[Update: This post used to list 50 poetic forms for poets, but I’ve updated it with 86 poetic forms for poets. Because forms rock!]
I’m in the middle of putting together my list of poetic forms to cover in the (
2015) 2018 issues of Writer’s Digest magazine, and it prompted me to take a look at what I’ve already covered on this blog over the years. As the title of this post suggests, I’ve covered at least ( 50) 80 forms.
Be sure to check out each form. It might even make a good year-long challenge to write one form each week of the year (or every 4-5 days).
Here’s my list of 86 poetic forms:
(Note: Click on the name of each form to read the full description in the original posts.)
- Abstract (or Sound) Poetry. Abstract was a term used by Dame Edith Sitwell.
- Acrostic. A form for hidden messages.
- Ae Freislighe. Irish quatrain with intense rhyme scheme.
- Alphabet Poetry. Perfect back-to-school poetry.
- Anagrammatic Poetry. More fun with letters.
- Blackout Poems. Making poems from articles.
- The Blitz. 50-liner invented by Robert Keim.
- The Bop. Three stanzas and three refrains, developed by Afaa Michael Weaver.
- Bref Double. French quatorzain.
- Byr a Thoddaid Poems. Welsh quatrain.
- Cascade. Variable length form invented by Udit Bhatia.
- Chanso. Five to six stanzas with an envoy.
- Chant. If it works once, run it into the ground.
- Cinquain. Popular five-liner.
- Clogyrnach. 6-line Welsh form.
- Concrete Poems. Shapely poetry.
- Contrapuntal Poems. Independent poems that get intertwined.
- Curtal Sonnet. 11-line sonnet invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
- Cyrch A Chwta. 8-line Welsh form with 7 syllables per line.
- Cywydd Llosgyrnog. 6-liner with internal rhymes and variable syllables.
- Decima. Various versions of 10-line forms.
- Descort. French form that makes each line special.
- Diminishing Verse. Poems that disappear one letter per line.
- Dizain. French 10×10 form.
- Dodoitsu. 4-line Japanese form.
- Elegy. Song of sorrow or mourning.
- Epitaphs. Or tombstone poetics.
- Erasure Poems. Like blackout poems, but without the markers.
Every month or so, Poetic Asides hosts a WD Poetic Form Challenge–a free poetry challenge in which poets try their hand at a specific poetic form. The current challenge is for the madrigal (click here for the guidelines), but if that deadline has passed, poets can always check the Poetic Asides home page for the most recent challenge.
- The Fib. Fun form from Gregory K. Pincus.
- Found Poetry. Finders keepers, right?
- Ghazal. Couplets and a refrain.
- Gogyohka. 5-line poem developed by Enta Kusakabe.
- Golden Shovel. Terrance Hayes-invented, Gwendolyn Brooks-inspired.
- Gwawdodyn. Welsh poetic form.
- Haibun. Japanese form popularized by Matsuo Basho.
- Haiku. Popular Japanese form.
- Haiku Sonnet. 4 haiku and a couplet.
- Hay(na)ku. Eileen Tabios form with 3 lines, 6 words.
- Hir a Thoddaid. 6 lines that mostly all share the same rhyme.
- Huitain. French 8-liner with an ababbcbc rhyme scheme.
- Interlocking Rubaiyat. Used by Omar Khayyam, Robert Frost, and many others.
- Katauta Poems. Haiku (or senryu) for lovers.
- Kimo. Israeli version of haiku.
- Kyrielle. Adjustable French form.
- Lai. Nine-liner from the French.
- Landay. Poem comprised of self-contained couplets.
- Limerick. 5 lines and naughty rhymes.
- List Poem. Poetry at the grocery store.
- Luc Bat. Vietnamese “6-8” form.
- Lune. Robert Kelly invention, also known as American haiku.
- Madrigal. Learn both the Italian and English versions.
- Magic 9. The “abacadaba” 9-line rhyme scheme.
- Minute Poem. 3 quatrains and a simple rhyme scheme.
- Mondo. Brief collaborative Q&A poem.
- Monotetra. Quatrain madness developed by Michael Walker.
- Nonet. Nine-line countdown poem.
- Ode. Praise poetry!
- Ottava Rima. ABC rhymes in 8 lines.
- Ovillejo Poems. 10-liner popularized by Miguel de Cervantes.
Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.
This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!
- Palindrome (or Mirror Poetry). Reflective poetic form.
- Pantoum. The repetitive form from Malay.
- Paradelle. Silly and/or psycho form from Billy Collins.
- Prose. Just when you thought poetry was defined by line breaks.
- Qasida. Guest post by Ren Powell.
- Quatern. French 4×4 form.
- Rannaigheact Mhor. Irish form that fits a lot of rules into 28 syllables.
- Rhupunt. Welsh form that offers variability and rigidity simultaneously.
- Rimas Dissolutas. Old French form that rhymes and doesn’t rhyme.
- Rispetto. Italian poetic form.
- Rondeau. 15 lines, 3 stanzas, and a lot of rhymes.
- Rondel. 13 lines in 3 stanzas.
- Rondine. 12-liner with a refrain.
- The Roundabout. Form from Sara Diane Doyle and David Edwards.
- Roundelay. Simple lyric poem that uses a refrain.
- Seguidilla. Spanish 7-liner that began as a dance song.
- Sestina. The form poets either love or hate.
- Shadorma. Spanish 6-liner.
- Sijo. Korean poetic form.
- Somonka. Japanese collaborative form.
- Sonnet. Shakespeare’s 14-line fave.
- Tanka. Kinda like a haiku plus a couplet.
- Terzanelle. What happens when the terza rima and villanelle combine.
- Tricubes. 3 stanzas by 3 lines by 3 syllables.
- Triolet. 8-line French form.
- Triversen. William Carlos Williams invention: six tercets.
- Villanelle. Five tercets and a quatrain.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.
A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Robert has been a featured poet at events across the country and is married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets.
Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.