History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Poetry Forms: Diminishing Verse

Diminishing verse is an interesting form. There aren’t requirements related to meter or rhyme, but instead to the last word of each line of the poem. You begin with one word at the end of a line, and then the next line removes one letter (or more, according to one source) from that specific word (but still needs to be a real word). You’re also not allowed to change the order of the letters in the word. You could start with a very long word and gradually reduce it to a much shorter word, or you can start with a shorter word that can be reduced over the course of a few lines, and then write multiple stanzas using a different starting word.

The trick that I’ve found to this poetry form is to find a good word that contains a lot of other words in one form or another. Then you’ve got a lot more room to gradually reduce the letters for multiple lines. I’ve also found that it lends itself well to prose poems rather than something with short lines, but your mileage may vary on that front! I found it easier to write longer lines so I could make the words I’d selected fit the “story” my poem was telling.


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