Here’s what the Fibonacci poetry form is:
The Fib (also known as the Fibonacci poem) is a six-line poem in which each line represents one entry in a mathematical pattern called the Fibonacci sequence.
The syllable counts for the lines are 1/1/2/3/5/8. The form originates from a 2006 blog post by Gregory K. Pincus.
So if you want to learn all about the Fibonacci poetry type, then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s get right into it!
Forms of Poetry: The Fibonacci Poem
The Fibonacci poem (aka the Fib) is a type of short experimental poem based on the Fibonacci sequence.
It has been compared to the haiku as a short poem with specific syllable counts on each line.
No meter or rhyme scheme is generally employed since only the syllable counts of each line are important to the structure.
The form in its current iteration was popularized by Gregory K. Pincus.
The idea of using the Fibonacci sequence in poetry dates back to at least 1974 and it has been explored with stanza lengths, but it didn’t catch on until Pincus’ simple six-line poem form was posted on his blog in 2006.
Since then his blog has remained the center of the form’s presence, but it continues to spread online.
As a product of the digital age, the Fib mostly finds its practitioners on online forums and communities.
It hasn’t been around long enough to undergo any sweeping evolutions, but it does have the advantage of being new in an era when communication technology is faster and more far-reaching than ever before.
Basic Properties of a Fibonacci
|2006; Gregory K. Pincus
|New; has a cult following online
How Is a Fib Structured?
The Fib is generally understood to be a six-line poem with syllable counts of 1/1/2/3/5/8 for a total length of 20 syllables, with no other requirements.
The Fib gets its name from a mathematical concept called the Fibonacci sequence.
The Fibonacci sequence is a pattern of numbering in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers.
So technically speaking the sequence goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on and so forth.
You could theoretically write out the Fibonacci sequence indefinitely.
The Fib that has achieved popular usage is a single sixain (a six-line stanza), but you could extend out the poem if you wanted to, by employing a few more numbers of the Fibonacci sequence for additional lines.
Unfortunately, it would become unwieldy rather quickly since lines of 34 or 55 syllables would be very uncomfortable to work with.
The naturally bottom-heavy structure of a Fib is interesting since it inherently means that your first few lines are usually only capable of setting up a few articles or adjectives to work with.
Enjambment is common since the initial lines are far too short to stand alone in most cases.
The first three lines typically only serve a functional purpose of starting the poem, while the real meat of the poem will be found in the bottom half.
It is possible to get the reader’s attention using just the first four words, but it certainly isn’t easy to accomplish.
Examples of the Fib
unable to leave
until after I have been seen.
Above is a quick example. Remember that the Fib doesn’t care about word counts, only syllable counts.
Aside from that it really is one of the most straightforward poem forms you could conceivably write in.
This Fib takes advantage of the naturally lopsided form to emphasize the slow movement of time in waiting rooms, but really it’s just a quick sentence in poem form.
You’ll notice that no punctuation is used.
Short poems have a tendency to invoke minimalism, so leaning into that just generally feels appropriate for the form.
right through, if you know,
at length, how to put on a show!
This second example takes a noticeably different approach.
All six lines of this Fib rhyme, which is quite unusual for the form, and they utilize heavy punctuation.
This gives the short poem a very busy and crowded feel, which goes rather well with the theme of pacing presented within the content of the poem.
Tips for Writing a Fib
Don’t try to fit anything even remotely complicated in a Fib.
20 syllables are the equivalent of just two lines of Shakespeare, so you’re not going to find enough space to write a compelling space opera or a satirical essay about Marxism.
Stick to simple abrupt messages or images.
Despite having a few more syllables than a haiku, the Fib can functionally be even more limiting since only the last few lines really have any bulk to them.
As such the majority of your content will be at the end of the poem.
It would not be wise to further constrain yourselves by adding new technical limitations unless you’re sure you’re able to make them work.
While a Fib that rhymes or that has every line starts with the same letter might be fascinating from a technical standpoint, it will represent a significant roadblock in practical terms since it isn’t pragmatic to try to achieve anything within overly stringent requirements.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this, it’s that the Fib isn’t meant to be a deep technical masterpiece or the Magnum Opus of your poetic career.
It’s just a fun little novelty form to pass a few minutes at a time with.
You might successfully write something beautiful or meaningful within a Fib, but that isn’t the point.
You’re just supposed to have fun.
This is probably why the Fib has so quickly gained a following.
It doesn’t have any lofty ambitions or greater purpose.
The standards of the poem are inherently arbitrary, and that’s okay.
The Fib is a toy to be played with briefly and then published on a whim or discarded just as easily.
Oftentimes, that’s all a poet really wants out of a new form.
You’re unlikely to find yourself drowning in awards and accolades if you only ever write Fibs, but not every poem you write needs to reinvent the wheel.
Sometimes it’s fun to just grab onto an interesting idea that someone came up with and see where it takes you.
Is it more fun to say Fibonacci or is it more fun to say Pincus?
They’re both delightful names to pronounce.
The Fib isn’t really one of my own favorites, personally, but its brevity makes for a nice change of pace in between longer projects.
I do wish the name “Fib” could have been reserved for a poem told only in lies though.
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