There are so many types of poetry sometimes it’s difficult to know what you’re writing or where to start. Learn all about 8 common types of poetry and how to write them.
The haiku is a traditional Japanese style of poetry. These poems usually have three lines. They have 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the last line. Rhyme isn’t usually a trademark of haiku.
Traditional haiku are about nature and animals, but modern haiku spin-offs have all sorts of subjects. Try writing haiku if you love nature and want to practice capturing an idea in just a few lines.
Shakespeare may have written the most famous sonnets of all time. Sonnets have 14 lines and often written on the subject of love. They usually have ten syllables in each line. Sonnets always have some sort of rhyme scheme, but there isn’t a set pattern for rhyming.
While traditional sonnets are often written about another person, more experimental sonnet-type poetry might be written something else such as a pet or idea that you love. Write sonnets if you’re a bit of a romantic or if you always loved Shakespeare in high school English.
Free verse gives you as the poet the most amount of creative freedom. Free verse doesn’t have a set rhythm or rhyme scheme, and instead are just words painting an idea.
The lines between free verse and prose can be blurry at times. Here’s the main distinction: the language of free verse tends to be more emotionally expressive and decorative while prose tends to focus on getting across an idea efficiently. Free verse is a great choice if you like to just write whatever you feel like writing.
A limerick is the fun birthday-card type of rhyming poetry. It’s usually a 5-line poem about something funny or entertaining. Limericks generally have an AABBA rhyme scheme. The goal is to use clever rhymes to express humorous or satirical ideas.
If you’re a clever or sarcastic person with a good sense of humor, try writing limericks. Just be sure to keep a joking tone and plenty of rhymes and you’ll be all set.
A ballad is a form of narrative verse. That means it uses meter and rhyme to tell a story. There’s often 4-line stanzas with an ABAB rhyme scheme. Ballads were traditionally passed down as part of the oral storytelling tradition. Storytellers would memorize the poems and tell them to an audience.
That’s why ballads are known for their comfortable cadence and flow – they were often tweaked and changed as they were spoken. If you’re a storyteller and like to speak out loud as you write, you’ll write great ballads.
An elegy is a poem about death or grief. It’s really more of a category of poetry into which any of the other styles on the topic are put. Elegies always feature some sort of serious or slightly morbid reflection.
Elegies aren’t the same thing as eulogies, no matter how confusing that may be. Eulogies are a memorial piece for someone who has passed, and elegies are a reflection on the topic of death. If you’re pretty serious and like to reflect on deep topics, maybe you should try your hand at elegies.
Cinquain poetry is an American style of poetry inspired by the haiku. A cinquain is 5 lines long with a set meter. They have 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth, and 2 in the fifth line.
They’re not known for rhyme – it can be difficult with such a syllable pattern – but a clever rhyme here and there never hurt. Try writing a cinquain if you’re a wordsmith who can call out a synonym for any word we throw at you.
An acrostic poem is just plain fun. Acrostic poems spell a word with the first letter of each line. The goal isn’t consistent meter or rhyme, but clever wording that refers to the subject of the poem is always a good choice.
You should try acrostic poems if you want a fun challenge. If you can never think of what to write in a birthday card, try writing an acrostic that spells the recipient’s name.
Hopefully you’ve discovered a new style of poetry to try out. Stretching yourself as a writer by experimenting with different types of poetry is a great way to grow in your skills and become more creative. Let us know what you come up with!