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


i read more than once the entire mail strewn with such beautiful works . There is a marvelousness that seizes, strikes, and inflicts sensations .
(i think even the imperfections––play a role in this shock appeal).

Vijay Prasad


Gembun terbalik is addictive!

Kala Ramesh


I am going through the Gembun in the anthology ‘evening’. It’s a beautiful collection of poems.

Thank you

R. Suresh babu


I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to you for beautiful and evergreen creative endeavours and support. I am honoured and humbled to receive the Gembun award and hope to keep contributing my writing efforts to the creative world.

Richa Sharma



Gembun Terbalik [3-1 or 4-1] now joins this genre. Please read on below.



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

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

There are now 8 Gembun Anthologies available for reading or research into the genre on Amazon in paperback and kindle, with gembun selected and edited by ai li. Each Anthology showcases 92 timeless virgin Gembun.

ai li
, the creator of  gembun, cherita and dua 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





Gembun Terbalik :


an autumn evening

moths are home




love letter
never sent


chanel no. 5




the storm
never heard






we have aged
come winter


how white the snow




petit fours
to sweeten the dark
of an urban cage


one songbird barely alive





a taste
borrowed honey


bee mine



ai li


all gembun copyright ai li 2023


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

Alternatively, ai li’s two books on Gembun, the weight of rain and blank screen, as well as eight Anthologies which are all available on Amazon in paperback and kindle, and can be used for reference if you are new to the Gembun genre.





Eight Gembun Anthologies have now been published and they are snow clouds, evening, paper talisman, windswept rain, deepening night, the old, white flowers and coming homeThese books are available in paperback and kindle on Amazon and from the Bookshop link on this website. To date, these books have been well received.

Anthologies 9, 10 and 11 are now complete and awaiting a final once over before they can be launched.

Anthologies 12 and 13 are meandering their way with the timeless gembun that are coming in.




Please note that we do not accept AI generated submissions.

ai li


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/Gembun Terbalik gems on Life, Love, Loss and Renewal

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

Your Gembun/Gembun Terbalik 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.

The copyright of all submissions to the cherita has to belong to the submitter, and the poem or poems have to be created by the submitter and not generated by AI [artificial intelligence].

Send your Gembun/Gembun Terbalik submissions to ai li at aili@thecherita.com
Please double click and use the standard submission email above.
Please do not copy and paste this link elsewhere to use as this will not work.

All poems must be the author’s original work. We prefer previously unpublished poems. We will consider previously published Gembun/Gembun Terbalik 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.




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.


G E M B U N    T E R B A L I K [3-1 or 4-1]  – inverted gembun [pronounced Gem-Boon Tur-Bar-Lake]

Gembun Terbalik now joins this minimal form and is an inverted Gembun. It is written with a haiku of 3 or 4 lines as its opening stanza and then capped by a one liner.

The Gembun and Gembun Terbalik have to include an element of suggestion in either the opening sentence or haiku, the haiku or opening sentence or in both. Gembun was created by ai li on the 12 June 1997, inspired by Larry Kimmel’s TIBUN. www.aili.co.uk/gembun/


Footnote Update September 2021:

Like most linked forms, Gembun and Gembun Terbalik 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, Cherita and Dua, in my opinion, embody the true essence of short form poetry which is saying more with fewer words.


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




The original guidelines for Gembun and Gembun Terbalik 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.

GEMIGA [gem-eager] is for Gembun with Art, and GEMROSE is for Gembun with Prose.

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



copyright © ai li 2023





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 cherita, the Gembun Anthologies and the Dua Anthology constitute 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, the Gembun Anthologies and the Dua Anthology constitute acceptance of this condition.

Published poets of cherita, gembun, dua in the cherita and all its publications, and other original genres created by ai li, will be informed if any of their poems are featured in any published and online essays, audio and visual interviews by ai li or featuring ai li.




copyright © the cherita 2023