List of 86 Poetic Forms for Poets

[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.)

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Have you tried a WD Poetic Form Challenge?

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.

Click to continue.

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  • 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.

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Master Poetic Forms!

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!

Click to continue.

 

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  • 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.

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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.

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9 thoughts on “List of 86 Poetic Forms for Poets

  1. Nagini Riddle

    I have a form you might be interested in. A friend and I came up with it, although I am sure others may have written similar forms.
    It is called the “Polypus,” as it takes inspiration from the sea creatures like squid or octopus.

    The polypus can be any length you desire, but the length of it will depend on how many words you choose to put into the middle line (called “the body”). If you have your body be 8 words, then the final poem will be 9 lines long. 6 words produces a 7 line poem, 10 words gives an 11 line poem, etc. The middle line has to be made of an even amount of words (2, 4, 6, 8, 10…).

    The next part of the poem is that now each word in your body becomes the start of a line in the poem, in consecutive order. These become the “legs.”

    Last, each leg, except for the body, will have a certain number of syllables. If the body has 8 words, then each leg will have 8 syllables. The body’s number of words will equal the number of syllables each leg is.

    Here are a few examples:

    1. The Observer (written 2013)

    I examine worlds before me,
    Am struggling to understand-
    But muffled sounds are all I hear,
    A blur of dreams all that I see:
    I am but a mannequin, pale and still.
    Mannequin by night and by day,
    Pale in skin, in mind, in mild
    And repetitious life, baffled,
    Still, by insatiable mankind.

    2. Insanus (written 2014)

    I wake up screaming in the morning nigh,
    Left to battle with my wild sanity.
    My thoughts, intents, and morals feel corrupt,
    Lurid senses seep into my heart and
    Dreams, but I find myself consternating:
    I left my lurid dreams, and they still haunt me.
    And I wish for some escape, a rescue-
    They manage to plague my heart and ill soul,
    Still berating me for leaving, and they
    Haunt- haunt until I scream out to them, “Leave
    Me!” They ignore my constant, woeful pleas.

    3. Aria (a variation on the form written 2017)

    It’s time to let your quiet soul sing.

    It’s darkening outside. Slowly
    Time winds down, decides to breathe and
    To listen. The arid night will
    Let the beauty of music soar—
    It’s time to let your quiet soul sing.
    Your heart has yearned for all of this
    Quiet peace, to connect with your
    Soul so as to be set free, to
    Sing just a little harmony.

    It’s time to let your quiet soul sing.

    –I am not a published poet or writer nor do I have any blog, but I do love poetry!!!–

  2. bryanpitchford

    Mr. Brewer, I recently learned of the “Spoon River” poem by Edgar Lee Masters while reviewing the list of National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ 2017 contests. Have you heard of the form and would you classify it by itself or include it with either elegies or epitaphs?

  3. Susan Budig

    Many new forms to tackle, mayhap master. It’s an undertaking to list them, but rewarding, I bet to see your considerable volume accumulate.

    I know you didn’t list all that you’ve either covered or know. I wonder, though, if you might list the form that won your Create-a-form contest about two years ago. Granted, I was the winner and my comment might be motivated by ego, but not entirely.

    You hosted and promoted the contest and then chose a winner from many entries. I think including the anapeat would be a feather for both our caps.

    Lastly, Robert, I’m thankful for your continued commitment to poetry and its value to us all.

  4. PressOn

    PUERILE POETICS

    My Sonnets and Haiku are glib;
    my Cascades make a passable bib;
    I Rondeau in a hurry;
    write Blitzes like fury,
    but nary can I tell a Fib.

  5. De Jackson

    I always love, and often depend on, your form lists, Robert. Thank you. As before, marking this one for later reference.

    I learned to shamelessly Fib, Shadorma, Ovillejo, Rondeau, Pantoum, Tanka, Triolet and (gasp, sweat, sigh) Sestina right here under your guidance. Thank you.

  6. PressOn

    I am a relative latecomer to this blog; many of the forms listed were covered well before I learned of this site. Thanks for posting this list and its links; I appreciate it, as I love to play with forms. I regard this site as a learning experience, and this post is a good example of that.

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