Penning an etheree poem (Guest Post)

Hey y’all! Today’s guest is Michelle Liew from Getting Literal. She has been a wonderful bloggy buddy, offering me advice and the wisdom from her experience. She also is the powerhouse behind our blog hop: The Creative Buzz Hop. She loves animals, especially dogs, even writing helpful posts for dog owners. Michelle has a true gift for teaching people. And today, she’s going to exercise that gift and teach us about the poetic beauty in brevity and simplifying.


Penning an etheree poem

Since I was introduced to the contemporary form of the etheree, the short poetic form has had me hooked.

Of course, when I was asked by Tamara to share the dynamics of a poetic form, my first instinct was to select this one.

For the Etheree poem, short as it is, is concise poetry that is sure to capture the heart.

Hardly archaic, the etheree is a contemporary poetic form. It was created some 20 years ago by American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong, who passed away in 1994, just before leaving the form behind for us to grasp and enjoy.

Little is known about the poetess except this contribution, which many poets of this time have fallen in love with.

The etheree is a 10 line poem that begins with 1 syllable and increases by one in each line.

Therefore, the structure of an etheree poem should be as follows:

Line 1 : 1 syllable
Line 2 : 2 syllables
Line 3: 3 syllables
Line 4: 4 syllables
Line 5 : 5 syllables

And so on until the tenth line, with 10 syllables, is reached.

You know that the form of your etheree is correct when you have written 55 syllables in your poem.

An etheree poem should always be unrhymed.

An example of an etheree is one I have written on the Wolf Cub and finding joy in the simple pleasures of life.

The Wolf Cub

Juicy bones
Tears off the meat
Chewing each morsel
Eyes fixed on his small prize
That titillates his senses
And excites his little being
He partakes in the simple gourmet
With a lively tail that swishes and ever moves.

The etheree can also be written in reverse. For those who may be familiar, the etheree is very much like a Nonet poem. The Nonet poem begins with 9 syllables and decreases by one in each line till the last line, with only one syllable, is reached.

In a similar way, the reverse etheree begins with 10 syllables in the first line, then 9 in the second line and so on until the last line, with only a single word and syllable.

I have written a reverse etheree about our journey to find peace.

Dove, be still

It flies with no branch on which to land
It’s feathers furl in a frantic search
Small, white bird continues its flight
Through dark clouds of turbulence
And storms which know not end
It looks for the branch
Of soothing olives
Flying forth
Till it

The short length of the etheree makes this succinct poetic form truly attractive. Poets fall in love with it because short as it is, it’s a challenge to summarize emotions for its conciseness.

It’s short enough to act as a caption on or underneath photographs.

Its structure makes it a fun form to explore. As I write and look at it now, it either peaks or descends, expanding or contracting, mirroring the pattern of our thoughts.

It’s a form that is easily written because the expression of thoughts is relatively straight forward.

On that note, an etheree is most effective when simple concepts are embraced. As seen in the examples above, if the poem discusses joy, it should be about just that, with one, simple, fluid image to illustrate the point.

Don’t be convoluted with an etheree poem. Trying to marry too many concepts in 10 lines leaves you with poetic stress and a very confusing etheree.

I share a little etheree about the growth of faith.

The Yellow Seed

Finds small space
In arid soil
And water so scarce
Yet slowly takes root
Nucleus spreads with fervor
Taking hold with clear firmness
They slowly reach above the soil
Sure bark begins to stand so upright
Green leaves unfurl with more ripe fruit to spread.

Try writing an etheree. It promises concise but thought-provoking fun.


http://penpaperpad.comMichelle, blogger at Getting Literal, is a freelance writer with a huge taste for fiction and poetry, one she acquired while pursuing a degree in Literature and English.

In her free time, you’ll find her thumping on the piano, catching a good movie, reading a good book or simply relaxing with her two rambunctious hounds, Misty and Cloudy.

Follow her on Twitter!



Feel free to give the ethree a try in the comments below. We’d love to see what you come up with.

Aloha y’all!


Filed under Guest Posts

14 Responses to Penning an etheree poem (Guest Post)

  1. Lovely poems! Visualised them. Very well-expressed!
    Dunno if I can attempt with such finesse! 🙂

  2. Beautiful Etherees … I prefer writing this form when I don’t want to be restricted by rhymes… Allows a smooth flow of thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted..Thus Spake the QuillMy Profile

  3. MJM

    Awesome. You have some serious skills my friend. I suck at poetry, no matter what kind, so I just avoid it all together.
    MJM recently posted..“Freaky Frankenstein”My Profile

  4. Interesting way to write a poem, thanks for sharing this type of poetry its well written

  5. KP

    I have understood the rules of writing an Etheree poem and savored both the ascending and descending poems by your talented guest.As I could see. the beauty of the poems rests on their harmony with the picture and its gentle lines.Ms Michelle has kindled my interest in this form though I hardly write poems but only read them.
    I am sorry I cannot write one readily in comment box but will do and send her in due course

  6. YES. One of my all time favorite forms. In fact, I don’t think anyone noticed (that I’m aware of) that I used etheree with my poem “Dragonfly” on Lizzi’s blog, Well Tempered Bards. I did it backwards, starting with 9 syllables and ending with one. It made for a very cool effect.
    Beautiful poems, Michelle! You’re so talented.
    Great guest post, Tamara!
    beth teliho recently posted..BlogygamyMy Profile

  7. I had to study a lot of poetry in college. Some I found easy to write and I loved; some were a challenge and I didn’t care for them very much. These two somehow escaped me. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the forms. Thanks for sharing.
    Staci Troilo recently posted..Think Low, Think High, Give a Book a TryMy Profile

  8. Hi Michelle, I’ve never heard of an etheree poem before but it’s one I’d love to try my hand at writing.

    Nice to meet you Tamara.
    Susan Zutautas recently posted..StrawberriesMy Profile

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