Origin & Rules of the “Skinny” Poetry Form
The “Skinny” Poetry Form
The “Skinny” is a short poem 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. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must be comprised of ONLY one word. The Skinny was created by Truth Thomas in the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University (© 2005).
The point of the Skinny, or Skinnys, is to convey a vivid image with as few words as possible. Skinnys can be about any subject, although the form generally reflects more serious concerns facing humankind. Also, Skinnys can be linked, much like Haiku, Senryu or Tanka. (Note: As a matter of aesthetics, the plural form of The Skinny should be “Skinnys.”)
The Skinny Poetry Nation
The Skinny Poetry Nation is a literary journal for those who love, are learning, and have mastered the Skinny poetry form. it is based in Washington, D.C., and edited by Truth Thomas (in concert with a team of other D.C. based poets). To submit your Skinnys for publishing consideration, email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your poem, or poems, copied into the body of your email.
Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Washington, DC. His collections include: Party of Black, A Day of Presence, Bottle of Life, Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry, and the critically acclaimed children’s book, My TV is Not the Boss of Me, with illustrations by Cory Thomas. Founder of Cherry Castle Publishing, LLC, and a former writer-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), his poems have appeared in over 100 publications, including: Poetry Magazine, The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, and The 100 Best African American Poems (edited by Nikki Giovanni), and been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Thomas is the Editor-in-Chief of The Skinny Poetry Journal.
(photo by Melanie Henderson © 2022)