Here is an overview of some of the major varieties of poetry! I hope you find the style that is a great match for you.

Haiku

The most common formulation of Haiku that you’re likely to encounter is the poem that is broken into three lines, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third. Matsuo Bashō is one of the most celebrated practitioners of this variety, and you can see why in poems like this:

An old silent pond

A frog jumps into the pond—

Splash! Silence again.

As you can see, this style of highly affecting poem can be written relatively quickly, and is a nice entry point for many fledgling poets. 

Sonnet

This form of poem got started in Italy in the 13th Century CE, and early examples are associated with ‘courtly love’, or love for a Goddess-like and unobtainable woman, written notably by Petrarch. Shakespeare wrote a particular variety of English sonnet which took the form of three quatrains (four line stanzas) followed by a final couplet, usually in the iambic pentameter he employed in his plays. Iambic pentameter refers to the five iambs, or two syllabled ‘feet’ in each line of poetry. So each line has ten syllables grouped into five lots of two syllables, with a short first syllable and longer second. This is a challenging form to write in, but is very rewarding to get right! The restrictions are also somehow generative. Here’s an example: 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Blank verse

This is metred verse (almost always iambic pentameter), but unrhymed! Perhaps surprisingly this is the most common form of poetry in English, with over three quarters of English poems reportedly written in this form. This one may be a bit easier to get into than the sonnet! 

Rhymed

You don’t need me to tell you about rhyme, except to suggest that perhaps lozange rhymes with orange. Right? I know. Everyone loves a rhyming poem. They perhaps work particularly in children’s poems, and short satirical or ribald forms, like Limericks. The rhyme can give comic emphasis, such as in The Man From Nantucket! There are lots of rhyme schemes to play around with such as ABAB where the lines marked A rhyme, and the lines marked B rhyme. Enjoy!   

Epic Poems

Ready to take on a longer tale? Try the epic poem! There are plenty of contemporary poets writing longer poems that relate a narrative. Some people give the epic a very specific definition such as Meyer’s “An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the mortal universe for their descendants, the poet and their audience, to understand themselves as a people or nation.” Sometimes contemporary epics are called verse novels such as Les Murray’s Fredy Neptune: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredy_Neptune 

Free verse baby! 

Write what you want, however you want, whenever you want! It’s your life and no one’s going to tell you how to live it. Check out Hera Lindsay Bird (NSFW) for some great examples! https://www.heralindsaybird.com/poetry.html

See some of the best ways to write obstacles here!


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Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration - Writing Journal · 29/04/2021 at 11:54 pm

[…] Check out which form of poetry you should write in here. […]

Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration - Letter Review - Helping Creative Writers Get Published, Performed, and Produced · 16/06/2021 at 9:52 am

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