#TheWombwellRainbow #Poeticformschallenge last week was a Rinnard. Enjoy examples by Marian Christie, Robert Frede Kanter, Jane Dougherty and Tim Fellows and read how they felt when writing one.


I watch the tide turning:
waves gather, churn, repeat
like memories, fleeting.
I yearn to press delete.


Listen to them calling –
tawny owls, in fading
autumn light. Leaves falling
like tears, these woods mourning.

Hunter’s Moon has risen.
Silver light beams glisten
through trees. In the distance
an owl still calls. Listen.

How did it go?

There seem to be several variations of the rinnard so I’ve written two versions. It took me a while to connect with the movement of this form and to sense its rhythm and music. The most challenging aspect for me was the constraint of di-syllabic words at the end of every line.

Marian Christie

Talking to a Raven

Small talk on nonsense day.
A bric-a-brac sunshine.
Come taste new spring delight.
Forget today’s waistline.

We fled Red Robin Road.
I had a heartache, son.
What’s coming next, who know —
The weight of life – a ton.


The Struggle

Talking down from the trees
Squirrels and chipmunks chase
Raven drops from its perch
Can’t look you in the face

Garbage goes up the hill.
Walk a trail till midnight.
On the lake float dead fish.
Rainbow in rain’s flashlight.


How did it go?

The Rinnard is an Irish quatrain form, using abcb end-rhymes. They can be one stanza or more. I settled on two quatrains for each piece. I think in the end, I wrote two gentle irreverent rural poems, revenants from the past, glimpses of contained moments that emerged somehow out of the history and contemporary eliding in the forest I’m very fortunate to be able to visit, at times, in the summer months. I enjoyed playing with the Rinnard form; the setting seemed to inform where I went, the poems as if writing themselves, like a player-piano. I kept changing words around however, from common 1-2 syllable words, to try other words to give the poems a bit more of an oblong narrative slant, both specifically, and in the hope to entertain the magic of something unexpected.

Robert Frede Kenter


When will winter

Water, wild wind again,
gun-grey this cold dawning,
such a damp, dull refrain,
no frost, mournful morning.

Pure snow should be falling,
thick the fast flakes flying,
cover with cold fingers,
fields of green grass dying.

Fill, ice ferns, the meadow,
summer’s snow-white daughter,
teeming spring’s sharp shadow,
whose breath stills well water.

Spring a-coming

Flowing fast the stream now,
drowning dead leaves, swelling
buds. Bird tongues sip sweetly,
their spring stories telling.

Beneath brown leaves billowed,
piled pillows, so lightly
tossed, brisk wind-turned, burgeon
spring spears, budded tightly.

In the hedge, blackbirds furze-
fuss, fierce wind still blowing,
but briar-bound hare sits,
sniffing spring air flowing.

How did it go?

I almost didn’t attempt this one, a complicated Irish form with rules I didn’t understand at first reading. I let it simmer overnight and woke with a first line and an idea of the first stanza. When I wrote it down, it turned out not to work, but I thought I could see how to fix it.

First, I wrote down what I knew about the form in simple terms: quatrains, lines of six syllables, rhyme scheme abcb, end rhymes bi-syllable words, consonance in lots of places, alliteration in every line, and it ends with a dunedh (opening line or word ends the poem).

Constructing the poem was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I started at the end, picked a two-syllable word that could both open and close the poem, then wrote a six-syllable first line. Second line needed a two-syllable end word that would rhyme with the fourth line, so I chose two words, filled in the second line with alliteration, wrote the fourth line with its rhyme, consonance and alliteration, and finally filled in the third line.

The third stanza had to end on the opening word, so that was the end-rhyme sorted out. Alliteration and consonance are easy to play with so it ended up not being the monster I had anticipated. I even enjoyed writing this and have written a couple more.

Jane Dougherty

Cold Wind Howling

A cold wind is howling
across a bleak country
where lean wolves are growling
and hungry for vengeance.

But where are the people
who pray in our churches?
Look to God in steeples
and don’t see the paupers.

Let’s treasure the homeless
and feed all the migrants
reject all the soulless
and welcome all humans.

For doctors, for nurses,
for drivers, and porters;
dip into your purses
and thank them for kindness.

So come all ye faithful
and gather, you pagans;
reach out and be grateful
for all of your riches.

How did it go?

I struggled with this at first and wondered if I’d manage even two stanzas, but once the first line came to me and I matched the first rhyme the rest of it flowed out. I think the majority of people in the UK are decent people and want to be kind and generous to the less fortunate. Probably true in the US too. However there’s a large and vocal minority who make our country a difficult place to like at times. Stanza four is an obvious and specific UK reference to the problems with the underfunding of the health service and the demonising of people who literally put their lives on the line during the pandemic.
Thanks to Ian Parks for the title and Tracy Dawson for the improvements.

Tim Fellows

Bios and Links

Marian Christie

was born in Zimbabwe and travelled widely before moving to her current home in Kent, southeast England. Publications include a chapbook, Fractal Poems (Penteract Press), and a collection of essays, From Fibs to Fractals: exploring mathematical forms in poetry (Beir Bua Press). Her new collection, Triangles, is forthcoming from Penteract Press in April.
Marian blogs at http://www.marianchristiepoetry.net and is on Twitter @marian_v_o.

Robert Frede Kenter,

writer & visual artist, publisher of Ice Floe Press http://www.icefloepress.net, author of EDEN and other works.

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