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  • Writer's pictureNadia Giordana

Try Your Hand at Sijo

Try Your Hand at Sijo

By Nadia Giordana

I mostly write free verse, but when winter drags on for me, I sometimes pass the time writing sijo. It’s a Korean form of poetry (originally meant to be lyrical songs) related to haiku. Another similarity to haiku, sijo is often about spirituality, nature, and love. It usually consists of three parts, 1) an idea or theme, 2) an event, thought or story, and finally, 3) a conclusion, closure, or surprise turn of events. See if you can spot these elements in my own examples below:

A hawk peers down from his cedar perch

and glares at my intrusion.

He turns his head to follow me

as I walk blithely by.

I look back to meet the stare—

and wonder what he thinks of me.

The above sijo won 1st place several years ago in the now defunct, Sijo West magazine.

When will this dense fog burn off

so I can enjoy this precious day?

My poor eyes strain to recognize

familiar shapes and forms.

Wait—was that a deer I saw

dissolving into nothingness?

Would that I could reach the sky

and touch the door of creation

I’d clutch a coal from God’s hearth fire

and bring it back to Earth for you.

For then the embers of our love

will surely blaze forever.

Traditionally, sijo is written in 3 lines of 14 to 16

syllables each. A complete poem should total

between 44 and 46 syllables. Western sijo is often broken into six lines, following natural breaks. If you look at my first example about the hawk, it is 8 + 7 = 15, 8 + 6 = 14, and 7 + 8 = 15 for a total of 44 syllables. Get it? Now you try. !

#NadiaGiordana #Sijo

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