The liwuli is a poetic form derived from Asian (particularly Southeast Asian) literary and rhetorical traditions. The liwuli can be in any language, although it is most commonly composed in one or more of the major languages used in Malaysia and Singapore, where the form is most commonly practised.
The singular and plural of the noun liwuli are the same. While some have referred to multiple poems as "liwulis", this is incorrect. This similarly occurs with haiku, which is one of the predecessors of the liwuli form. Known users of the form include Singaporean poets Alvin Pang and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde.



In its most basic form, a liwuli consists of three stanzas:
1. The first stanza contains exactly 31 syllables in the form of a prose poem. The first stanza is phrased as imperatives or instructions.
2. The second stanza consists of 14 syllables, broken into 3 lines. The length and subject of each line is left to the poet's discretion.
3. The third stanza consists of 10 syllables, broken into 2 lines of discretionary length. The third stanza is phrased in terms of one or more questions.


An inverted version of the form, the iluwil, consists of the same tripartite stanza structure, but in reverse order of appearance. Some poems combine a set of each to form a double liwuli, also known as a liwuliluwil (or iluwiliwuli). Other variants include the liwulili, where a fourth stanza is appended to a regular liwuli, with the same rules as the first stanza. A liwuliiluwil by Ian Chung was recently featured at City Hall MRT in Singapore as part of "Poetry on Platforms", a programme sponsored by the National Library Board and National Arts Council.


  • Rob Walker, South Australian poet, wrote a liwuli on the demise of Abbott.
  • A meta-liwuli by Alvin Tan from SingPoWriMo 2016, assembled from muliple different lines across three years of the group.
  • A liwuli by Marilyn Tan on pangolin sex.
  • A liwuli dental riddle by Low Kian Seh.
  • A liwuli-udaiyaathathu by Wei Hsin Gui
  • A liwuli empat perkataan acrostic riddle by Joshua Ip.
  • A historical liwuli by Jerome Lim on the Japanese landing in Singapore, which is also an acrostic poem.
  • A liwuli by Tse Hao Guang of the Ghost in the Machine.
  • A liwuliiluwil by David Wong, summing up 2014.
  • A liwuli by Bobby Sun on twitter.
  • Siddarth Jain's liwuli on life.
  • Muslim Sahib Torun's liwuli on butter knives.
  • San's alternately-formatted liwuli, sewage on service. He also includes a definition.
  • A series of liwuliiluwil were created in Desmond Kon's eye/feel/write ek-phrastic project by Joshua Ip in response to Osang Won's "Blu_Ray B" - commentary by Desmond here in The Missing Slate.
  • The liwuli was featured as a prompt in Singapore Poetry Writing Month 2014, and several of the pieces were included in the resulting collection(s). Notes on the self-referentiality and persistence of the form surfaced in Collier Nogues' review of the first anthology.
  • Ng Yi-Sheng's commentary on the form's uptake in SingPoWriMo in his blog.
  • A liwuli on "One Nights"
  • Mike Hopkins of Adelaide has a liwuli on How to Drown A Cat. 
  • Multiple liwuli can be found in "Unfree Verse" edited by Tse Hao Guang et al, forthcoming in 2017 from Ethos Books - a historical anthology on form in Singapore.


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