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How to Write Lune Poetry: 4 Examples of Lune Poems

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 27, 2020 • 2 min read

If you’ve experimented with writing haiku poems before, try your hand at lune poetry, a related poetic form.



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What Is Lune Poetry?

A lune poem (aka American haiku), is a short poem with just three lines, similar to the form of Japanese poetry called haiku. Lune poetry originated when American poets noticed that writing a haiku in English isn’t the same as writing one in Japanese. Japanese words tend to have more syllables than English words, allowing English-language haiku poets to cram more words into the form.

New York-based poet Robert Kelly first created the lune in the 1960s. The Kelly lune consists of three English syllables in the first line, five in the second, and three in the last. It was named after its shape, which resembles a crescent moon. Later, poet Jack Collom came up with the word-count-variant lune that is more popular today: three words in the first line, five in the second, three in the last.

How to Write Lune Poetry

The simple structure of lune poems makes them a great learning tool for children and beginning poets since they don’t have to keep track of the syllable count. Although the form is strict, it leaves room for plenty of flexibility. Each line can stand alone as a complete thought, or the lines can run into each other (known as enjambment).

Collum lune poems have the following structure:

  1. First line: three words
  2. Second line: five words
  3. Third line: three words

Kelly lune poems follow this structure:

  1. First line: three syllables
  2. Second line: five syllables
  3. Third line: three syllables
Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry
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4 Examples of Lune Poetry

Get inspiration for writing your own lunes from these examples of the form.

The following three-line poems are Collum lunes, which are based on a word count of 3/5/3.

Barbecue under snow
Waiting for winter to end
So am I

Little blue egg
Covered in dirt and feathers
Crack and fry

The below are examples of Kelly lunes, which adhere to a syllabic count of 3/5/3.

In my head
Little bunch of words
What is it?

The sun sets
Turkeys flee in fear
Soon we feast

3 Differences Between Lune Poems and Haikus

Both haikus and lune poems consist of a tercet (a three-line stanza), but there are a few key differences between the two:

  1. The Japanese haiku form consists of five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Depending on the type of lune poem, it will have either three syllables or three words in the first line, five syllables or words in the second line, and then three syllables or words in the third line.
  2. Traditional haikus typically feature nature as the subject matter—or at least contain one nature word. Lune poems do not always contain references to nature.
  3. Haiku should include a “cutting word” in either the second or final line that divides the poem conceptually and opens it up to multiple interpretations. (Similar to how a sonnet’s final couplet often includes a twist.) This cutting word is not necessarily included in lune poems.


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