Did You Know…(13)

Lately, I’ve been very intrigued by the cinquain verse and have written quite a few poems in this unique form. You can find my cinquain attempts as well as the innovator of this form at: http://sylviaiswriting.wordpress.com. I had a comment on one of the cinquains I wrote called “Old Boots”, where it was brought to my attention who developed this beautiful verse form.

The American cinquain was developed by Adelaide Crapsey who passed away on October 8, 1914 at the age of 36. She was a Brooklyn New York-born poet who was raised in Rochester New York (Upstate), my neck of the woods. Adelaide was the daughter of Adelaide T. Crapsey and Algernon Sidney Crapsey, an Episcopal priest. Prior to her death, she became reputable and widely recognized for the creative variation of the cinquain (quintain) which consists of a 5-line format with 22 syllables.

This style was largely influenced by the Japanese haiku and tanka. Adelaide’s 5-line form (now know as an American cinquain), has a common iambic meter which translates as one-stress, two stress, three stress, four stress and then reverts promptly back to one stress. This cinquain form usually contains 2 syllables in the 1st and last line, 4,6 and 8 syllables in the middle lines.

*Sidebar: Did you know that world-renowned poet, Carl Sandburg was said to have been the reason for the ongoing interest in the cinquain and kept Adelaide Crapsey from becoming insignificant with his poem “Adelaide Crapsey”? Incidentally, Carl Sandburg and Marilyn Monroe were very good friends. It’s amazing the surprising ways in which people are connected and how close to home these connections sometimes hit.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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