Many poets like to write rhyming poetry. So do I! And there’s nothing wrong with that–kids love rhyming poems. But a particular weakness of rhyming poems is that we end up with lots of “filler”—words like a, an, the, very, oh! and so on. They are words used just to provide a syllable when the meter demands it. I think an excellent way to improve your rhyming poetry is to work on non-rhyming forms.

One non-rhyming (usually) form I really like is the diamante. Here’s the basic form:

one-word object
two adjectives describing the line-one object
three ‑ing verbs that the line-one object does
four words that link line one and line seven, usually two words for each line
three ‑ing verbs that the line seven object does
two adjectives describing the line-seven object
one-word object

The finished product usually has a diamond shape. Because you have specific parts of speech to use and limited words when working in this form, you often turn out a surprisingly wonderful little piece. This form is excellent for revealing the relationship between two things, especially two opposing things.

Here are a couple of examples of diamantes I wrote for my Capstone poetry books.

Dark and Light

raindrops, misty
falling, gathering, hanging
clouds, fading, sunlight, appearing
bouncing, reflecting, arcing
sparkle, colors

–by Laura Purdie Salas,
from Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems About Weather

Grand Canyon

hard, red
rising, rippling, towering
water flowing, canyon growing
carving, wearing, eroding
sunken, brown

–by Laura Purdie Salas,
from Tiny Dreams, Sprouting Tall: Poems About the United States

That middle line with two rhyming phrases (like “water flowing, canyon growing”) is something I like to add to diamantes when I can make it work. It’s not a part of the traditional definition of the form, but I think it’s fun. Remember, if you do that, one phrase should describe the top line, and one phrase should describe the bottom line.

I took my teenage daughter on a poetry outing to Caribou Coffee. She doesn’t like a blank page and usually asks for some form or guidelines. So that day at Caribou, I introduced her to the diamante form, and she loved it. Here are the two poems she wrote that day over a turtle iced mocha–or something like that!

Into the Night

(this one went with a photo of skyscrapers under a twilight blue sky)

artificial beacons
calling, showing, glowing
beckoning true, forever answering
wrapping, stretching, changing
unendingly loyal

—by Annabelle Salas, all rights reserved

Growing Hope

beautiful, radiant
easy-going, easy-growing, effortless
cheer teachers, dream reachers
encouraging, inspiring, believing
someday yours

—by Annabelle Salas, all rights reserved

And in my online poetry workshops, I’ve been really impressed with the diamantes some poets have come up with! When I work on a diamante, I’m often looking at an image, and I pick out two opposing forces in it. Is winter meeting spring in the form of an icicle? Is the river eroding away the rock? It’s all about finding and illuminating that relationship.

If you′re having trouble getting started, try this simple online diamante tool. Besides the fun of a new form to explore, there are a few advantages to learning this form. First, it forces you to use vivid, concrete verbs and nouns. That is a skill that will spill over into your other poems and prose, as well. Second, this form makes you write without any filler words at all. That, too, will increase your poetic strength!

So go ahead, give it a try! You might write a real gem of a poem!

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