When I was growing up as a teenager, I wasn’t privileged to have gone to college or take special classes to learn poetry or all the forms of poetry one could write in. It was in the times of struggle through divorces, death, and life that I found myself attracted and wanting to write my feelings upon paper. Poetry was a form that helped me draw upon my creative self.
It helped me move through my hard times and grow, it helped bring me to the person I am today. Of all the forms of poetry, I am drawn to free form, Haiku, Cinquain, and a new form named Rickameter verse.
I’m gonna create a list here of the basic forms of poetry in hopes of helping other readers,
“Read. Write. Learn Poetry“. And shortly I want to open some poetry challenges to you.
All examples and descriptions were gathered from Reading.Write.Think and Young Writers. Excluding the very last one poem form at the end of this page.
Acrostic Poem – Also called an alphabet poem, this poem has the subject written vertically, with each letter at the start of each line. The poem may or may not rhyme.
An acrostic poem written in English by Edgar Allan Poe is entitled just “An Acrostic.” Take notice of the first letter of each line. It spells “ELIZABETH.”
Elizabeth, it is in vain you say
“Love not”—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Xanthippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth—and veils thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect when Luna tried
To cure his love—was cured of all beside—
His follie—pride—and passion—for he died.
Ballad Poem – Often called a rhymic poem depicting a story, could be a love story or a tragic story, ballads usually form songs too.
A “ballad poem written by an anonymous author.
As I was walking down the street
I saw two people in secret meet
The second one said to the first
‘You have some news to quench my thirst?’
‘In behind the old, damp shed
There lies a noble man slain, dead
And no one knows he lies in strife
Except for his dog and lonely wife
With master gone where no one knocks
His dog has left to chase a fox
His wife has found somebody new
His house is left for all to view
Though it’s been empty for a while
We’ll be warm and dry in half a mile
For now, we can take comfort there
We’ll flee the place when it grows bare
Many people knew the noble man
But none do care where he has gone
Over his grave, all do ignore
The wind shall blow forever more.’
Cinquain Poem – This is a five-line poem that can be written in one of two ways: by counting words (1/2/3/4/1), or by counting syllables (2/4/6/8/2). Either way, the same basic structure applies. This type of poem does not have to rhyme.
A cinquain poetry written in English by a young writer Adelaide Crapsey is entitled “Snow.”
From blackening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of cold wind…Look up, and scent
Diamante Poem – Taking its name from the diamond shape, this poem is more flexible than it appears. Some diamantes focus solely on one subject, while others may show the differences between two opposing subjects.
2 adjectives that describe line 1
3 -ing verbs that describe line 1
4 nouns or a 4-word phrase showing transition
3 -ing verbs that describe line 7
2 adjectives that describe line 7
An example of a diamante poem written in English, author unknown.
Pedaling, spinning, weaving
Whizzing round corners, zooming along roads
Racing, roaring, speeding
Free Verse – Typically patterned by speech rather than meter, this form of poetry is very open to the author’s discretion and usually does not rhyme. Visual and sound effects are often employed. It can have as many lines as the writer wishes.
like the Sun.
The Sun is
is like the
It is so stunning.
Limerick poem – Often a humorous poem with a strong beat. Limericks are very light hearted poems and can sometimes be utter nonsense. They are perfect for kids to both read and write as they are short and funny.
A Limerick poem consists of 5 lines and should have a rhyme scheme of abba, this means lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme and line 3 and 4 rhyme. The 1st line usually begins with ‘There was a….’ and ends with a name, person or place. The last line of a limerick is usually a little far-fetched or unusual. Also, lines 1,2 and 5 should have 7 – 10 syllables and lines 3 and 4 should have 5 – 7 syllables.
An example of a Limerick Poem by famous poet Edward Lear
‘There was an old man with a beard
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared,
Two owls and a hen
A lark and a wren
Have all built their nests in my beard!’
Ode poem – is a lyrical poem, usually paying particular attention to a person or thing. It originated in Ancient Greece.
The structure of an Ode poem…
Odes use similes, metaphors and sometimes a technique called hyperbole.
An example of an Ode by an unknown author.
Ode to an Olive
You are as precious to me as any gem,
With your beautiful, pure skin as smooth as silk
And as green as grass in the summertime.
I love your taste and the smell of your tender fruit
Which hides beneath your green armor.
Olive, sweet, tasty Olive,
How I love you so and my meal times wouldn’t be the same
If you weren’t in my life.
Nothing can compare to you, nothing at all,
You are food of the gods, a king’s riches
And, most importantly, you are mine, oh Olive!
Senryu poem – The structure of a senryu is 17 syllable poem. It is an unrhymed Japanese verse. A senryu consists of 3 lines and 17 syllables.
An Example of a Senryu Poem
(5) Lovely red flower
(7) The buzzing bees really love
(5) Your pollen so sweet
Haiku poem – a Japanese poem which can also be known as a Hokku. A Haiku poem is similar to a Tanka but has fewer lines. A Haiku is a type of poetry that can be written on many themes, from love to nature. A Haiku consists of 3 lines and 17 syllables.
(5) The sky is so blue.
(7) The sun is so warm up high.
(5) I love the summer.
Tanka poem – Similar to the haiku, but consisting of 2 more lines. A tanka poem is a Japanese poem which can also be known as a waka or uta. A tanka consists of 5 lines and 31 syllables.
Line 1 – 5 syllables
line 2 – 7 syllables
line 3 – 5 syllables
line 4 – 7 syllables
line 25- 7 syllables
an example of Tanka
(5)I love my kitten.
(7) She is so little and cute.
(5) She has a pink tongue,
(7) And lots of long whiskers too.
(7) She purrs when I stroke her back.
Sonnet poem – a poem of sentiment, expressive or idea, consisting of 14 lines. Each line comprised of 10 syllables. Its rhymes are arranged according to one of the schemes – Italian, where eight lines called an octave consisting of two quatrains which usually open the poem as the question are followed by six lines called a sestet that is the answer, or the more common English which is three quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet. The structure of sonnet in English… abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
An example of a sonnet poem written by the unknown author.
(a) Scribbler! Oh what a joy you can find here
(b) Eric is the one that heads the great team
(a) Full of poems, stories, and happy cheer
(b) Hopefully, it will make our readers glean
(c) Bronte’s Grammar is full of homework help
(d) Guest authors revealing secrets galore
(c) While the tricky puzzles will make you yelp
(d) There is no way Scribbler! Will make you snore
(e) Eric will start a tale needing an end
(f) Fancy a challenge? Puzzle Time is here
(e) Shakespeare picks the great pictures you all send
(f) Every issue’s jam-packed, let’s give a cheer
(g) How ’bout finding Eric hidden away
(g) Jump on the Scribbler! Wagon, come and play!
Rictameter Verse – From all the poem forms here, I have come to find a new type a poetry it is the Rictameter verse. This poem uses 9 lines in the poem, and strict syllable counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 with the first line repeating itself in the last line. This style of writing can be a rhyming sequence or non-rhyming lines.
I’m leaving an example of one of my Rictameter Verses here.
Souls filled with joy.
We’re drawn to this kindness.
Ones who fill empty hearts with love.
Hope and positivity are their gifts.
Laugh, listen to their rhythm of life.
Dream beside us. With us.
©Linda J. Wolff 2017 – http://www.urbanpoetry2017.com
These are just a few of basic poetry format an author can write, there are so many that it is difficult to list them all here. But I think I have covered the most favorite kinds of poetry written today!
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