Writing in Form: The Fib

Nancy Flynn Apostrophe Blog Archive, Writing

The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

Photo by Esdras Calderan

Recently, I had some fun writing in a new-to-me poetry form called the fib. I am hardly a mathematics nerd—in fact radically far from it. But playing around with these constraints was actually entertaining. And I found it a useful way to uncover the gist and pith of a few old poems that needed significant revisiting and revising.

The fib is an experimental Western poetry form—bearing similarities to haiku but based on the Fibonacci sequence—invented by Gregory K. Pincus in 2006. The typical fib is a six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8, with as many syllables per line as the line’s corresponding place in the Fibonacci sequence. Some folks argue that the true first number of the Fibonacci sequence is actually a zero in which case we could imagine each of these fib poems beginning with a beat of silence.

For the 6-line poem that means:

  • 1 syllable for first line
  • 1 syllable for second line
  • 2 syllables for third
  • 3 syllables for fourth
  • 5 syllables for fifth
  • 8 syllables for sixth

I started with a “blob” of text, a rambling journal entry that I’d written about a power failure in our driveway greenhouse during a cold snap. Then I proceeded to whittle away, searching for the punchiest nouns, verbs, and adjectives that could work in such a pared-down form yet still convey meaning.

Below are the first four stanzas of the poem, “Elemental Spiral: Another ‘Freak’ April Snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest.” I like how they just decided that they wanted to spiral down and across the page—form and function uniting?

breakers trip,
birdbath icebergs float
above an avalanche of slush

more to drink
the weight of sodden
camellia blossoms fallen

when they drop
but then you rescue
one bouquet of white narcissus

the greenhouse,
reassure the starts
the temperature will swiftly climb


Nancy Flynn
Follow me
Latest posts by Nancy Flynn (see all)