Chance Cinquain Paint Chip Poetry Prompt

January is plugging right along. Here we are at week three and I kind of miss 2020. How about you? Well, we can’t go back so we’ll just keep moving forward. And for this year in paint chip poetry that means checking out the C section of the poetry dictionary by John Drury. (Is it just me, or does it kind of bug you that the title of this dictionary is all lower case?)

The Challenge

I decided to combine two entries from the dictionary for today’s challenge. The first was an obvious choice as it’s what we’ve essentially been doing with the paint chip poetry prompts since last January. It’s called “chance poetry,” which Drury defines as follows:

CHANCE POETRY (also called aleatory poetry) Poetry written using chance methods, such as words written on cards and drawn at random to furnish an order for a poem’s vocabulary. The leading American proponents of chance poetry have been Jackson MacLow and John Cage . . .

One of the easiest ways to use chance as a stimulus for writing poems is to open a dictionary—or any book—at random and put your finger on a word, and then incorporate that word, along with other strokes of luck, into a poem.

the poetry dictionary, second edition, page 56.

So the first part of my challenge is to use all seven of the paint chip words in the order in which I randomly drew them from the deck. That means following the list shown below from top to bottom.

The second entry that I am throwing into the mix is the “cinquain,” defined as follows:

CINQUAIN (sing-kané; French, “group of five”) A poetic form, inspired by Japanese tanka, invented by Adelaide Crapsey (who wrote twenty-eight of them), with a syllabic arrangement of 2-4-6-8-2 in its five lines. In her own cinquains, Crapsey allows herself to add or subtract a syllable from any given line. The term is also used for any five-line stanza, along with quintain, quintet, and pentastich.

the poetry dictionary, second edition, page 61.

My challenge to you is to write seven cinquains in the 2-4-6-8-2 syllabic pattern, one for each of the paint chip words or phrases, used in the order in which they were drawn. Or if you’d like a little less strenuous challenge, write however many five-line stanzas you desire, but still using the “chance” words and phrases in order.

And the words and phrases you have to work with are:

before the rain
new leaf
Garden of Eden
black tie

My Poem

I decided to take my own challenge and write seven cinquains, one for each word or phrase. Not sure if they are going to go together completely, but we’ll see.

Paint by Numbers Sunshine

before the rain 
Comes out again to dry
Rivulets of salty teardrops
With love

New leaf
Of happiness
Blows on a warming breeze
Daintily dancing cavorting
With grace

Garden of Eden
Everything creation
Needs to thrive and grow happily

Like matcha tea
Pauperized paradise
Left us wanting utopia

Descendants of
That treacherous serpent
Spewing flames of false happiness
But see

Our black-tie knight
Bleeding armor lifted
Crown of thorns upon his sweet brow

And truth
Like half-and-half
In cup-o-joe prompts taste
Without bitterness but lovely

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to share your chance poem, cinquain or otherwise. You can post it in the comments, or post it on your blog and share the link in the comments. And tell your poet friends about this fun prompt.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


15 Responses

    • There was a moment, around cinquain #5, that I began to regret my plan to write 7. But, for better or for worse, I stuck with it. I like how yours turned out even with the fewer stanzas.

Leave a Reply