Cherita – New Poetry Form

Many thanks to member Paula Song Sarmonpal for introducing us to this wonderful art form!  All the descriptions and thoughts and cherita on this page were written by Paula.  We are so inspired by her work, and we hope you will be equally inspired.  Some of our future writing contest prompts will be cherita, in addition to our regular haiku prompts.
CHERITA is a Malay word for story or tale. Its origins come from the oral traditions of immigrants settling into new countries such as Malaysia and recalling their old lives and traditions. It was resurrected by Ai Li and Larry Kimmel in 1997 and is now a recognised form.
It consists of a single stanza – one line verse, two line verse and three line verse. There is no title. It can also be inverted 3,2,1  or  2,1,3  or  1,3,2  or  2,3,1 or  3,1,2. It can also be a shared experience between 3 partners, although I am not keen on that! The cherita depends on conciseness and suggestion for effect. It is imagistic.
Although cherita was traditionally about life, love and loss and popular for those themes of family, wars, separation, and love, I myself do not adhere to those themes. I have always wanted humans and myself to be absent from the poem.
So the tree speaks, the flower speaks, and so on, without the filter of human knowledge and pre-conceived images. Art can sometimes be egotistical and contain too much of people’s own awareness of themselves. I like the story to tell itself…. if possible!!!
– Paula Song Sarmonpal
earth and rain
the sweet smell of spring
rising from a bowl
of hyacinths
on the
kitchen table
bluebells carpet the woods
the child
gentle singing
the apple tree
deposits blossoms
like secret letters
I like the cherita for its simplicity and fluidity. Having spent a lifetime of writing long poems, this simple form is quite refreshing to me.  You are not restricted by syllable count – so it flows the way you want it to.
– Paula Song Sarmonpal
the woodland is lit
with celandines
bright stars
with leaves of heart
on tender
under the full moon
the plum tree sparkles
filled with white stars
blossoms whose scent
triggers memories
of times past

Learn more about this author:

Paula Song Sarmonpal

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