Malaysian in origin, the PANTOUM is a looping poetry form made up
of two or more quatrains.  The lines overlap as they weave in and out, loose ends neatly tucking themselves in as the poem comes full circle.  Every line is repeated; lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza cascade down to become lines 1 and 3 of the next, a pattern that continues throughout.  The final stanza grabs lines 3 and 1 of the first stanza and recasts them as the third-to-last and final lines.  Word Karma comes into play here.  Rigid lines will double back and bite you – graceful in one context but awkward in the other.  Loose phrases, however, will pull together and tighten up as you work.  Rhyming is an optional mission.  Should you choose to accept it, the most common schemes are abab baba abab baba and abab bcbc cdcd dada.  Below, a pantoum about pantoums:


An infinite design
looping quatrains
crisscrossing of lines
like links in a chain

Looping quatrains
free verse or rhyme
like links in a chain
as words intertwine

Free verse or rhyme
the writer’s domain
as words intertwine
reborn as refrains

The writer’s domain
crisscrossing of lines
reborn as refrains
an infinite design

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23 thoughts on “LOOSEN UP!

  1. chevvy8 June 11, 2017 / 2:00 am

    You are really good at trying out these different poetry form Joan. I suspect this poem is deceivingly simple. I suppose my takeout from this would be that we always return to who we are regardless of whatever paths we take or trimmings life brings, in the end , the core is unravelled. Until then, like the quatrain, we’ll keep looping. Have a lovely Sunday Joan!😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just Joan June 11, 2017 / 10:02 am

      Thanks, Chevvy! As I wrote this, I thought of how each area of our lives spills over into the others, the dual roles we play. Tight compart- mentalization comes back to bite you; like, if you have to compromise your principles to do your job, things won’t trickle down smoothly. Integration of your true self into all areas of your life lets you relax, pulls it all together, makes you whole. Happy Unraveling! See you on Sunday Coming Down. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 June 11, 2017 / 11:29 am

        I suppose the integration of all the parts doesn’t always come easy to most people though. I wonder how many people can make a perfect fit in all areas of their lives. That’s why I like the fact that the Pantoun offers free verse or rhyme. That kind of flexibility is probably necessary to accomplish harmony. a very interesting analogy! Hope you’re having a good Sunday. Catch you later Joan!😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tippy Gnu June 11, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Seems to me like a songwriter could take some lessons from you, Joan, with all the many different, interesting patterns that verse can be put into.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 11, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      Thanks, Tippy. This one is kind of lyrical, huh? The image that came to my mind was making one of those bracelets with the different colored cords, braiding and knotting to make a pattern and finishing it by tying the ends together, like weaving a colorful bit of infinity. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 11, 2017 / 4:01 pm

      Thanks, PB. I love it when a post inspires a “response poem.” If nothing else, they broaden our horizons about what poetry is, what it could be, how we can use our imaginations to turn known forms upside-down or inside-out and create an entirely new thing. I want people to catch the fever, find ways to integrate poetry into their lives. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 11, 2017 / 4:06 pm

      Thanks, Marissa. And I love that word, “pantoumception,” it sounds like a literary figure-eight, or the infinity you see when you stare into a mirror reflecting another mirror. 🙂


    • Just Joan June 12, 2017 / 6:41 pm

      Thanks, Noel. Like a chocolate fountain that spills from one tier onto the next and eventually gets recirculated back to the top. Chocolate metaphors are delicious. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 12, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      Thanks, 227! Try one, then act out the lines using charades: also known as “pantoum-mime.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. L. T. Garvin, Author June 13, 2017 / 10:53 pm

    I really like how it sounds, sort of like a musical chain of words. I also like the concept of infinity. You are so talented at expression in many forms, Joan. Always enjoyable! Oh and Word Karma, I think I surely know about that one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 14, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      Thanks, Lana. I like how this one melded… the lines wrapping around each other. I would like to play with this form more; one idea is to create a “found” pantoum–randomly choose eight stand-alone phrases from books on my bookshelf and layer them in this manner just to see if it pulls together or falls apart. Best let you get back to MaryAnn and Carly, dying to know what happens next. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author June 14, 2017 / 10:50 pm

        Sounds like a great experiment. Found poetry is such a bonus! You know, there are lots of townspeople out there who think Carly has that thing wrapped up. Maybe MaryAnn will give her a big slap in the end 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan June 15, 2017 / 3:37 pm

        A slap so hard she won’t ever forget it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 14, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      Hi Gayatri. Thanks for the read and comment. I enjoyed the poems on your site, such deep explorations of the inner self! Very descriptive and present in the moment. Following. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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