Inventing a Poetry Form at Swanwick

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This year at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, Alison Chisholm (Poet, Judge and Tutor) set us the theme of working with seasons of the year on a four-hour Poetry Course.

Have you ever thought about inventing your own poetry form? Well that’s the task Alison set us on Tuesday for the spring season, using a prompt – New Beginnings.

Not wanting to be beaten, I stayed up half the night on Wednesday evening to reach a first draft in the form of my own invention, a Penta Decima.

A Penta Decima consists of: 

15 lines.

5 stanzas written in tercets.

The first line of the first four stanzas rhyme with each other.

First and third line rhyme in the final stanza.

The lines are not syllable controlled so offer freedom.

Here’s my first Penta Decima which is in its very early stages so subject to change but it will give you the idea.

I’d love to hear what you think of this form and feel free to have a go and post your own.


My first Penta Decima   (subject to change)


The 12 x 10 space is cold and bare,

Georgian windows stripped from drapes,

footfalls echo through the house.


A heavy drop reveals a chair,

married up with a double couch,

leather upholstery steals o2.


Muscled men settle a bed on the stair,

they take a deep breath, then heave.

Rooms start to take shape.


A black-framed print boasts a polar bear,

Royal Doulton’s Top Dogs claim the mantelpiece.

Fixtures and fittings form a new I.D.


Today a monochrome mold-

Time to shade in colour, create

tomorrow’s me and throw out the old.


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