A Poet’s Toolkit: POETIC FORMS from A-Z By B. Sharise

ABC
A poem that has five lines that create a mood, picture, or feeling. Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses while the first word of each line is in alphabetical order. Line 5 is one sentence long and begins with any letter.

 

Acrostic
Poetry that certain letters, usually the first in each line form a word or message when read in a sequence.

 

Ballad
A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tail or legend which often has a repeated refrain.

 

Cinquain
Poetry with five lines. Line 1 has one word (the title). Line 2 has two words that describe the title. Line 3 has three words that tell the action. Line 4 has four words that express the feeling, and line 5 has one word which recalls the title.

 

Elegy
A sad and thoughtful poem about the death of an individual.

 

Epic
An extensive, serious poem that tells the story about a heroic figure.

 

Free verse (vers libre)
Poetry written in either rhyme or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern.

 

Haiku
A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five morae, usually containing a season word.

 

Italian sonnet
A sonnet consisting of an octave with the rhyme pattern abbaabba followed by six lines with a rhyme pattern of cdecde or cdcdcd.

 

Limerick
A short sometimes vulgar, humorous poem consisting of five anapestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 have seven to ten syllables, rhyme and have the same verbal rhythm. The 3rd and 4th lines have five to seven syllables, rhyme and have the same rhythm.

 

List
A poem that is made up of a list of items or events. It can be any length and rhymed or unrhymed.

 

Lyric
A poem that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet.

 

Narrative
A poem that tells a story.

 

Ode
A lengthy lyric poem typically of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanza structure.

 

Persona
A poem written from a perspective other than your own.

 

Quatrain
A stanza or poem consisting of four lines. Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme while having a similar number of syllables.

 

Rondeau
A lyrical poem of French origin having 10 or 13 lines with two rhymes and with the opening phrase repeated twice as the refrain.

 

Senryu
A short Japanese style poem, similar to haiku in structure that treats human beings rather than nature: Often in a humorous or satiric way.

 

Sestina
A poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.

 

Shakespearean Sonnet
A 14-line sonnet consisting of three quatrains of abab cdcd efef followed by a couplet, Shakespearean sonnets generally use iambic pentameter.

 

Shape
Poetry written in the shape or form of an object.

 

Sonnet
A lyric poem that consists of 14 lines which usually have one or more conventional rhyme schemes.

 

Tanka
A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the other seven.

 

Terza Rima
A type of poetry consisting of 10 or 11 syllable lines arranged in three-line tercets.

 

Villanelle
A 19-line poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain on two rhymes. The first and third lines of the first tercet repeat alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas and joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.