G E M B U N   A N T H O L O G Y    G U I D E L I N E S

This is an open invitation for lovers of short form genres to submit Gembun for the proposed Gembun Anthology. All submissions will be selected, collated and edited by ai li, creator of gembun and cherita, and the anthology will be published by the 1-2-3 Press which publishes the cherita.

We invite you to submit your best Gembun for the Gembun Anthology. There are no deadlines. Submissions are on an ongoing basis.

ai li
, the creator of  gembun and cherita will read, select and edit all gembun submissions for the anthology.





looks like rain

bringing in

and dreams




dark night

let there

be lanterns
of fireflies




penny lane

will it ever

grow old
in song ?





swaying lanterns

those shanghai nights

when red was the colour
of a mouth






the skipping rope in a cul-de-sac

a child

who looks like me
becoming dusk





the ouija board

spelling out



ai li

all gembun copyright ai li 2021


For more examples of Gembun, please visit www.aili.co.uk/gembun/

Alternatively, ai li’s first book on Gembun, the weight of rain, which is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle, has a collection of 90 virgin gembun for reference.




Please do not send run-of-the-mill, conveyor belt, journal entries, religious or angry, political poems. There is always a place for these but they are not for this anthology.

Please send me your Gembun gems on Life, Love, Loss and Renewal

if you would like to see your accepted Gembun
published one to a page
in paperback and kindle
for maximum stillness
and impact.

Your Gembun is allowed to breath in all that space
and allows the reader to slow right down to appreciate
all your timeless stories.

They can cover births, deaths, anniversaries, betrayals, disappointments, abortions, bankruptcies, joblessness, vendettas, suicides et al; and also about travel, work, hobbies, light and dark passions, eating disorders, night shifts, cross dressing, the erotic, mindfulness and any other subject matter that I may have missed or forgotten. The list is endless.


Send your Gembun submissions to ai li at [email protected]/gembun
Please click and use the standard submission email above. Thanks.

All poems must be the author’s original work. We prefer previously unpublished poems. We will consider previously published Gembun from print or online journals, Facebook, twitter, blogs, social networking sites, personal websites, etc., only if you include appropriate acknowledgments and credits with these submissions.

We will disqualify all previously unpublished submissions which are under consideration elsewhere, or entered into competitions.

Some of you may have noticed from my examples on the cherita’s mailshot and above that I have tweaked the layout format of Gembun. The two stanzas are now left justified. It makes life much easier for me when I start collating. However I have left the original layout formatting on my personal website for Gembun as that was how I wrote the examples in 1997 when the genre was created by me.



The Original and Official Guidelines


G E M B U N [1-3 or 1-4] [pronounced Gem-Boon]

A Gembun is made up of either a one-word first link or anything up to one sentence, to be capped by a haiku of up to four lines.

The Gembun has to include an element of suggestion in either the opening sentence, the haiku or in both. It was created by ai li on the 12 June 1997, inspired by Larry Kimmel’s TIBUN.

Footnote Update September 2021:

Like most linked forms, Gembun can be written and used in a sequence if preferred but it remains at its most powerful as it was created – as 2 minimal stanzas that need no other distractions. After all, it is the older sibling of Cherita [only 10 days apart at birth] and they both share the same strong spirit of storytelling.

The Gembun and Cherita, in my opinion, embody the true essence of short form poetry which is saying more with fewer words.


ai li
creator of Gembun and Cherita
editor and publisher of the cherita




The original guidelines for Gembun are as above and are the only official valid guidelines for the Gembun genre. There can be no variations to these guidelines without the permission, consent and approval of ai li, the creator of the genre. All rogue attempts to vary these guidelines remain rogue attempts and should be ignored when you write Gembun.


The plural for GEMBUN is GEMBUN.

If a Gembun is titled, then it is rogue and not to be considered a Gembun.



copyright © ai li 2021





G E N E R A L   C O N D I T I O N S


Once we notify you that we have accepted your poems for publication, in the print, e-book, and/or online versions, please do not share or submit your work elsewhere until we have published your work, or the editor will withdraw your work from publication.

We also ask that you refrain from republishing your work in any medium [including facebook, instagram, twitter and blogs etc.] for 90 days from publication in the anthology.

the 1-2-3 press does not pay its contributors nor does it offer contributors’ copies, although they will be available for purchase. Copyright reverts to the author or artist upon publication.

the 1-2-3 press reserves the right to reprint contents from its publications on its website and in future print anthologies without having to seek further permission from its submitters, and all submissions to the Gembun Anthology constitutes acceptance of this condition.

the 1-2-3 press reserves the right to print online or in print journals and anthologies, in whole or in part, in its sole discretion, all letters and comments to the editor without having to seek further permission from the author, and submission of comments or letters to the editor of the cherita and the Gembun Anthology constitutes acceptance of this condition.




copyright © the cherita 2021