Month: April 2022

A Square Poem…or Two

Last week was the first I’d heard of the Square Poem or the Square Stanza. It is an utterly fascinating concept and [not-surprisingly] quite hard to pull off.

The trick is that the poem should read the same vertically down the page and horizontally across the page. Obviously then, and also to make it a true ‘square’, the number of words per line must equal the number of lines. This form is attributed to Lewis Carroll – you can read his creation here: The Society of Classical Poets.

After a zillion tries, here is what I came up with. This is 3×3 square poem:

Until life ends
life is love…
ends love…beginnings

Here’s where it shows what I mean about the poem reading the same way down the page as it reads across the page

old couple holding hands in hospital
Photo by Muskan Anand on

Here is another one – this time, a 4×4 Square Poem

Pain is sullen companion
is persistent distracting rhythm
sullen distracting relentlessly punishing
companion rhythm punishing me

person sitting on floor with arms around knees

Try writing one yourself. Remember only that the more words you strive for per line, the harder it becomes to write something that makes sense.

There are other mathematical forms of poetry – and also what is called the ‘Classic’ Square Poem [or the ‘Syllable’ Square as opposed to the Carroll Square] – where the number of syllables per line equal the number of lines in the stanza. Read more about the various forms in the links in this post.

Have fun experimenting! I did…

Prices slashed #Sale – InVerse Medicine – #poetry ebook is available at 40% off for readers in US, UK, CA, AUS

InVerse Medicine: These are poems about conversations that we’d like to have with ourselves and with others when our bodies and minds are fraying…

There’s struggle and triumph, loss and humanity within the pages of this eclectic collection of verse.

Reviews of the book

Our reading can thus attune us to how poetry listens, speaks and heals with empathy, and Dhaliwal crafts each poem with this explicit tenor.

Dr Gayathri Prabhu, Poet, Novelist, & Associate Professor,
Manipal Centre for Humanities, Manipal

The author wields her words like a scalpel in this cleverly titled collection of ‘medical poetry’. They cut to the chase, they spill the lifeblood of an existence dedicated to saving others in various ways while also saving oneself.

Devika Fernando, Poet & Romance Writer,

We often forget that doctors are human beings. We forget that there are emotions, passions, fears, and so many feelings behind their surgical masks. Doctors are not robots. They feel everything just like you and me. 

Sudesna Ghosh, Romance Writer,

This collection should be a required starting point for any medical student or their seniors to explore together this multifaceted intersection of patient and professional lives. The way the ‘I’ changes in each poem is beautifully handled and makes the collection genuinely moving and thought provoking.

Ruth Chalkley, Neurology patient,
Sheffield, UK

These poems have a direct and easy style that lends itself to reading, capturing the silences between the lines and drawing in the reader early in the narration. The settings are familiar to any practitioner: the ward, the ICU and clinic. The gaze moves from doctor to patient, from mother to child, the dying to the living.

Dr Olinda Timms, Division of Health and Humanities,
St John’s Research Institute, Koramangala, Bengaluru
in: Indian Journal of Medical Ethics