Experimenting With Poetry Form (Framed Couplets)

Once in a while I like to experiment with a new (to me) poetry form. Today, its the framed couplet, explained in detail and illustrated over at dVerse by Gay Reiser Cannon. (The main rules are: 9 syllable lines, the first syllable of each line is accented, and both the first and last syllable of each couplet line rhyme.) Here are my two attempts:

The Quest
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Poetry and prose in fits and starts,
Knowing that my words can open hearts.
Writing’s daily challenge — must confront.
Light or heavy verse — I’m on the hunt.

Trying out new forms can lead the way,
Prying out the words I need to say,
Freeing up my brain and letting loose,
Keying into that which cuts my noose.


The List
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Naming all the things that I must do.
Blaming times’s escape, when I do few.
Toting up the items left undone.
Noticing my list is missing fun.


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36 Responses to “Experimenting With Poetry Form (Framed Couplets)”

  1. laurie kolp says:

    I’d say you did a fine job with this challenging form! I especially like-

    Trying out new forms can lead the way,
    Prying out the words I need to say,
    Freeing up my brain and letting loose,
    Keying into that which cuts my noose.

    … and what’s a list with no fun?

  2. Fred says:


    really nice job with the form. Totally agree with all you wrote in the first poem and the second one is all too resonating, but those are the best poems in my opinion. Great job. Thanks

  3. Tino says:

    I wouldn’t call this an experiment, I would call it the finished article. Great fun in there and I guess we are alike in so much as its hard to resist a challenge.

  4. Rachael says:

    I agree-definitely well done.

  5. lolamouse says:

    I love them both! The second one sounds exactly like me!

  6. Manicddaily says:

    Hey! Fun is also left off of my list. I agree heartily re noose. Cut loose! Well done. K.

  7. Oh, how I can relate to forgetting fun. You took to the form like you were born to it, great work.

  8. brian miller says:

    smiles…nice cadence in yours and i am on that hunt as well…though the forms have taken me a bit more to grasp…i am trying them more and more though…this one was a bit difficult…

  9. Gay says:

    Excellent – both form and content. Love that they were both poems about writing. I think they are some of the coolest ever. Really appreciate your participation and want you to know these are truly a joy! Thank you.

  10. And you say you’re experimenting? If that was an experiment, then I’d love to see the finished product! Both those poems are excellent. And about the second one, it happens a lot.

  11. Veralynne says:

    Thanks for intro-ing the form and well-done on yours!! You sure know how to push our creativity buttons! LOL!

  12. This is such a hard form and all you wrote makes perfect sense (which is something I lose when I try forms). Besides, both poems are fun!

  13. Good take on the framed couplets form, with the initial and final rhymes. I like the self-referral sense in the first poem, and the humor in both. Should put fun on that list at number one!

  14. It’s good to try new forms; it’s like exercising another part of the poetic body – makes you stronger all round.

  15. Granny Smith says:

    Trying out this new form may be fun.
    Lying low ’til I’m sure that it’s done.
    Still I have enough Newbie’s terrors
    ‘Til I’ve checked and rechecked for errors.

  16. Granny Smith says:

    I forgot to sign it with my real name, which, of course, is Phyllis Sterling Smith.

  17. madkane says:

    Thanks so much everyone for your kind comments and fun verse.

  18. Johanna Richmond says:

    Pardon this sad effort — what an extremely difficult form to do well. At least I found it so. Don’t know why my thoughts went to such un-funny subject matter — something about the meter, I think. Not happy with it (if only I could put back all those better lines that started with unstressed syllables:)

    Years ago you left me in a dream;
    Tears cannot unstitch that dogged seam;
    Pulsing stars threw kisses when you went —
    Lullaby to night without relent;

    “Now” was the flute you played with cherished skill.
    How did that sacred awe forsake your will?
    Could it be you, coaxed by the wild bird’s flight,
    Stood by the river’s heart at edge of night?

    Cupping your hands to drink, that soundless deep
    Ruptured the binding ties to all but sleep?
    Sorrow’s the child you left my arms to hold;
    Coursing through all my joy, that river cold

  19. Johanna Richmond says:

    Looking at yours, Mad, I see your meter is different. I used the examples in the link, iambic pentameter with the first syllable missing, starting on a stressed. I varied the rythmn a bit from foot to foot because straight iams were feeling very monotonous (but I didn’t always do this successfully — the stanza I finally cut was the best example of that). I think the five stressed beats are what count most in pentameter — but I could be totally confused at this point! Sorry if I screwed it up — at least I got a little catharsis out of it ;) Thanks for the challenge!

  20. Johanna Richmond says:

    Meant iambs not iams!

  21. Johanna Richmond says:

    I must be getting goofy because I now see you do have five stressed syllables in yours, was reading the lines with four the first time so was wondering if I’d misinterpreted the instructions. I think my brain is too old for this!

  22. John Sardo says:

    No, no, no, no, no.! Nooooooooooooo!

  23. John Sardo says:

    Rubio’s a guy on the hunt.
    He should only drop back and punt.
    He wants to be pres
    Despite what he says
    Right now he’s just pulling a stunt.

    And screw the rules.

  24. John Sardo says:

    It’s really sad to have to eliminate Republicans from the challenge. They can’t count past eight.

  25. John Sardo says:

    I’m still working on one. Fortunately, I have ten fingers.

  26. Robert Schechter says:

    Johanna, yours is very good and nicely written, but in the second stanza you stray from the “form” and use ten-syllable lines. Rather than IP with a clipped first syllable, you have the full ten syllables and substitute a trochee in the first foot. That’s a standard substitution, and sounds fine, but doesn’t slavishly conform to the rules of the “framed couplet.”

  27. Chris Doyle says:

    [Came here from the WaahPost Style Devotees page.] Lovely poems, Mad. Question for Bob: I don’t know whiat “IP” means, and I’m counting nine syllables, not ten, in the second stanza of Mad’s first poem. Was it rewritten, by chance?

  28. madkane says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comments, Chris!

    Re your questions to Bob, IP, I believe, is Iambic Pentameter. As for your nine versus ten syllable question, Bob wasn’t talking about my verse; He was referring to Johanna’s verse posted above in the comments.

  29. Chris Doyle says:

    Oh, I see. I should have read the comments more closely. Thanks.

  30. Bodhirose says:

    Haven’t tried this form…but it’s true..trying a new form can open up ideas to flow freely. Somehow forms can set the tone for what topic to use with them. Loved yours, Madeleine!

  31. Nice to revisit this one which you hit out of the park. This was one of my favorite prompts.

  32. brian miller says:

    i am getting better at this form thing….smiles…so i guess tha is a good thing…thanks for always joining in the fun mad kane….you are appreciated…and one of these days i will actually write a porper limerick…smiles

  33. Gay says:

    This is so effortless and easy. You are such a master of rhythm with meaning. You have such talent and your work always engages. Again thank you for putting out the information on this form and informing us of the article in the Washington Post. Hector was so please. Thank you Thank you!

  34. Susan says:


  35. Ravenblack says:

    The rhythm and rhyme of these are perfect. :) Love it. The search for words is really worthy to deemed a “quest”.

  36. dark angel says:

    “Freeing up my brain and letting loose” cheers to that!