A Writer's Handbook

Shanzi: A Meditative Delight

The Shanzi is a fascinating and flexible new form. In December 2005 Andreas Gripp, a Canadian poet living in London, Ontario announced his newly created form. 

The Shanzi is written in 7 lines with breaks of 2, 2 and 3. The poem contains 31 syllables arranged in this manner: 4-5, 5-4, 4-4-5. 

The first 2 lines introduce the image/subject; the next 2 lines amplify what is affected by the image/subject; the last 3 lines focus on a new image/subject that complement and provide a meditative conclusion. Shan-zi may be titled.

Andreas provides this Shanzi poem as an example:

Backyard In June

In the garden
butterfly and moth

Petals undisturbed
by quiet flight

Tender breezes
and my breathing
embrace the silence

The Shanzi, "Backyard In June" by Andreas Gripp, presents a familiar early summer experience with delicate images and a pleasant surprise. In the first two couplet verses the surroundings of a June garden where butterfly and moth fly undisturbed among the blooms introduce a serene setting with an economy of words; these carefully selected images paint a picture of quite and solitude. The third verse introduces the
complementary elements of "tender breezes" and a human "breathing" vividly captured together, wrapped in the "embrace" of "silence". All of the images complement both the act of breathing and the environment of "silence" in a June garden. The use of sound in the repeated consonance of the "b" sound in the words "Backyard", "butterfly", "Undisturbed", "by", "breezes", "embrace", and "breathing" provides a gentle but unifying effect that reinforces the nature images in the poem with the imitated sound of a pleasant breeze.

This Sketchbook collection of Shanzi demonstrates the range of topic and subject poets have expressed using this admirable form. In this issue five writers have contributed Shanzi poems: Gerry Bravi, John Daleiden, Andreas Gripp, Karina Klesko, Clive Oseman 

John Daleiden

Read the Shanzi poems in Sketchbook

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