A New (to me) Form of Poetry


Just because I am retired doesn’t mean that I have stopped learning new things and different ways of writing.  NCTE was filled with new and exciting styles of expressing yourself.  This is one format I found particularly interesting.

When I was still teaching I did some Haiku with my students.  I liked the simple format and my students felt successful writing poetry.  I am sure many other teachers also wrote H aiku with their students.

At NCTE I sat in on a poetry session and learned a form of poetry that was unfamiliar to me.  It is a Korean form called Sijo.

Like Haiku, Sijo is also based on syllable count and can be three to six lines.  The poem has a total of 44 – 46 syllables   Each line in the poem serves a special purpose.  Here is the breakdown:

Line 1:  14 – 16 syllables (introduction)

Line 2: 14 -16 syllables (development)

Line 3: 14 – 16 syllables (twist and conclusion)

At the end of the session we were given a book of Sijo: Tap Dancing on the Roof written by Linda Sue Park.  Here are some examples of her poems.  You will notice that some poems have six lines.  The reason for this is because lines can be so long tat they are sometimes divided into two lines.


In the shop there are baskets of sand dollars, white and round and smooth.

On the beach I search hard but find only shards, never a whole one.

Are all the perfect sand dollars locked away somewhere – in sand banks?


How proud you are of your strong legs!

Bend and straighten, kick and swim;

soon you will use them to climb

from cool water to sun-warm rock.

But do you wonder where it’s gone –

the tail that once served you so well?

Well, of course I couldn’t end this post without trying at least one Sijo of my own so here goes.

The Feeder

A flurry of activity; sparrows, wrens, and chickadees.

Gathering; Waiting their turn; filling up on seeds and berries.

Only to be disrupted by a squirrel that wants his fill too.

I hope you find this format as interesting as I did.  Maybe you will try it, especially during the March Challenge.







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18 responses to “A New (to me) Form of Poetry

  1. Funny, I just learned about Sijo, too. It was in a book of children’s poetry about gratitude called “Thanku”.

  2. I’m recently retired and feel encouraged and inspired by your post. Definitely want to try this Sijo poetry! The end of your poem is so fun with the squirrel interrupting the action!

  3. You were at NCTE too. I met up with many writers during the Convention and would have enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for the new poetry form. As you saw in my post. I tried a prose piece followed by a haiku-a haibun. You should stop by Poetry Friday and share your poetry. I am going to give this form a try.

    • I have never been brave enough to check out poetry Friday. Maybe some day. Hope you do try this form. I have another form to share next Tuesday that I also learned at a session I attended.

  4. A great idea to add this to things to try in March, which in the scheme of things is not really that far away.

  5. I learned about sijo a few years ago and have really come to enjoy it. I love the examples you include here – I never knew that the lines could be divided. Your chickadee/squirrel sijo made me smile.

  6. Thanks for introducing me to Sijo. I tucked the details into my writing notebook and hope to give it a try. PS I’d also encourage you to share on Poetry Fridays. It’s a wonderful community!

  7. This is an interesting form! I never tried it when I taught older students, but if I ever go back to them, I think I might. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Okay, I kept thinking about the Sijo format all week. First attempt is at https://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2019/12/creating-digital-art-with-flair.html. Thanks for sharing.

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