

    Thank you for explaining the shadorma so well and for the lovely example!

    Like

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