Types of Poetry

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There are many different types of poetry. Some poetry types are more significantly more structured than others. You are probably already familiar with the most commonly used types, such as limerick, haiku and sonnet. We have described several types in this article as well as provided links to resources that describe each poetry type in much greater detail.

ABC Poems: An ABC poem is a poem where each new line starts with a subsequent letter of the alphabet. You don't have to use all 26 letters.

Acrostic Poems: Acrostic poems spell out words using the first or last letter of each line.

Ballad: A ballad is a short, narrative song. Ballads typically consist of two kinds of stanzas.

Blank Verse: Blank verse poetry is written in iambic pentameter with no rhymes.

Cento: The cento poetic form involves poetry that borrows lines from other poets and mixes them in with their own poems. They are also known as collage poems.

Concrete Poetry: Concrete poetry focuses on a visual display in addition to the words. The poems provide a visual effect through use of words, word arrangement, colors, typefaces and more.

Epic Poetry: An epic poem is a long, narrative poem. They can be as long as a book, such as the Beowulf, Odyssey, Aeneid and Paradise Lost.

Elegy: An elegy mournful poem that traditional mirrors the three stages of lost. It originated with the ancient Greeks.

Eye Rhyme: Eye rhymes are words that look like they should rhyme but they are pronounced differently.

Free Verse: There are no rules for creating a free verse poem other than making sure the poem does not conform to one of the existing poetry forms. However, a free verse poem can incorporate rhyming schemes and patterns from other types of poetry.

Gnomic Poetry: Gnomes were meaningful sayings, practical advice and cultural norms describes in verse. The Greek gnomic poets flourished in the 6th century BCE.

Haiku: A short form of Japanese poetry with three lines of five, seven and five syllables. There are variations on this rule.

Limerick: A short humorous poem consisting of five lines and an aabba rhyming structure.

Ode: An ode is a lyric poem with varying stanza forms.

Palinode: A poet uses a palinode to retract something written in a previous poem.

Prose Poem: A prose poem is a poem that looks like prose but reads like poetry. Prose poems may make use of several poetic techniques.

Quatorzain: A quatorzain is a poem with fourteen lines. The word is of French origin.

Sestina: A sestina is a 39-line structured poem that involves word repetition. It includes six stanzas with six lines in each stanza and a final three-line envoi. The main effect of the sestina comes from its strict pattern of repetition of the six end-words of the first stanza.

Sijo: Sijo is a Korean poetry form containing three lines of 14-16 syllables.

Sonnet: A sonnet is rhyming poem containing 14 lines. There are two different types of sonnets: the Italian sonnet and English (or Shakespearean sonnet). There are also irregular variations on the sonnet.

Villanelle: A nineteen-line poem containing five tercets and a closing quatrain. The highly-structured poetry form repetition of the first and third line from the opening tercet. A tercet is a three line stanza.