How to write a Pantoum poem

A pantoum poem looks like it is a difficult format to follow, but in reality it is just a lot of fun. You follow a recurring outline. The pantoum uses four line stanzas. You repeat lines throughout the poem. Lines 2 and 4 of a stanza then become lines 1 and 3 of the next. By using this structure you give the poem its cadenced quality. Follow the instructions below.

1. Write a four-line stanza. Use your imagination; try to make the lines emotional. Just like with any other poem let the words take over.

2. Lines 2 and 4 of stanza 1 now become lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza.

3. Creating lines 2 and 4 so that connect lines 1 and 3.

4. Repeat the outline. Lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza become 1 and 3 of the third. Repeat this until you have completed your poem.

5. When you have reached your final stanza, then you go back to the opening stanza. Use the two lines that haven’t been repeated yet – lines 1 and 3. To finish the pantoum make line 3 (from stanza 1) the second line of the final stanza, and make line1 (from stanza 1) the final line of the poem.

Some writers believe that to get the most from a pantoum you need at least five to seven stanzas. Personally I like at least seven. It can be difficult to tell a story with a pantoum (though I have seen it done), but a pantoum can be a useful vehicle for expressing emotional themes.

This is a basic map of where the lines go.

1
2
3
4

2
5
4
6

5
7
6
8
(and so it continues until the last stanza )

Last stanza

7
3
8
1

The following is a pantoum that I wrote.

***

Journey

Surge, air stroking the earth,

blades of grass

on a journey.

Destination…to be discovered.

***

blades of grass,

to a rhythm,

destination…to be discovered.

Pirouette

***

to the rhythm,

a scintilla.

Pirouette,

a quest to no especial hamlet,

***

a scintilla,

leaves soar, loose,

a quest to no especial hamlet,

blithe to change.

***

Leaves, soar loose,

branches naked, uneven.

Blithe to change -

an annual passage.

***

Branches naked, uneven.

On a journey,

an annual passage,

surge, air stroking the earth.

 ***

Saturday Afternoon is another pantoum of mine you can read here.

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5 thoughts on “How to write a Pantoum poem”

    1. They are a lot of fun – actually any type of structural poetry can be fun to try, as well as challenging.

      Thanks for visiting – good luck with trying – love to see your results. :)

    1. Hi Justin. So glad you think so. I love trying new forms of poetry and finding my way through the process of building the words in a structure. Thanks for the visit. So happy that this helped you. I struggled to figure it out from lots of complicated explanations all over the web and wanted to make it easy to understand. :)

There are two things I know for certain. One: Bert and Ernie are gay. Two: I want to hear your opinion.

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