Introducing – the five digit stanza

Trying to get away from stereotypical ideas of what might make a stanza ahead of a poetry workshop I’m leading later this month, I have come up with a structure that I think may be original and which a few experiments of my own so far have shown to be fruitful.

I call it the five digit stanza, not because it consists of five numbers, but because the line lengths follow the finger lengths of the left hand, starting from a ‘wrist margin’. The structure is very effective, and with enjambements proves very flexible. Here’s my poem ‘Starlings’ to illustrate the form.


As dusk fell, the last cars
were boarding the ferry, and passengers,
no longer cramped, spread themselves in the lounge.
Headlines in English newspapers depicted
the bright, urgent landscapes of home.

I stood on the afterdeck as the sky
darkened with starlings. They rose, sank,
circled in great swarms, the shapeshifting abstract of love,
perfectly formed, that as the bow doors
clanged to, embraced the whole town.

The form is a delight to work in, and I hope others will find it of interest.



Filed under John Gohorry, Workshops

4 responses to “Introducing – the five digit stanza

  1. Kim Simmonds-Hurn

    The body poetic? Interesting idea! Good poem.

  2. This looks like a fruitful innovation. Each line has its own degree of freedom or restriction.

  3. Have already commented on the form elsewhere, so as for the poem, I think it is mighty fine. The passengers/starlings combination works very well : )

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