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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Nonfiction: 631 words
Featured Form
By Clare MacQueen

MacQ’s First Cheribun!

(An informal intro, with links to eight cheribun)

As some of our readers may know, the cherita is a six-line micro-poem which distills a story into three stanzas, with a line structure of (1-2-3): the first stanza contains one line, the second has two, and the third, three.

I reiterate my happy thanks to poets Peter Jastermsky and Gary S. Rosin for introducing me to the cherita form and its variations: Jastermsky with his untitled cherita sequence [receding], published in Issue 8 of KYSO Flash; and Rosin with an inverted cherita in his collaborative chaiga Don Quixote on the Shore (with George Digalakis), published in Issue 5 of MacQ.

Inverted cherita also contain six lines but switch the order of stanzas: (3-2-1), (2-1-3), (1-3-2), (2-3-1), or (3-1-2). Malay poet and publisher ai li, who founded the cherita form in 1997, refers to these inversions as “Cherita Terbalik” (terms and guidelines may be found at The Cherita home page, https://www.thecherita.com/).

ai li also coined the terms “chaiga,” a melange of the words cherita and haiga, which refers to the melding of cherita and visual artwork; and “cheribun,” a melange of the words cherita and haibun, which refers to the combination of cherita and prose. (Haibun, of course, is a much older form, created in the 17th century by Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, and refers to haiku juxtaposed with prose.)

And now, a deep bow of appreciation to poet Margaret Dornaus for giving me the opportunity to further expand MacQ’s collection of heavenly hybrids, with the publication of her first cheribun, “The Writer’s Cabin.”

Not only is this the first cheribun I have the honor and pleasure of reading and publishing (taking into account 10 previous issues of MacQ and 12 of KYSO Flash)—but it also seems to be the first published anywhere online. Even after searching via Google for hours (literally), I found no cheribun. I did find several cool chaiga though. Interestingly enough, ai li does not publish either of these hybrid forms in her journal The Cherita.

As Ms. Dornaus mentioned to me in email, she had not read any cheribun before, but she would like to read some. Me, too, I was thinking, I’d love to see more of these. Her remarkable cheribun was my first experience with another new-to-me hybrid, and I was immediately enamored.

Which inspired me to post an impromptu call for cheribun on three Facebook groups. Within a week, I had received 15 pieces, and happily selected seven of them for this issue. I’m truly delighted when fellow writers accept a challenge like this on such short notice and with such enthusiasm, when folks are willing to take risks with an unfamiliar form and to experiment, just to see what happens. This process often brings with it the “gift of surprise and discovery” (as one lovely poet wrote to me).

Appearing first on the list below: Margaret Dornaus’s trailblazing work, “The Writer’s Cabin”—noteworthy, too, for its trio of cherita interspersed throughout poetic prose, which in concert create seamless rhythms in homage to a revered natural historian.

The additional seven cheribun, each singular in its own way I believe, are listed in the order that I received them. My heartfelt gratitude to all of these fine writers for contributing marvelous works. And I hope our readers enjoy this new-to-MacQ Featured Form as much as I do!

  1. Margaret Dornaus: The Writer’s Cabin

  2. Jackie Chou: Kismet

  3. Peter Jastermsky: Pathways

  4. Peter Jastermsky: On the Runway

  5. Amy Small-McKinney: This Is Being Alive

  6. Kath Abela Wilson: greeny flower

  7. Gary S. Rosin: Designated Driver

  8. deb y felio: Breaking Through

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