Beyond Poetry


A Poem: A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme.

Prose: Prose is a term applied to any kind of discourse that is not poetry. This term usually, but not always, refers to written rather than spoken language.

It may be easier to define prose by examining how it differs from poetry: the distinctions between the two are most evident in the structure. Prose does not have a rhythmical construction like most poetry, nor does it utilize the specific line breaks associated with verse. It does not require the use of rhyming words at the end of lines, and it is does not employ the brevity and economical use of words for which poetry is often known.

There are some elements of poetry, however, that prose does utilize. These elements include the use of metaphor, the comparison of two unlike objects, and alliteration the use of similar sounds at the beginning of words. Prose can also employ imagery, a term for the use of specific details that help to create the concrete visual world in the mind's eye. Imagery is like a painting made out of words.

From the Latin words prosa oratio, which mean "direct speech," prose is the dominant form in literature. It the accepted mode of writing for novels, short stories, plays and folk tales. 

Poetry: The poetic works of a given author, group, nation, or kind.

The Eintou: An African American septet syllabic/word count form consisting of 2 words/syllables the first line, 4 the second, 6 the third, 8 the fourth, 6 the fifth, 4 the sixth, and 2 the seventh. The Eintou developed as a means of placing African American poetic forms in the forefront of American poetry. Many African American poetic scholars and critics often attempt to mimic Euro-American forms as a means of demonstrating poetic expertise, or defensively, staunchly stand by "free-verse" as an African American form. It's rare to see serious examination of African American poetic forms; in fact most critics erroneously regard African American poetry as "formless" or "mimicking."

The time has come for a form that, while encompassing the strategies of blues and jazz, bounds beyond them into an embodiment of all that we have become as African Americans; a form that frees us from the dialectical restrictions and mere grammatical and spelling distortions of current performance poetry ("postmodern," though some may claim it to be, notwithstanding); a form that allows us to express the diversity of our "highest emotions and aspirations" while not losing any of our racial flavor (imagery, idioms, peculiar turns of thought, humor and pathos).  I believe the Eintou answers that call!

The Eintou encompasses much African American culture and philosophy, and it offers the African American poet who wishes to write in structured meter an avenue within which to do so without having to employ European structures. The term Eintou is West African for "pearl" as in pearls of wisdom, and often the Eintou imparts these pearls in heightened language.

The 2-4-6-8-6-4-2 structure of the Eintou is crucial in terms of African and African American philosophy. That is, in our culture, life is a cycle. Everything returns to that from which it originates. The concept of a pearl, which is a sphere, and the cyclic nature of the Eintou's structure captures this very poignantly. The life of the Eintou begins with two syllables or words, expands as though growing and then returns to two syllables or words. In this the Eintou, as we, never escapes its beginnings or history. We flow from, through, and ultimately return to that from which we come.

Haiku: is a very short poetic form: Traditional Japanese haiku consisted of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 units which generally corresponded to syllables. They also contained a special season word the kigo descriptive of the season in which the haiku was set. Some say that a haiku must also combine two different images, be written in present tense, have a focus on description and have a pause (the kireji or "cutting word") at the end of either the first or second line. All such rules are based in the Japanese language and literary tradition and are habitually broken by most poets, especially when adapted for languages other than Japanese (where they can seem arbitrary).

Few modern English haiku poets use the 5-7-5 syllables rule, which is often taught in schools. The 5-7-5 practice produces a haiku much longer than a traditionally composed haiku in Japanese, as the Japanese do not count syllables as they are defined in English, but instead count morae (singular mora), or phonetic units of the language. Morae are generally shorter than the average of English syllables which are highly variable in length. Also contributing to the change in length is the fact that one character particles are used in Japanese grammar to designate parts of a sentence as well as possessives. While the former use is often left implicit in his compact form, the possessive marker "no" can often be found even in haiku and counts as a mora even though it is not a word per se.


In Acrostic poems, the first letters of each line are aligned vertically to form a word. The word often is the subject of the poem.


Balancing on the wind
Utterly graceful and free
Totally aware of the currents
Tightrope walking a delicate stem
Every flower a beacon
Reaching deep to the sweetness
Flying on to the next one
Leaving no sign of its visit
Yellow pollen now carried along


Each line of a Five W's Poem answers one of the 5 W's (who? what? when? where? why?)


The Monarch Butterfly
Makes its long voyage
Each fall or spring
To Mexico and back
To follow the call of intuition


Diamond Poetry--When centered this poem will take the form of a diamond:

Butterfly (one word)
soaring, gliding (two words)
passionate, focused, lilting (three words)
bright, colorful (two words)
butterfly (one word)

There are several rhyming poetry forms.


Couplets are poems with two rhyming lines:
                  Butterfly flitting by

                  Your delicate wings were made to fly                                         

Triplets have three rhyming lines:

                  If I could follow the butterflies
                  I'd feel the wind that fills the skies
                  Both day and night and feel its sighs

Combinations use a variety. For example, every line may rhyme with a couplet at the end.

Limericks are fun poems that combine a couplet with a triplet. (See above).  These are fun poems that combine a couplet with a triplet.

Lines 1, 2  & 5 rhyme with each other. Lines three and four rhyme.

                                   What is a limerick, Mother?
                                 It's a form of verse, said brother
                                   In which lines one and two
                                Rhyme with five when it's through
                            And three and four rhyme with each other.

A Phrase Poem states an idea with a list of phrases.


Cinquain poetry includes five lines:


Butterflies (names object)
delicate, agile (two adjectives or describing words)
fluttering, flying, lighting (three-ing verbs, or action words)
make me feel wistful (describe how you feel)
Lepidoptera (rename object)



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