3 Poetic Forms You Might Not Have Heard Of

3 Poetic Forms You Might Not Have Heard Of

You’ve done it! You’ve found yourself some quiet time and you’re wondering what you should be writing about. You’ve dipped your toes in form writing before, but you want to try something new, or old rather, something a bit more ambitious than the well-treaded sonnet. Well, if you’re feeling brave enough to try out one of the many received forms from years passed, you might implore one of these three French and Italian forms with rich history. 


The rondeau was traditionally a lyric and song writing form originating in the 14th and 15th century in medieval France. The musical form consisted of four stanzas, the first and last stanzas being identical, and the second half of the second stanza being a short refrain which had as its text the first half of the first stanza. As the rondeau became older, the number of lines within each stanza grew longer. 

The lines were later abbreviated to fifteen lines when nineteenth century English poets adopted the form. The stanzaic structure also evolved to begin with a rhyming quintet, followed by a quatrain, and a sestet. The refrains were shortened at the end of the second and third stanzas leaving in its place a “rentrement”, or re-entry, of the opening words, creating a desirable change of meaning in this line from where it had been seen earlier in the piece. 

Rhyme Scheme (R being the rentrement): aabba aabR aabbaR


We Wear the Mask

Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906)

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties

Why should the world be over-wise

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see up, while

We wear the mask

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!



Another French form from the thirteenth century, the triolet is an eight lined rhyming poem. The first triolets from their inception were devotional poems authored by notable names like Patrick Carey, a Benedictine monk. It was also reintroduced and became popular among late nineteenth century British poets. It is another great poem to play on shifted meaning using the nature of the repeated lines encouraged by this form.

Rhyme Scheme (the capital letters mark repeated lines): ABaAabAB


Mourning Twilight

Mary Ellen Clark, published in 2003

In response triolet to James Joyce “She Weeps Over Rahoon”

Embrace twilight and bid farewell

to passion’s warmth and sweet caress.

A grave’s prepared where she will dwell

embrace twilight and bid farewell.

O hear the mourning of her bell

that tolls for sorrows you supress  

embrace twilight and bid farewell

to passion’s warmth and sweet caress.


Terza Rima 

Invented by the poet Dante Alighieri from Italy, and used in his epic poem “The Divine Comedy” (further reading), the terza rima is a rhyming form consisting of tercets, there are no limits to the number of lines this form can have. Terza Rima is typically written in iambic line. An interesting dilemma English poets have run into while trying to write their own terza rimas is that there are fewer rhyme possibilities found in English than there are in the Italian language and so, many writers have used near and slant rhymes in their work under this form. 

Rhyme Scheme: aba, bcb, cdc, ded

To sum up the form’s rules – a passage from poetry resource poets.org“The end-word of the second line in one tercet supplies the rhyme for the first and third lines in the following tercet. Thus, the rhyme scheme (aba, bcb, cdc, ded) continues through to the final stanza or line”


Terzanelle: Manzanar Riot

Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan, published in 2008

This is a poem with missing details, 

of ground gouging each barrack’s windowpane,

sand crystals falling with powder and shale,

where silence and shame make adults insane.

This about a midnight of searchlights,

of ground gouging each barrack’s windowpane,

of syrup on rice and a cook’s big fight.

This is the night of Manzanar’s riot.

This is about a midnight of searchlights,

a swift moon and a voice shouting, Quiet!

where the revolving searchlight is the moon,

and children line still to use the latrines.

This is a poem with missing details,

children wiping their eyes clean of debris—

sand crystals falling with powder and shale.


Now that you know a bit more, what do you think of these forms? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the blogger:

KYRIN STURDIVANT is a Creative Writing major and English minor in his final year of undergrad at Hamline University. Kyrin is a writer of poetry, fiction, and screenplays and enjoys practicing dance in his free time.

Perfect Songs For Those Nice Moments in Every Book

Perfect Songs For Those Nice Moments in Every Book

Perfect Songs For Those Nice Moments in Every Book

Have you ever read a scene from a book, and instantly knew what the perfect background song would be? Have you ever watched a scene from a television show or movie, and the background music helped strengthen the emotions you were already experiencing? Here are a few songs that can perfectly describe those nice moments in every book:

  • When Two Vampires Finally Admit Their Feelings For Each Other

Song: “False God” by Taylor Swift

“But we might just get away with it/ Religion’s in your lips/ Even if it’s a false god/ We’d still worship/ We might just get away with it/ The altar is my hips/ Even if it’s a false god”

Taylor Swift has been known for her ability to write heart-wrenching lyrics and catchy melodies, and her song “False God” perfectly encapsulates the feeling of two sexy, ancient supernatural beings falling in love after thousands of years of being in solitude. 

Book To Read: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

  • When the Hero Finally Faces off Against the Supervillain

Song: “Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy

“’Cause you’re the last of a dying breed/ Write our names in the wet concrete/ I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me/ I’m here in search of your glory.”

With narrative lyrics set against energizing pop-rock instrumentals, “Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy is the perfect song to make an epic final battle even more exciting. 

Book To Read: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

  • When The Protagonist Finally Gets Over Their Ex

Song: “Over You” by HOLYCHILD

Come on, girl, your life just started/ Don’t waste time so brokenhearted/ If it’s done then he’s not the one (he’s not the one)/ Once upon a time you parted/ Soon you’ll know the ancient garden/ You’re a flower, you are the sun”

The lyrics of “Over You”  mixed with the cheerful and upbeat instrumentals describe exactly what it feels like to get over an ex, while trying to be happy and carefree at the same time. 

Book to Read: History is all You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Do you have a go to song that you listen to while you read? What about a playlist? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet the blogger:

KIRA PAUL is a senior at Hamline University majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in English and Criminology. When they’re not doing homework, you can find them nose-deep in YA Fiction or catching up on gaming streams on Twitch.

4 Spooky Storytelling Podcasts to Get into the Halloween Spirit

4 Spooky Storytelling Podcasts to Get into the Halloween Spirit

Podcasts have become an extremely popular source of entertainment over the last few years, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Busy writers rejoice! Podcasts, like audio books, are an excellent way to hear the words of writers all over the world while working, exercising, or just during your daily commute. Plus, many podcasts are produced by independent artists, meaning just listening and dropping a review can be a big deal for these content creators.

To get into the spirit (pun intended) of the Halloween season, here is a list of four of the spookiest, creepiest, spine-chilling-est podcasts produced in a storytelling format.

  1. Lore

Written, recorded, and produced by the one and only Aaron Mahnke, Lore is a twice-monthly podcast featuring historical stories with a dark twist. From lake monsters, to UFOs, to specters and the Spiritualism movement, if it’s creepy, chances are Lore has featured it. With a backlog of over 150 episodes, there’s more than enough content to get you through October. Each episode clocks in at about 30 minutes on average, and features Aaron’s soothing voice along with a pleasantly spooky soundtrack.

If you’ve already listened and you’re hungry for more, Lore is also a book series, as well as a TV series with two seasons on Amazon Prime. In addition, Aaron Mahnke’s audio production company Grim & Mild has a host of other podcasts made in the same vein as Lore, such as American Shadows, Noble Blood, and the bite-sized version of Lore, Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Check out Lore and all the other Grim & Mild shows at the production company’s website.

Must-Listen Lore Episodes:

Episode 17: Broken Fingernails

Episode 54: Teacher’s Pet

Episode 115: Perspective


  1. Snap Judgement Presents: Spooked

This haunting podcast is especially exciting because it features stories from listeners of the podcast all over the world. Hosted by Glynn Washington, each episode of Spooked features one or two real-life tales about the supernatural, as well as the occasional creepy anecdote from silky-voiced host Glynn to set the tone. Spooked stands out in this list as the only podcast told by more than one voice, which guarantees that each episode will be a unique experience.

Featuring tales of demonic possession, haunted homes, and ghostly apparitions, it’s impossible to forget that all stories are purported to be 100% true. Backed by a track of spine-chilling original scores, Spooked is definitely a show you’ll want to listen to with the lights on! You can check out Spooked and all five of its seasons on the WNYC Studios website.

Must-Listen Spooked Episodes:

The Shadow Men

The Iron Gate

Under The Stairs


  1. Haunted Places

Graveyards, churches, and hospitals – oh my! Haunted Places takes us to all of the most (surprise) haunted places around the world through multiple modes of storytelling, including a rundown of the location’s history, as well as original third- and first-person tales, all told by host Greg Polcyn. Each episode delves deep down into the dark places that inhabit our world, accompanied by the ambient sounds of wind and owls hooting, as well as unique music in every installment. 

There are over 170 episodes so far, with the show having started in 2017, and no indication that it will be stopping anytime soon. In addition, Haunted Places offers episodes of a bonus series, Urban Legends, released on Spotify for free every Thursday. With featured tales such as Bloody Mary, the Goatman, and Slenderman, this sister series is also a must-listen. Check out Haunted Places on the Parcast website.

Must-Listen Haunted Places Episodes:

The Catacombs of Paris

Villisca Axe Murder House

Waverly Hills Sanatorium


  1. Limetown

Unique to this list, Limetown is the only podcast told completely as a story. It’s a horror mockumentary brought to the radio, and the first season is spectacular (the jury’s still out on the second season; some people love it, others loathe it). Fictional journalist Lia Haddock reports on the city of Limetown, a small town in Tennessee where over 300 men, women, and children mysteriously disappeared practically overnight, never to be heard from again. Until now (cue spooky music).

Limetown is a binge-worthy series, with the first season containing 6 hour-long episodes as well as short mini updates which add to the feeling that this tale is real. The story is immersive, interesting, and brilliantly told, and will leave you hungering for more of the Limetown mystery after finishing each episode. Listen now at the Two-Up website.

Must-Listen Limetown Episodes:

All of them! Limetown is a story told consecutively, so make sure to start with Episode 1!

Meet the blogger:

MADELEINE WICK is a senior at Hamline University, working on her BFA in creative writing. She’s an aspiring podcaster and writer, and unsurprisingly, likes to write about podcasts. 


Finding Inspiration in Your Own Photographs

Finding Inspiration in Your Own Photographs

No matter how prolific a writer you are, we all run into moments where we need a little extra inspiration. 

Here are some tips on how to use your own photographs to inspire all elements of storytelling, from mood to setting to character and beyond. There are plenty of articles about how to find inspiration for your writing and look outside yourself, but using your own photos as a reference is a unique way to find inspiration inside yourself while still removing yourself from the piece of writing at hand. I know this is certainly a method that has helped me a great many times. 

  • Write the true story of the photo, the details of the moment(s) preceding or following. Or, perhaps a close look and write a description of the elements in the frame.


  • If you had to use one word to describe the photo, what would it be? Use that word as the theme for a story.


  • Zoom in close on parts of the photo or crop sections as small or large as you like. Don’t be afraid to cut to random sections, don’t overthink it. How does the energy of these sections of the photograph differ from the original photograph? Write a character that has the same emotional presence as each of the cropped or zoomed sections, then write them into the scene of the original photograph.  


  • Write a character into the scene. You were there for the photo, you took it, or maybe you’re even in it. How might you imagine another character would have behaved in that moment? 


  • Zoom out: you know what’s happening in the frame, now tell us what’s happening around it? What can’t we see? What terrors or joys lie just outside this glimpse into a moment in time? 

Have any ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below to help keep your fellow writers inspired. 


NOAH TOPLIFF is an undergraduate student at Hamline University in the final year of completing his BFA in Creative Writing. He spends his time outside of his studies writing and recording music and spending time with his dog and girlfriend.  

Writing the Weird, Bizarre, and Impossible

Writing the Weird, Bizarre, and Impossible

…most of the books I have written and those I minted to write originate from the thought that it will be impossible for me to write a book of that kind: when I have convinced myself that such a book is completely beyond my capacities of temperament or skill, I sit down and start writing it.”

Italo Calvino on his writing process

What is it that gets you to read? What is it that stops your mind from nodding off to another online post, and instead grabs your attention, forcing your mind to fixate on something utterly, inexplicably strange? What is it that gives you pause—makes you ponder the world—and gives you a deeper understanding of what it means to be a person?

It is not the familiar that sets our minds abuzz with new ideas. The creation of the new is left to the strange. The weird and wacky elements of writing that make us pause to think about things in a new perspective. That is where we can draw inspiration from. And that is what I wish to help understand today.

For me as a fiction writer, it has always been the strange that attracts me. From fanciful imagery of cities put forth in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, to the more subdued sci-fi of Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day, there has always been something that is just so utterly fascinating about a piece that throws convention out the window in an effort to stretch the authors creativity to its limit. It is the ability to embrace what has never been done before that sets truly great writers apart from their contemporaries. Because we as humans always crave something new to mull our minds over.

So this is the question that we face as undergraduates writers, and writers in general: how the hell are we supposed to write something new?

My advice? Write the impossible. 

Sounds pretty easy, right? Actually, it is. You see, when it comes to the term ‘impossible’, the definition is actually already set in stone. Based on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, something is impossible if it is either:

  1. Incapable of being or of occurring, or
  2. Felt to be incapable of being done, attained, or fulfilled: insuperably difficult.

So all we must do is write something that cannot occur. It can be something as silly as a banana suddenly appearing in front of us out of thin air, or a goat somehow wandering onto a space shuttle and being blasted to mars, or as serious as world peace or total annihilation. All we must do is think of something that is incredibly unlikely to occur, write it down, and bam: we have written the impossible. Created, through our own hands, something that is completely and entirely new in this world.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it might not always be so.

It’s an unfortunate reality of the mind that we can become utterly stuck on what we already know. Corner ourselves with facts and logic that dictate that we write a certain way, express the same ideas, and generally create nothing of value. And even if we do end up creating something new, or having some grand idea, we may become stuck along the way of writing that idea out onto a page, or somehow be incapable of making an engaging story about what we have to offer. What should be done in such situations? What should we do when we become ‘stuck’?

I’ve been in such a situation many times before, and apart from just taking a break to clear my mind of the writing process, the most effective thing I have ever done is to ask myself a question. And that question is this:

What if?

What if my main character doesn’t succeed? What if the task is impossible? What if gravity suddenly gave way and we found ourselves floating in the inky blackness of space? What if the sun didn’t come up tomorrow, as it has every other day? What if this happened, or this happened, or this or this or this or this or…

And then my mind is free. So if you ever want to take a stab at writing something wonderfully and truly bizarre, I suggest that you try to write something that is completely impossible and roll from there. And if you ever get stuck, I suggest you start asking yourself “What if” questions to get yourself unstuck. There is no theoretical limit on creation or creativity, and it would be an utter bore if we only ever retread paths that have already been walked upon. So get out there and write something weird, bizarre, and completely impossible.

Meet the blogger:

BLAKE BUTENHOFF is a thoroughly odd individual. He is supposedly a Senior of Hamline University’s Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, but no one knows quite exactly how he got into such a position. He enjoys strange works of fiction, hiding out in the quiet corners of rooms, and ketchup on his macaroni.

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