Poetry Form Matters: Truth Thomas and The Skinny

An American poetry form by Truth Thomas

A Skinny is a short poem (a fixed form) that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line (however they can be rearranged). The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. (Note: Words in the last line of Skinnys do not have to match exactly words in the first line. They can have variations of root words, like Sestinas.) The Skinny was created by Truth Thomas in the literary crucible of the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University. The Skinny Poetry Journal (TSPJ) is based in Washington, D.C., and edited by Truth Thomas.

The point of the Skinny, or Skinnys, is to convey a vivid image with as few words as possible. Skinny poems can be about any subject. They can also be linked, like Haiku, Senryu or Tanka. To submit your Skinnys for TSPJ publishing consideration, email: theskinnypoetryjournal@gmail.com with your poem, or poems, copied into the body of your email. Here is an example of a Skinny:

Old Testament Kwon Do
Boards don’t hit back—you must
Boards don’t hit back, you must—

Truth Thomas
from Speak Water


(photo by Melanie Henderson)