Erin's Poetry Tips

40 tips to poetry and poetry forums

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Poetic Forms

Choices Choices!

There are literally hundreds of forms of structured poetry, each presenting its own set of restrictions and requirements. The ones Ive listed are just a sampling of the choices available for structured poetry. I’ve left out more than I’ve included I’m sure. If you have a form you find interesting, fun, or particularly challenging, please, add it as a reply with a description/definition!

The definitions found here are generally copied from various sites on the web - you can do a search for "structured poetry" or "poetry forms" and find many such sites. You can also peruse the Structured Forum here on Moontowncafe and find some I've most likely missed.

Oriental Forms:

Haiku –
Haiku is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Because it is so brief, a haiku is necessarily imagistic, concrete & pithy, capturing a single moment in a very few words. The traditional Japanese haiku requires some reference to nature or the season.

Senryu –
is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, 17 in all. It is differentiated from Haiku by subject only, being based on human nature rather than mother nature.

Tanka:
Japanese form of five lines with five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables, 31 in all.

THAN-BAUK
definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
A Than-Bauk, conventionally a witty saying or epigram, is a three line "climbing rhyme" poem of Burmese origin. Each line has four syllables. -Preferably one word syllables.
The rhyme is on the fourth syllable of the first line,
the third syllable of the second line,
and the second syllable of the third line.

DODOITSU
definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
The Dodoitsu is a fixed folk song form of Japanese origin and is often about love, human nature or humor. It has 26 syllables made of four lines of 7, 7, 7, 5 syllables respectively. It is unrhymed and non-metrical.

Various Other Forms:

Triolet:
an eight-line stanza having just two rhymes and repeating the first line as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second line as the eighth

Villanelle
The villanelle is a poem of 19 lines, five triplets and a quatrain, using only two rhymes throughout the whole form. The entire first line is repeated as lines 6, 12 and 18 and the third line is repeated as lines 9, 15 and 19 -- so that the lines which frame the first triplet weave through the poem like refrains in a traditional song, and form the end of the concluding stanza.

Pantoum:
Brought to the West by Victor Hugo, the pantoum is derived from a Malaysian form of interlocking four-line stanzas in which lines 2 and 4 of one stanza are used as lines 1 and 3 of the next. The lines may be of any length, and the poem can go on for an indefinite number of stanzas. Usually the paired lines are also rhymed. The form may be resolved at the end either by picking up lines 1 and 3 of the first stanza as lines 2 and 4 of the last, thus closing the circle of the poem, or simply by closing with a rhymed couplet.

Sonnets:
**English (or Shakespearean) sonnet with three quatrains and a concluding couplet, with the scheme abab cdcd efef gg
**Italian: a fourteen-line poem with two sections, an octave (eight-line stanza rhyming abbaabba), and a sestet (six-line-stanza rhyming cddc ee)
**Petrachan: a fourteen-line poem with two sections, an octave (eight-line stanza rhyming abbaabba), and a sestet (six-line-stanza rhyming cdcdcd or cdecde).
****Quatrain: a four-line stanza
****Couplet: a pair of successive rhyming lines, usually of the same length
****Octave: an eight-line stanza or poem
****Sestet: a six-line stanza,

Acrostic:
A poem set up so that the first or last letter of each line can be read together as a word or phrase. There are no restrictions or requirements to rhyme scheme, meter or repetition.

Palindrome:
A poem that reads the same backward or forward.

Tetractys:
Definition and description by Pilgrimage
the form is 1,2,3,4,10 and then if you want to continue, you reverse it. And if you have more to say you reverse it again.

NONET
definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables,
the third line seven syllables, etc... until line nine that finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.
line 1 - 9 syllables
line 2 - 8 syllables
line 3 - 7 syllables
line 4 - 6 syllables
line 5 - 5 syllables
line 6 - 4 syllables
line 7 - 3 syllables
line 8 - 2 syllables
line 9 - 1 syllable

DIAMONTE
definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
The diamonte is fun and easy to write. The purpose is to go from the subject at the top of the diamond to another totally different (and sometimes opposite) subject at the bottom. The structure is:
line 1 - one noun (subject #1)
line 2 - two adjectives (describing subject #1)
line 3 - three participles (ending in -ing, telling about the subject #1)
line 4 - four nouns (first two related to the subject #1, second two related to subject #2)
line 5 - three participles (ending in -ing, telling about subject #2)
line 6 - two adjectives (describing subject #2)
line 7 - one noun (subject #2)