Well, it’s official. We’re now on the “downward slope” of NaPoWriMo!

Our featured participant today is Eramosa River Journal, where the poetry-addressing poem for Day 15 is written using poetry refrigerator magnets! I love the resulting visual playfulness of the poem, as well as its rather clever use of refrigerator-based metaphors.

Today’s poetry resource is Jacket2, an online compendium of reviews, critical essays, podcasts, interviews, and more. Smart people saying smart things about smart poems and poets. If you’re feeling a bit half-hearted and down, spend some time with Jacket2, and you will emerge refreshed and reinvigorated. People do care about poetry!

And now for our (as always, optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write in the form known as the terzanelle. A hybrid of the villanelle and terza rima, terzanelles consist of five three-line stanzas and a concluding quatrain. Lines and rhymes are chained throughout the poem, so that the middle line of each triplet is repeated as the last line of the following triplet (or, for the last triplet, in the concluding quatrain). The pattern goes like this:
fAFA or fFAA.

You can use any meter or line length, though you may want to try to have all of your lines in the same meter! (And you can always fall back on that old favorite, iambic pentameter). Here are two example terzanelles to give you a sense of what the form looks like in action:

Terzanelle: Manzanar Riot

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 is 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.
This is the night of Manzanar’s riot,

windstorm of people, rifle powder fumes,
children wiping their eyes clean of debris,
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.

— Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan

Terzanelle in Thunderweather

This is the moment when shadows gather
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.
This is the center of thunderweather.

The birds are quiet among these white leaves
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily
under the elms, the cornices, and eaves–

these are our voices speaking guardedly
about the sky, of the sheets of lightning
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily

into our lungs, across our lips, tightening
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening

that illuminate moments. In the stark
shades we inhibit, there are no words for
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark

of things we cannot say, cannot ignore.
This is the moment when shadows gather,
shades we inhibit. There are no words, for
this is the center of thunderweather.

— Lewis Turco


48 Responses to Day Sixteen

  1. […] Today’s prompt: write a terzanelle. One of the things I love about this challenge: you learn new words every day! (and you can forget about pdf formatting problems for a while) […]

  2. Josh says:

    Whew. Here we go! This one, while writing it and reading it, sounds in my head like a classical musical piece, perhaps a dance from the 1600’s. Anyway, that’s where I got the title from.

    “Terzanelle for Flute in B-Minor”

  3. grapeling says:

    whew, that’s a bit much for me at this point, but worth looking at.


  4. Brittany M says:

    I wrote a terzanelle “Ring of Fire.”

    You can view it here…

  5. Irene Riz says:


    The form is too rigid, it requires six stanzas and total 19 lines, I feel it is too long for me, I have said what I wanted in 5 stanzas.
    Addition of the 4th line at the end, makes the form very attractive, it puts a tremendous emphasis on the last line and I like it. So, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy my new poem, a sorrow of my heart.

  6. Vince Gotera says:

    Didn’t Lewis Turco invent the terzanelle? His poem “Terzanelle in Thunderweather” that you cited above, Maureen — thank you! — also appears online with “how-to” remarks: http://www.gryphonsmith.com/fileg/verse/Terzanelle.html

  7. […] NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a terzanelle. I’ll let you read about it here. It certainly was a challenge but I enjoyed […]

  8. First day back to work in two and a half weeks so this was a little rushed, but I enjoyed the prompt nonetheless https://voicelessfricative.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/games/

  9. […] and rhyme scheme, but I’ll give it a try later when I’m feeling braver. Prompts: http://www.napowrimo.net/day-sixteen-2/ (terzanelle) and http://www.napowrimo.net/day-fifteen/ […]

  10. […] But somehow the goofiness of the topic meshed so well with the rigid format of today’s NaPoWriMo prompt (a terzanelle). There’s just something about that kind of structure that fires me, not so much to rebel as […]

  11. […] NaPoWriMo Day 16 prompt is truly sadistic – a terzanelle.  This follows this rhyme […]

  12. Colonialist says:

    This is a bit of a stinker! Especially if one wants it to rhyme. Still, here we go in my invariably dead serious style:

  13. Grace Black says:

    I Am The Storm

    Wowzers, this was a prompt!

  14. […] Pink Ink Press’ “There’s something misleading about clocks prompt” NaPoWriMo’s “Terzanelles” Flashbang Writing Studio’s “Back and Forth prompt” Miss Rumphius Effect’s […]

  15. […] So this is the – sober – response to that, based on the optional NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 16 prompt, which was to write a terzanelle (five triolets and a quatrain using an […]

  16. CC Champagne says:

    Limping and lame… Wrong day to attempt writing to form it would seem: https://ccchampagne.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/struggle-with-form/

  17. Bryan Ens says:

    I’m afraid I did not follow the prompt today. I will be trying a terzanelle sometime in the near future, but it was a bit much to tackle without a bit more “prep time”. I’ve written both terza rima and villanelles, so the terzanelle is something I’m actually quite excited about trying. For now, though, here is a bit of free verse.

  18. Marilyn Cavicchia says:

    This one almost killed me — or at least, it caused major, major balking at first. :) https://marilyncavicchiaeditorpoet.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/delicate-and-tough-napowrimo-2015-day-16/

  19. Yes, people sure do care about poetry! :) Here’s my response:
    “And Then There’s Another Day”

  20. […] NaPoWriMo.net prompt is to write a terzanelle. After three attempts, I kind of like it, though I have not quite hit […]

  21. […] prompt at NaPoWriMo.net explains what a terzanelle is and invites us to give it a try.  I was intrigued […]

  22. Van Waffle says:

    I wrote a terzanelle about a place where time loses its way, Dusk at the Lake: http://vaneramos.livejournal.com/805001.html

  23. Vince Gotera says:

    Hi folks. Two terzanelles in my blog today. One by me and the other by my writing buddy Thomas Alan Holmes (we both publish NaPoWriMo poems there every day).


  24. Jim says:

    I’m late, I’m late, but no for this important date. It’s still April 16th where I live. My fingers and keyboard got carried away and wrote too much (maybe). Some might not want to call it a poem, but then I am not a real poet, just an amateur poem writer.
    I started with my whatever last night but THINGS broke up my time today.

  25. […] NaPoWriMo blog offered a poetic form as the starting point today – the terzanelle. I found this form rather […]

  26. Hope this still counts. FWIW, I haven’t slept since reading today’s prompt ;) This was a glorious challenge.


  27. […] – joy manifest in every pace of pirouette and leap and prance. Yesterday’s prompt from Napowrimo was to write a Terzanelle, a seemingly simple form until you try to write one.  For the recipe, […]

  28. […] Yesterday’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt to write a terzanelle got me thinking. I like the combination of building and repetitive lines in this […]

  29. […] hack terzanelle for NaPoWriMo’s Day 16 prompt. I’ve enjoyed following this week’s NPR stories about the 150th anniversary of […]

  30. […] NaPoWriMo–Day 16–Terzanelle […]

  31. […] Day 16’s optional prompt, to write in the form known as the terzanelle. ~ via The NaPoWriMo Website […]

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