Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Writing Exercise – The Katuata (Mondo)

 by Ashley Lister

Have you been naughty?
Do you need a good spanking?
Which paddle should I select?

I have been naughty.
I deserve your punishment.
Please use the studded paddle.

We’re all familiar with the haiku: the poetic form, imported from Japanese culture, and interpreted by western poets as a three-line stanza with a syllable count of 5-7-5. 

Less familiar, but similar in many ways to the haiku, is the katuata.  In its Japanese form the poem was made up of 19 onji, which we’ve translated as syllables. Most authorities give the Katuata a three-line form structure of 5-7-7.

One of the popular applications of this form is the mondo: a poem traditionally written by two poets and presented in the form of a question and answer. The first stanza is the question, the second is the response.  

As a tool for helping with collaboration, this is clearly an apposite way to begin a writing partnership.  However, as a fun way of getting two characters talking, or simply challenging the artistic imagination, writing the brief exchange of a mondo at the start of a writing session is an effective way to kick-start creativity.

Your plans for tonight?
House of Cards or Breaking Bad?
Pretty Little Liars?

Let’s be more daring.
Forget this Netflix and chill
We’ll make our own blockbuster

As always, I look forward to seeing your poems in the comments box below.


  1. These don't quite strike me as Japanese...!

    I'll see what I can come up with.

  2. Catch (Katuata -- Mondo)
    By Lisabet Sarai

    Seine of red-dyed hemp
    constrains and liberates me.
    Carp flash in a shallow pond.

    In my scarlet net
    suspended, wet, you ripple.
    River singing over stone.

  3. Wow - that was certainly worth waiting for. That final line is such a striking image.

  4. Thanks! (I am pretty pleased with it myself.)

    I was aiming for a Japanese vibe. (No, I am not talking about an Asian sex toy LOL!)

    Surprising how long it took to craft this, though - a couple of hours for 38 syllables!


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