Spring into Poetry: Try A Diminishing Verse

Meadowy, blue sky abstract background with book that has wildflowers sprouting from its pages. Text: San Jose Public Library's Spring Into Poetry Contest.

Need some inspiration for the Spring into Poetry Contest? Why not try your hand at a Diminishing Verse! Also called a pruning poem or a vanishing poem, diminishing verse is a fairly new poetic form. There aren’t many rules for this style. The main feature of this poem type is that whatever word you end a line with, the next line should end with that same word minus 1 letter (typically the first letter). So, if your first line ends with chair, your next line should end with hair and the next air. Once you’re out of words you can make, start again with a new word.

Since this is a newer style of unknown origin, there are other variations you can play with. Try taking a letter off the end instead (ex. used, use, us). Try taking away multiple letters (ex. hidden, hide, hi). There are even examples of slightly altering spellings as long as you’re still taking letters away (braille, rail, ale).

Make things as easy or as challenging as you’d like for yourself. General rule of thumb is to keep the letters in the same order. Once a letter is taken away, they can’t be added back letter (ex. If hidden becomes hid, you can’t use hide after). I tried it myself and here’s what I came up with:

We claimed this place when where we were small

The boarded-up disco right behind the mall

This place we once loved best of all

It might collapse now, it’s on the brink

Disco died and killed our rink

But I found our initials in faded ink

I don’t know this poem it will win any contests, but I did have fun! Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.

Learn more about Diminishing Verse

More Resources on Poetic Forms

Cover of A Kick in the Head: Ann Everyday Guide to Poetic FormsCover of Read, Write, Recite HaikuCover of What is Poetry?Cover of Sophie and Sadie Build a SonnetCover of Read, Recite, and Write List PoemsCover of Write Your Own Haiku For KidsCover of Read, Write, Recite Concrete PoemsCover of Ana and Adam Build an AcrosticCover of Life in Numbers: Write HaikuCover of the Everything Writing Poetry BookCover of All the Fun's in How You Say a ThingCover of A Poetry Handbook by Mary OliverCover of Rules for the Dance by Mary OliverCover of The Making of a PoemCover of The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco