How to Write A Dodoitsu Poem

Poetry is important. No less than science, it seeks a hold upon reality, and the closeness of its approach is the test of its success. – Babette Deutsch

Today I have another how to write a poem for you. Actually I learned about it not long before I started this post because I was looking for a new poem to write about that I had not yet done. I know that there are plenty of others that I have not yet done either, the one that is coming to mind is the sonnet, but this one looked fun so it is the one that we are doing today.

This is a syllable based poem since I tend to prefer those to rhyme based poems for some reason.

Anyways this is a Japanese poetic form that was developed in the Edo era, from 1603 to 1868. These poems were sometimes folk songs, most of the poems that we have from the Edo period were handed down orally and sometimes accompanied by a shamisen, a three-stringed instrument. The dodoitsu poem comes from the agricultural roots of the Gombei, the people of the land.

Dodoitsu poems tend to focus on either work or love with a comical twist at the end, or at least the poet tries to do this (not sure how well I succeeded with that part).

The poem itself consists of four lines with seven syllables on the first three lines, and five on the last.

Here is an example of that broken down for you:

Line 1: 7 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 7 syllables
Line 4: 5 syllables

Now that we’ve gone over how to write this fascinating poem, let’s try to write one.

The first thing to do is choose a subject. Personally I am going to stick with the traditional ones of love or work, but you can do as you wish. For this poem I am following the traditional subject of work, and the specific kind of work that this poem is going to focus on is writing because that is work even though there are times when it does not feel that way.

Once you have your topic it can be a good idea to take a few minutes and think about it. This is a short poem and you are going to have to squeeze everything that you want to say into just a few short lines.

I’m taking a minute or so, and writing those thoughts down. I feel like this is a good idea because it gives you a chance to realize what exactly is important to you in this poem.

After you have written down your thoughts, it is time to actually write the poem. It may take some tweaking to get it to work, but you can do it!

Here is my dodoitsu poem:

Random Writer

Words flow from writer’s fingers
Words so brilliant no one
Will get to see them until
The world turns around

As you can see this poem is not perfect. I actually just wrote it for this post, but I hope that it gives you a bit more of an idea of what this poem is about and how to write one.

I hope that this will inspire you to write a dodoitsu poem of your own! If you do I would love to read it!


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