Crazy Forms Monday: The Jebjeb

Every Monday we will be publishing a new crazy form of poetry for you to try.  This is for those who find the sestina a breeze and the villanelle a walk in the park.  This week’s installment, The Jebjeb, created by Jeb Herrin.

What you’ll need:

Ø     1 random book/magazine/essay/collection of words

Ø     1 quarter

Ø     random number generator (between 1 and 12)

Ø     Wikipedia access

The Epigraph:

Ø     Open your book to a random page.

Ø     Drop your quarter so that it lands on the page.

Ø     Whatever phrases are partially covered by the quarter will be used to create the epigraph (I’m a fan of verbal phrases in particular, but I’ll give you some freedoms here)

Ø     The major theme of your epigraph will be what you search for on Wikipedia, as well as the basis of your poem. You may find it necessary to add words to create the epigraph. Make as few additions as possible.

The Stanzas:

Ø     Roll for number of stanzas

Ø     Roll for number of lines per stanza (roll once per stanza, so you should get a different number for every one)

Ø     For each stanza, roll again for rhyme scheme:

o     If first roll is odd, no rhyme scheme

o     If first roll is even, roll again for end rhyme (odd), or internal rhyme (even)

§     For end rhymes, choose your own rhyme scheme (AABBCC, ABCABC, whatever. It’s cool, I trust you on this one.)


This is where it gets fun. Remember the theme of your epigraph? Pull that bad boy up in Wikipedia. (If you’re unfamiliar with the topic, now is a good time to take a quick read-through. If you want it to be more interesting, don’t familiarize yourself with the topic, and see what comes about.) Now pull your random number generator back out.

Ø     Your first roll will be for a paragraph. Roll a five, go to the fifth paragraph, a twelve, the twelfth paragraph. Easy enough.

Ø     Your second roll will be for which word will be the basis of this stanza (one main word per stanza). Only count nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.

Ø     Base that stanza on the word, but the word need not be included in the stanza.

Ø     Any fictional people placed in your poem will be named after whatever authors’ names sound appealing in the “References”, “Further Reading”, and “External Links” sections at the bottom of your article.

Now that you have all the information, write your awesome poem. Don’t forget to name your bastard child once you’re done.

The following page is a quick example of how the process should look:
Book:   Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Phrases:  brain the lot of you

know my sincerity

raised my club

proved unnecessary

Epigraph:  [To] know my sincerity [to] brain the lot of you, [it] proved unnecessary [to have]   raised my club.

This is where the Wikipedia search gets tricky, but first, let’s see what our poem will look like:

Stanzas: 5

Lines/Stanza: 2  Roll again (2 = even = rhyme; 10 = even = internal rhyme)

11 Roll Again 5, no rhyme

3 Roll Again 8, 9 = internal rhyme

7 Roll Again 2, 11 = internal rhyme

6 Roll Again 3, no rhyme

Now, there is nothing particularly fun to search for given our epigraph, so what to do? We can be boring and do searches for things like “club” or “brain” or “sincerity”. Ugh. Or, let’s look for an instance where someone actually brained somebody and it became part of public record. To the Google Machine!

Keeping with the Abraham Lincoln vibe, I came up with “Caning of Charles Sumner,” an incident in which “representative Preston Brooks brutally beat Senator Charles Sumner after Sumner gave an impassioned anti-slavery speech” on May 22, 1856. What fun!


Have a crazy form you want us to try.  Send it to our Managing Editor, Erin Elizabeth Smith, at!

Jeb A. Herrin is a senior at the University of Tennessee where he is studying Creative Writing. He was a Medic with the 3rd Infantry Division during Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. In the Spring, he plans to serve as the Community Relations Intern for Sundress Academy for the Arts. When he’s not writing, Jeb enjoys touring military history museums and Civil War battlefields.


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