Poetry Friday: practicing the Naani form

I’ve been doing some practicing lately.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllA couple of weeks ago, I came upon a relatively new form of poetry called Naani, which was created by one of India’s foremost poets, Dr. N Gopi, who hails from the Teluga region in southern India.

It’s a short form, and shares some similarities with haiku/senryu. Like the Japanese forms, Naani poetry has a set line- and syllable-count. It is a 4-line poem that usually contains a total 20-25 syllables, although I’ve come across many that are a few syllables short.

Unlike haiku, subject matter is not confined to nature, but is fairly wide open. From what I’ve read, the term ‘naani’ refers to an expression of one and all; most Naani poems touch upon emotions, relationships, and the human condition.

Like haiku/senryu, it is deceptively difficult!

As I often say, writing haiku is easy; writing good haiku is anything but. The same is true for Naani poems. The following three are my first attempts at this form, so when you read them, please keep in mind I’m a newbie! I don’t often post poems that I lack confidence in – but this is a learning exercise, so I want you to be able to see what’s happening and perhaps join in, yourself.

Naani #1

Temper, undisciplined,
sparks the forest-consuming fire;
from self-control,
green springs


Naani #2

Laugh when you can,
dance when you want to,
smile when you should, and everyday
swallow your heart


Naani #3

Crimson-tinged sun drops,
life floods rimy ground; the grave
shines, as we
grieve the spectacle


– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Taking a critical eye toward these, I feel the first one reads too much like a fortune cookie; the second is a bit too trite; the third I’m fairly happy with, especially because I felt I was able to use enjambment to my advantage. (By the way, if you’re wondering what “swallow your heart” means, I share that HERE) Oh, and one other characteristic about the Naani form is that the first line usually – but not always – states the subject of the poem…you’l notice I strayed from this on the second one.

I would love to see what you come up with, if you’d care to take a “Naani challenge! As I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Just leave your poems in the comments, or feel free to email them to my address in the upper right, and I’ll share them here over the next few weeks. (I’d also love to find out if you can discern what that 3rd poem is about…I deliberately kept it ambiguous to hopefully allow for more than one interpretation, so I hope it worked!)

Want  more poetry? Be sure to drop by Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, for all of today’s Poetry Friday links!


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