Most Popular Styles Of Poetry

Posted on: 26th May 2013

Poetry is a literary composition expressed in verse. It utilizes meaning and sound as well as distinguishable rhythmic language choices so as to transform emotions and evoke an emotional response.

Poetry employs different techniques like meter, rhyme, and sound devices to reveal the deeper aspects of the experiences of the writer or the poet. There is also always a central theme to each type of poem. Here is an explanation of the ten major poetic forms.

1. The Acrostic Poem

This form is fairly simple and can be written by anyone, even those not realizing that they have written such. An acrostic poem is created by using the first letter of each line to spell out another, usually related, word. An example would be like when grade-school students write descriptive words for each letter in “Mother” on their Mother’s Day cards.

2. The Concrete Poem

The concrete or image poem is another simple form often practised in school. In this type of poem, a single word is written repeatedly to create the visual appearance of that particular word. For example, the word “apple” would be written to form the shape of an apple.

3. The Cinquain

Pronounced “sink-cane”, it is the French word for five. It consists of a single five-line verse wherein each line has a specific syllable count, namely two, four, six, eight, two. It is an unrhymed form of poetry and does not have a title. However, the first line serves that function by announcing the topic.

4. The Free Verse Poem

It is the most common poetic form today, which allows a poet to create his or her own form. Consequently, there are virtually no restrictions on the number of syllables per line, lines per verse, or verses per poem. However, it requires the poet to put extra effort in creating a piece that is beautiful and meaningful without any specific guidelines about rhyme and meter.

5. The Ghazal

It originated in the 6th century and is based on Urdu poetry. A ghazal consists of a series of couplets (two-line verses), with each line containing the same number of syllables. Every verse starts with a rhyme (qaafiya) and ends with the same word or group of words (radif). Additionally, both lines of the first verse end with the qaafiya and radif.

6. The Haiku

In traditional Japanese poetry, it is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Originally a Japanese form, the haiku is a three-line poem with a strict syllable count for each line — namely five, seven, five. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression.

7. The Limerick

Short and humorous, the limerick is a five-line poem that is rhymed AABBA. It is meant to be witty or humorous but sometimes obscene or lewd in form.

8. The Sestina

The sestina is a complex poetic form that achieves its often spectacular effects through intricate repetition. Also known as sextain, its highly structured pattern is characterised by repetition of the initial six end-words of the first stanza through the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The lines may be of any length, though in its initial incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic restriction.

9. The Sonnet

A sonnet is a relatively short poem consisting of merely fourteen lines. Known to follow a strict pattern of rhyme, it is divided into two parts - the octave and the concluding sestet. This separation marks the end or break in thought. It is further classified into Petrarchan, Shakespearean and Miltonic sonnets.

10. The Villanelle

An example of a fixed verse form, the villanelle always has a strong opening tercet, with the first and third lines providing a two-barrelled refrain. It consists of 19 lines, 5 stanzas of three lines and 1 stanza of four lines with two

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rhymes and two refrains.

Many other types of poems exist, including variations of the above forms, but these classic forms provide an excellent starting place for poetry students or those looking to win big poetry giveaways in competitions.

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