19 August 2013

our lost jungle poetry form challenge: challege #3 - terza rima twist

Welcome to the third challenge of the 2013 OLJ Poetry Form Challenge! This year’s challenge is all about stepping out of comfort zones and learning to play with poetry. Good luck with these fun and funky forms! (For more on what the OLJ Poetry Form Challenge is all about, check out this post.)

The OLJ Poetry Form Challenge #3: Terza Rima Twist

challenge 3: terza rima twist

In the thirteenth century, Dante Alighieri invented the terza rima form as the structural “landscape” of his three-part epic poem, The Divine Comedy. A terza rima is, traditionally, a poem written in tercets (three line stanzas) where the end rhyme of the second line in the first tercet determines the rhyme for the first and third lines of the following tercet (thus the rhyme scheme a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, etc.). There are many theories as to how and why Dante invented the form, including the theory that the three-line stanza form was meant to symbolically mirror the Holy Trinity. Later poets, including Chaucer, Milton, and Hardy, experimented with and altered the form. One of the most popular interpretations of the form is the terza rima sonnet. Terza rima also tends to be a highly experimental poem form in that most modern poets who write in the form use slant or near rhymes rather than perfect rhyme. The form was founded in experimentation and innovation …

Which makes it a perfect form to play with during this challenge.

jump in

Today’s task is to take the basic terza rima structure and give it your own unique twist. (For a basic definition and examples of the terza rima form, go here.) Set your rule before you write. For example, “I’ll keep the rhyme scheme but my second line will always be twice the length of the first and third” or “I’ll use the rhyme scheme, but only with slant rhymes, and every fourth stanza will have four lines.” Be as simple as you’d like, or challenge yourself by making the form even more complicated than it already is. (It’s really deceptively “simple” in its standardly defined form, anyway.) Remember, a terza rima can be as long or as short as you like ... but for the sake of this challenge, please aim for more than two stanzas. If you’ve never written a tirza rima before, your “twisted form” may wind up looking very similar to a traditional poem in this style; if you’re feeling really loose, your poem may look almost nothing like a traditional terza rima! Either way, you’re okay!

Have fun, and don’t forget to share your attempts in the comments below or email them to ourlostjungle@kharahouse.com. This week I’ve “challenged” myself to choose three winners, in honor of the form’s name … so bring it!


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Join in the 2013 Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Khara, I apologize for posting too soon. My proofreading let me down.

    Terza Rima
    Rhyme: a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d
    My rule
    Syllables: 3-5-3, 5-3-5, 3-5-3, 5-3-5 – end with title.

    Japanese Garden

    White sand strictly raked
    infinity shaped

    thought looses
    a mind avalanche
    and chooses

    to linger and stanch
    hue and cry.
    Contemplate a branch

    of bonsai,
    listen to a stone’s
    soothing sigh.

    Japanese garden

    1. Nice work, Debi. I like the specified line lengths and the repetition of the title.

  3. A terza rima with a twist: http://wp.me/p29fg9-tq

  4. Terza Rima Peppermint Twist with a couplet tie.

  5. Mine's here:


  6. I am just getting to this prompt (at almost midnight on Wednesday) but I hope to write something tomorrow. What is the deadline?

    1. Hi, Linda! The deadline is Thursday evening, so you have time! :)

    2. I emailed it to you last night. Hope you got it.

  7. Here's my attempt:



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