How to Write The “10×10”.

A few months ago, after I started the Décima Poetry Challenge, I was wanted to create something of my own, as I tend to do. A 10 line poem with 10 syllables per line. It was inspired by a poet named Vocabularical and his participation in the challenge. He was a cool guy, with awesome ideas, and a way with words. I mean, if you’re going to give yourself a name like Vocabularical…you better be good. I was originally going to name the poetry form a Vocabularicon, which I think if you want to, you can, and if you think about it, you definitely will need to use great vocabulary to deliver that 10×10 form, see the next paragraph for what I mean.

What changed with the form was the syllables. I still wanted them to be 10 per line. Then I participated in MMA Storyline’s 100 Word Flash Fiction Challenge. I thought this challenge is perfect for trying out my new style for the very first time. So, I wrote 10 lines, 10 words per line, with only 10 syllables per line. Yes, that means only one syllable per word. Your word choice is even more vital here than in other poems. Other than perhaps a Haiku, especially the 3/5/3 version, that’s syllables, not necessarily words or even the non-existent 1/2/1 I’ve tried**.

The quick and dirty instructions: (links are to

  • 10 LINES/verses
  • DIVIDED INTO 5 Couplets See the example below.
  • With Couplets, meter is important. “Essentially, meter is the basic rhythmic structure of a line within a poem or poetic work. Meter functions as a means of imposing a specific number of syllables and emphasis when it comes to a line of poetry that adds to its musicality.”
  • “The literary device “foot” is a measuring unit in poetry, which is made up of stressed and unstressed syllables… The combination of feet creates meter in poetry. Later, these meters are joined for the composition of a complete poem. Therefore, a foot is the formative unit of the meter.”


  • Think about it, if you can get the exact same number of letters per line, keeping to the other guidelines mentioned, that would be a nice accomplishment.

Below is an example of the 10×10/Vocabularicon.


Daddy’s Baby Boy

They sneak at night, to pick their mid, fall  gourd,

But they know not,  they have crossed the Dark Lord.


The clouds do glow, to buy the fools some time,

and lead the way, clear of his broods’ wet grime.


They come each year, to choose for their blithe signs.

and with plans made, hunt one with thick lush vines


Once they find him, his life’s line is cut short,

pray what comes next, you’ve heard tell of a sort


The Dark Lord comes, his rage steams up the night,

It’s All Saint’s Eve, and Dad’s set for a fright.

Most of us self-taught poets have used poetic meter and feet for the entirety of our poetic lives. Meter, for this poem, is the shared length of the verses and the rhyme pattern. The feet are either stressed or unstressed words. Stressed is when you go up on the word or syllable. Since this poetry form is restricted to one-syllable words, you stress a word. For this poem  I’ve made the first part of each verse four words long, and the second six. As you read you quickly pick up both the feet and meter patterns with ease. Or so I hope. But, for each person their might the opposite feet emphasis than another person reading it. Also, feet are not as simple as four words here and six words there, you should also listen to how your words are working together to accomplish a natural rhythm and not one that’s hunted for. As I’ve been working with these types of poems, I’ve been trying to do better with meter and feet, but still have a long way to go. But…I keep writing.

**My How To Write A Haiku Poem In English Form post has been updated with some added information.

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© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

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