Check out this list of 100 poetic forms for poets that includes everything from abstract poetry and ae freislighe to villanelle and zappai—and so many more in between.
[Update: This post used to list 50 poetic forms for poets, but I've updated it with 100 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) 2020 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) 100 forms.
Be sure to check out each form. It might even make a good year-long challenge to write two forms each week of the year.
Here's my list of 100 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.
- Awdl Gywydd. Welsh quatrain with end and internal rhymes.
- 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.
- Catena Rondo. Interlinked quatrain form developed by Robin Skelton.
- 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 10x10 form.
- Dodoitsu. 4-line Japanese form.
- Echo Verse. A poem that repeats itself (self).
- Elegy. Song of sorrow or mourning.
- Epitaphs. Or tombstone poetics.
- Erasure Poems. Like blackout poems, but without the markers.
Play with poetic forms!
Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).
- The Fib. Fun form from Gregory K. Pincus.
- Found Poetry. Finders keepers, right?
- Ghazal. Couplets and a refrain.
- Glose (or Glosa). 40-line poem based off an epigraph.
- 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.
- Imayo. 4-line Japanese poem with a pause in the middle of each line.
- 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.
Build an Audience for Your Poetry!
While your focus as a poet will always be on refining your craft, why not cultivate a following along the way? With the multitude of social networking opportunities available today, it’s never been easier to connect with other poetry enthusiasts.
- 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 4x4 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.
- Senryu. What many people consider haiku.
- Sestina. The form poets either love or hate.
- Shadorma. Spanish 6-liner.
- Sijo. Korean poetic form.
- Skeltonic Verse. "Tumbling verse" named after originator, John Skelton.
- Somonka. Japanese collaborative form.
- Sonnet. Shakespeare's 14-line fave.
- Strambotto. Hendecasyllabic octave with abababab rhyme scheme.
- Tanka. Kinda like a haiku plus a couplet.
- Tautogram. Poem in which all words start with the same letter.
- Terzanelle. What happens when the terza rima and villanelle combine.
- Than-bauk. Burmese descending rhyme tercet (or linked verse).
- Trenta-Sei. 36-liner invented by John Ciardi.
- Treochair. Alliterative tercets that rhyme with variable 3/7/7 lines.
- Tricubes. 3 stanzas by 3 lines by 3 syllables.
- Trimeric. 13-line form invented by Charles A. Stone.
- Triolet. 8-line French form.
- Triversen. William Carlos Williams invention: six tercets.
- Villanelle. Five tercets and a quatrain.
- Zappai. Just another 3-liner form.
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Remember the difference between the 8 parts of speech, and how to use them? Are you comfortable with punctuation and mechanics? No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.