Poetry can seem intimidating for new writers. From haikus and limericks to sonnets and elegies, poetry is vast in structure and style. To help you get a better understanding of the different types of poetry out there, we’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to ten common forms.
- Haiku: Haiku is a Japanese short form of poetry that consists of three phrases. Haikus follow the 5/7/5 rule, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the last line. These poems are simple and fun to write–a perfect structure to experiment with for those new to writing poetry.
- Limerick: Limerick is a form of poetry that first appeared in 18th-century England. Typically consisting of a verse with 3 long and 2 short rhyming lines, limericks are fun short poems often used to tell humorous stories.
- Sonnet: Sonnet is a form of poetry that originated in 13th-century Italy and was made famous by William Shakespeare. Sonnets, which are typically about love and human experience, consist of 14 lines. They contain a twist, or a “volta” about 8 lines in that is resolved by the end of the poem.
- Elegy: An elegy is a type of poem in which the writer expresses grief, loss, or sorrow and is typically written in response to a person’s death. Elegies are most commonly written in quatrains (lines of four) with an ABAB rhyme scheme.
- Free Verse: Free verse is a form of poetry that follows no strict rhyme scheme or meter. Instead, this form of poetry tends to follow the patterns of natural speech. Free verse started to gain popularity in the 19th century and is today most commonly associated with poets including Walt Whitman and Robert Hayden.
- Acrostic: Acrostic poems are poems in which the first letter of each line spells out a word or phrase when read vertically. These types of poems are fun and easy to write for children just getting introduced to poetry.
- Epic: Epics are long narrative poems in which a heroic central character overcomes obstacles against extraordinary or supernatural forces. This is one of the oldest forms of poetry, dating back to 2100 in ancient Mesopotamia. Popular epics include Beowulf, The Odyssey, and The Illiad.
- Epigram: Epigrams are brief, witty and often surprising or satirical statements about a single thought or event. The word “epigram” originates from the Greek word “epigraphein,” which means to write on or inscribe. Epigrams have been written for over two thousand years.
- Ballad: Ballads, which originated in late medieval Europe, are a type of poem that tells a story and is set to music. English ballads typically follow a quatrain structure and a ABCB rhyme scheme.
- Ode: Odes are a type of formal lyric poem that celebrate a place, idea, or person. They originated in Ancient Greece and typically consist of three to five stanzas. Some famous ode poets include Thomas Gray, John Keats, and William Wordsworth.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the forms of poetry, but we hope it provides you with a brief introduction. To dive deeper into the world of poetry, sign up for our Poetry Specialty Workshop! During the one-and-a-half-hour workshop, you’ll learn the skills and techniques necessary to write poetry of your own. Don’t hesitate to call 214-915-2155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!