Poetry for some seems to be a writing style that is confusing. Old world poets and critics are caught in formulas and do not understand passion. The world of words has changed, and there really is no such thing as a mistake in poetry. The most modern form, which is read the most is “Free Verse” where the emotion behind the message is what is most important and captures the readers within the folds of the verse. Another popular style of poetry is dark or gothic poetry in which the subject matter is a little ‘off kilter.”
by Tilly Rivers
Popular among the teenage readers is what has been referred to as “ghetto” poetry. This poetry has a rough edge and delivers messages related to drugs, the homeless and the darker side of street living.
Modern poetry or “Free Verse” is what most publishers look for. From poetry magazines, both traditional paper print versions to online venues. That being said however, I encourage poets to try all forms of poetry, if for no other reason than the challenge and joy of learning a new skill. Other publishers are poetry style or theme specific, as always before approaching any publisher, from traditional to online- research what styles are most popular. This is easily done by reading what has been published in the past.
Below is a list of Poetry types, and a brief description, this is not a complete list of all poetry types, just my personal favorites.
ACROSTIC-Acrostic poetry is created from a single word. Each letter begins a line. The sentiment of the poem usually defines the word. Any syllable count or rhyme scheme can be used.
BLANK VERSE-Unrhymed verse written in lines of matching length in regular feet. Can be written in tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter, etc, and in any traditional form: sonnet, villanelle, and so on. May be written in any meter as long as there are no end rhymes. Most often found in ten syllable lines, usually in iambic pentameter. Loosely put BLANK VERSE is a non-rhyming poem written in a standard or traditional poetry form.
CINQKU (en trio) - CINQKU is a western version of haiku wherein there is a strict syllable count (2,3,4,6,2) making 17 syllables on 5 lines. It generally is given no title, no meter, and is free in diction and syntax.
CINQUAIN is a formal type of poetry consisting of one five line stanza. Purists follow this guideline: The first line is usually one word, a noun. The second line is two words where the noun is described. Third line is three words consisting of action. The fourth line is four words evoking feelings, and the fifth line is a noun, usually another word for the first noun
COUPLETS-A couplet consists of two lines of poetry. Sometimes they rhyme with one another. Other times, they are connected to one or more couplets wherein a rhyme scheme emerges. And sometimes, there is no obvious rhyme scheme. In that case, the poet should remember to count the syllables in the line, or add internal rhyme and alliteration. Couplets can be in tetrameter (eight syllable lines) , or rhyming couplets without metered line count.
DIMETRIC RIDDLE-Dimeter is a line of poetry with two feet. Each foot has two syllables. little poems that have three lines in a single stanza qualify as a tercet, and if each line rhymes, it is technically, also, a triplet.
DORSIMBRA-Dorsimbra poetry is made up of three quatrains. The first and twelfth lines are the same. Generally, the first quatrain is Sicilian—four lines iambic pentameter rhymed abab. The second quatrain is snappy free verse. The third quatrain is blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter. The best ones use enjambment, internal rhymes, and slant rhymes to bind the three stanzas.
FORM POETRY refers to any organized and defined, or formal piece of poetry that fits a specific set of guidelines. There are innumerous forms of poetry. These are generally referred to as TRADITIONAL POETRY. Fixed form poetry. Nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas: five tercets (aba) or triplets, and a final quatrain. As noted, the first and third lines of the initial tercet rhyme. These rhymes are repeated in each subsequent tercet and in the last two lines of the quatrain (abaa) . Line one appears in its entirety as lines 6,12, and 18. Line three reappears as lines 9,15, and 19
FREE VERSE-Award-winning free verse contains imagery and emotion. This is not motivated by formula but passion. FREE VERSE is any poetry that does not conform to a set poetry form.
HAIKU-Most haiku are written in three lines with seventeen syllables: 5,7,5. They can be written in two lines, or in a lesser syllable count. Usually the top two lines flow together, and are indirectly related to the last line. Topic always includes nature. Rhyme is avoided. No title is required, but are sometimes added for publication or contesting purposes. HAIKU is a Japanese form of poetry consisting, most often, in three lines with 17 syllable counts of 5-7-5. A “ku” should not be a run-on sentence. It should have a noticeable break of syntax. Haiku is always about nature. Good haiku will give an insight or vision of the poet’s feelings about that which is depicted.
LIMERICK-A five-line poem, the limerick has a rhyme pattern of aabba. They are supposed to be humorous and bawdy, with the last line delivering a kick.
LIST POETRY- List poetry is similar to found poetry. It, of course, must contain a list of some kind. You can set your own rhythm, and make it rhyme, if you want. Rhyme and meter are not required. The key to this form is creating a rhythm or lyrical quality. Stanzas can be of any length, and varied.
SENRYU-Senryu follows the same guidelines as haiku (three lines,5,7,5 syllable structure) , except the topic is human nature. SENRYU is a Japanese form of poetry consisting, like Haiku, in a set-up (usually) of three lines with a syllabic content of 5-7-5. It is always about human nature and the last line should be quirky, insightful, humorous or satirical.
SONNETS-Modern sonnets use contemporary language and subject matter. They consist of fourteen lines, three stanzas of four lines, and a couplet at the end. The type of sonnet depends on the rhyme scheme, whether or not each line contains iambs, and the line syllable count. Traditionally, the subjects of sonnets included romance, life, death, and faith, and exhibit emotions like torment or joy. The language was more stilted, too. Sonnets can be written on any subject and include humor and/or fantasy.
RHYMING POETRY—Rhyming poetry is a poet’s license to create their own rhyme scheme and syllables. RHYME is when two words sound alike. EXTERNAL RHYME refers to the ending words in each line of a rhyming poem. INTERNAL RHYME refers to the use of rhyming words within a piece of poetry, that doesn’t fall at the end of the line breaks. RHYMING POETRY is any piece that follows one of any number of rhyme schemes, patterns, or forms. SLANT RHYME refers to two words that sound similar. Slam/slim, Kit/Kat, and Lid/Led are examples of slant rhymes.
Rondeau- is a French style of poetry based on the rondel (round) . Standard form consists of fifteen lines in three stanzas. The first stanza is a quintet (five lines, aabba) . The second stanza is a quatrain (four lines, aab, plus refrain R—which is the first half the first sentence of the first stanza) . The third stanza is a sestet (6 lines rhyming aabb plus refrain R) .
TANKA-Thirty-one syllables in five lines: 5,7,5,7,7. Better tanka, like all good poetry, evokes emotion. The best poetry also brings a physical image alive or titillates one or more of your senses.
TERCET-Three lines in a stanza create a tercet.
VIGNETTE POETRY-Relay a short moment in time with visual and emotional impact. Rhyme and specific meter are not required. Alliteration and internal rhyme are virtual necessities. VIGNETTE is a narrative poetry that illustrates a moment in time. It can be written in any traditional form or free verse.
VILLANELLE- is a traditional form of poetry. Nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas: five tercets (aba) or triplets, and a final quatrain. As noted, the first and third lines of the initial tercet rhyme. These rhymes are repeated in each subsequent tercet and in the last two lines of the quatrain (abaa) . Line one appears in its entirety as lines 6,12, and 18. Line three reappears as lines 9,15, and 19.
ALLITERATION generally refers to the repetition of sounds. This is what gives a poem a lyrical or musical quality.
ASSONANCE is a form of alliteration where vowel sounds are repeated.
CAESURA simply means “a break”—either a pause or interruption of breathing within a line of verse.
CONSONANCE is a form of alliteration where consonant sounds are repeated.
COUPLETS are generally ten syllable lines, grouped in two. They can, however, be two lines of any length that are grouped together.
CRYSTALLINE is a western sub-form of haiku wherein the seventeen syllables are broken into a couplet (two lines) . Placement in the two lines may vary.
DIMETER is a four syllable line of poetry, said to have two feet. Each foot has two syllables.
ENJAMBMENT refers to a sentence or thought that carries through from one line to another.
FOUND poetry uses the technique of listing things that are found close to one another. Arranged in a poetic way, they can create a lyrical picture.
FOOT refers to two syllables. Pentameter, for example, is a line with ten syllables, or five feet.
IMAGERY is the term used when a picture is brought to mind by descriptive words.
LAMB is a commonly used poetic term. Put simply, it is a foot (two syllables) that have the accent on the second syllable. The opposite, where the accent is on the first syllable is a trochaic foot
NOIR haiku generally consists of subject matter not traditionally contained within formal haiku or senryu.