“Promises,” #Gogyoka

Thanks to Ken Gierke, I’ve added the Gogyoka in English to our syllabic poetry forms, bringing the count up to ten.

The Gogyoka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh) form is a five-line Japanese form with no restriction on length. Created by Enta Kusakabe in 1983, there are five rules:

  1. Gogyohka is a new form of short poem that is based on the ancient Japanese Tanka and Kodai kayo.
  2. Gogyohka has five lines, but exceptionally may have four or six.
  3. Each line of Gogyohka consists of one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.
  4. Gogyohka has no restraint on numbers of words or syllables.
  5. The theme of Gogyohka is unrestricted.

Robert Lee Brewer from Writer’s Digest shares:

What constitutes a phrase in gogyohka?

From the examples I’ve seen of the form, the definition of phrase is in the eye of the beholder. A compound or complex sentence is probably too long, but I’ve seen phrases as short as one word and others more than five words.

So it’s a little loose, which is kind of the theory behind gogyohka. It’s meant to be concise (five lines) but free (variable line length with each phrase). No special seasonal or cutting words. No subject matter constraints. Just five lines of poetic phrases.

Robert Lee Brewer

So, using this week’s #PhotoPrompt image from my poetry challenge, I’ve written the simplest of forms – The Gogyoka in 5 lines, short phrases:

Image ©2019 Willow Willers


blossoms bring happiness
buds produce fertility, joy
peacock reveals beauty
vines promise longevity, perseverance
soul awakens from the lotus

©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro

43 thoughts on ““Promises,” #Gogyoka

        1. Colleen, I love this new form and you have taken it and flown. There is one thing that I love more and that is how much imagination, beauty and poetry this photo has inspired.💜


    1. Thanks, Ken! I was surprised at how difficult it felt to come up with meaningful phrase in this form… but once I did it, I realized how impactful this five lines are! I’m so glad you suggested the form! ❤️


  1. I had to try this, Colleen, so I gave you a shout out in my post responding to other prompts. I found a few sites relating to the Gogyoka (they are insecure so I didn’t want to share the links), and wow, there are so many different ways this form can be written! Here is my endeavor – https://amanpan.com/2020/01/25/happiness/


  2. Thank you for the guidelines for writing gogyohka and your lovely example of the form. Writing in phrases seems close to creating a collage or a still life.


  3. Ah… I did miss this, but I saw it over at “Elizabeths” and added it to my own forms list.

    I like how you used it – very serene. Pairs well with the image.

    Looking forward to trying out this form… eventually.

    Kind of like a Tanka without a line space – though not everyone include it… and it’s that short as a breath thing too. Though I was reading about breathing techniques and some slow breathes can be quite long… 😉


      1. I was watching a Brain Games show where folks were learning to ‘breath up’ – This one gal wanted to hold her breath under water for more than half a minute. After learning the process… on the show she held her breath for 2 minutes! But the instructor said the record for holding one’s breath was up to 12 minutes! That’s one long breath! Could be at least a short paragraph 😉


        1. Ha, Ha, Ha, Jules! There is so little information on what constitutes a breath or a phrase. Knowing the Japanese and their intentions with poetry, I tend to think that phrase is a more accurate depiction of the length of words. Some Gogyoka are only a word or two making them a five-lined, abbreviated Haiku. Maybe that is the fun in the form—almost anything goes.


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