Do you like to learn things quickly? Rather than take weeks to learn an intricate new hobby, do you want a YouTube video to explain something, or better yet, a diagram? If you want to learn how to write a poem quickly, then learn how to write a diamante.
A diamante is a relatively new form of poetry. It originated in 1969 and was created by an American educator and poet, Iris Tiedt. However, like many classic poems, its name is Italian, and means “diamond.”
Why a diamond? Because the poem’s structure is intended to produce a diamond shape.
The idea of poems being shapes, or “concrete forms” is a much older idea. George Herbert, a 17th century English poet, has two poems “Easter Wings” and “Altar”, each shaped to reflect their subjects. Another concrete example occurs in the midst of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, when a small mouse gives his tale in a poem — shaped like a tail!
This is what a diamante looks like in basic form:
At its core, all you need is some creativity and a working knowledge of the parts of speech. See how the diamante is put together below.
Getting the picture, now? Learning how to write a diamante is much easier than writing a sonnet, with its careful rules, or a sestina, with its complex length. All you need is a subject, or some opposites, and sixteen words.
Now you grasp the idea of a diamante, you can see all the possibilities. But before we continue, let’s brush up on the three parts of speech used in diamantes. There’s a reason teachers like using these poems in the classroom; diamantes are good grammar practice.
- Noun — Person, Place, Thing, or Idea
- George Washington, Palace, Tiger, Freedom
- Adjective — Modifies or describes a noun or pronoun
- Brave, golden, ferocious, lasting
- Verb — An action
- Spoke, glittered, snarled, rang
Variations on a Diamond Theme
There are two basic types of diamante, the synonym diamante and the antonym diamante. Each follows the same basic structure, but in composition there are some differences that we’ll explain below, with examples.
The Synonym diamante begins with a noun and ends with a synonym for that noun. Say you start with the word “kitten”, you might end with the word “cat.” Perhaps, you start with “snow”; you could end with “winter.”
Visualizing this yet? If not, let’s take another look at the idea of a synonym diamante about cats.
You start with the noun, “kitten.” Now you need some adjectives. That is easy for kittens. You come up with a couple—fluffy, cuddly, there are so many choices!
Now for some verbs. What are some actions kittens or cats do? Jot them down.
Back to nouns. More verbs and adjectives—and then the parting noun, matching your first one, and you have written a synonym diamante.
It might look something like this:
An antonym diamante looks like a synonym, until you reach the middle nouns. There, one of two things happens.
- The middle nouns straddle the gap and could be applied to either opposing idea.
- Or the first two nouns connect with the initial subject, and the second two nouns lead to and introduce the opposite idea.
So it’s either:
For example, suppose you decided to write an antonym diamante about England and America.
You start with the word America or England, add some related words, and then you get to the middle of the diamante. What four nouns could describe both? Well. English, for one, since we both speak the language.
Football (even though our definitions are different, we do use the same word!)
Cities—you get the idea, all of these words relate.
Or maybe you decide to go opposite and so you throw in two nouns that are only British or American. You could use words like “wellies” or “rugby”, “Boston” or “baseball.”
Your diamante could look like this:
(Note: the verbs were harder to assemble for this antonym diamante until the author narrowed the focus to a specific event and idea.)
Putting it all Together
Do you notice how some of the words in the examples sparked memories? A diamante can showcase the power of association—hearing one word but thinking of an idea or event. The beauty of a diamante is that you can be simple, ironic, subtle, or bold.
The options for your own voice are extensive, so here are some general guidelines as you get started writing your own diamante.
Brainstorm. What do you want your diamante to be about? Write down possible words.
Look at your list. Do you have two words that connect, or two words that are nice opposites?
Take your pick. Synonyms or antonyms? Which kind of diamante do you want to write?
Start Writing. The poem begins!
Some Diamante Poetry Starters
Not sure where to begin even brainstorming? Now that you know how to write a diamante, you can compose one about:
- A place, or places, you love
- Another literary or cultural work (favorite tv show, anyone?)
- Food (why are there not more poems in praise of coffee?)
- An animal or pet
- Something in nature
- An abstract idea (patience, liberty, freedom, quarantine)
- Two of your favorite things that other people might not connect (for example, pizza and orange juice. Yes, we’re back to food.)
- A friend or family member
More Tips, Hints, and a Free Idea
As you write your diamante, pay attention to word length. If you’re writing a synonym diamante and you find your diamond off-balanced, try swapping words around. Use a dictionary to look up words—and a thesaurus to find synonyms or antonyms. Merriam Webster online is an excellent resource.
For example, this sample diamante:
Became this Canva graphic:
Hint: if you do use Canva, add each line of your poem separately, so it is easier to space.
DOUBLE HINT: your carefully spaced diamante will probably not copy and paste within documents. Even more reason to make a graphic to showcase your poem!
Summing it All Up
Now you know how to write a diamante. You can write with confidence; you have the tools. You know the structure and types. Have fun, be creative, and be ready to share your poetry with a friend. Or teach them how they themselves can write this simple but satisfying poetic form.