20 Types of Poetry

What makes a poem different from a story? A story is written in paragraphs, consisting of (mostly) full sentences and some dialogue. Poetry is written in a variety of styles.

Some styles use full sentences, but often poetry consists of sentence fragments and phrases that are grouped together in stanzas*. Poetry can be used to tell a story, or simply to describe a feeling. Sometimes poems are cryptic, requiring analyzation to determine their true meaning. Poetry can be humorous or intentionally somber. Rhyming patterns* vary and are not always consistent. Meter*, alliteration*, and repetition are frequently just as important as the rhyming pattern. Some poems are very short, only a few lines long. A few famous poems are long enough to fill a large, thick book. Occasionally, poets may play with formatting to display their work creatively on the page.

When I write poetry, I typically write free verse with occasional rhyming. A few of them are formatted on the page to match the theme of the poem just for fun. I love reading poems that tell a story in a unique way, as well as compelling free verse.

Can you match the twenty kinds of poetry listed below to their descriptions? I must admit that I was previously unfamiliar with a couple of them, such as the villanelle (…??). Click on the link at the end of the article to check your answers.

Do you know of any other type of poetry not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments and share which kind of poetry is your favorite to read and which is your favorite to write. Common poetry terms (noted with an *) are defined after the poem descriptions.

Types of poetry (in alphabetical order):

  • Acrostic
  • Ballad
  • Blackout poetry
  • Concrete poetry
  • Ekphrastic poetry
  • Elegy
  • Epic
  • Epigram
  • Epitaph
  • Free verse
  • Haiku
  • Limerick
  • List poetry
  • Lyric poetry
  • Narrative poetry
  • Ode
  • Palindrome* poetry
  • Pantoum
  • Sonnet
  • Villanelle

Descriptions (in random order):

  • Japanese poetry consisting of three lines; may or may not rhyme:
    • Line 1: five syllables
    • Line 2: seven syllables
    • Line 3: five syllables
  • Fourteen lines; typically about love; rhyme schemes*:
    • ABBA ABBA CDE CDE or
    • ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
  • Nineteen lines; ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA rhyme scheme; certain lines are repeated:
    • Line 1
    • Line 2
    • Line 3
    • Line 4
    • Line 5
    • Line 6 – repeat line 1
    • Line 7
    • Line 8
    • Line 9 – repeat line 3
    • Line 10
    • Line 11
    • Line 12 – repeat line 1
    • Line 13
    • Line 14
    • Line 15 – repeat line 3
    • Line 16
    • Line 17
    • Line 18 – repeat line 1
    • Line 19 – repeat line 3
  • First letter of each line vertically spells out a name, word, or phrase
  • Poem with no rules
  • Usually short; written to praise a person, thing, or event; often ten lines
  • Funny or shocking; AABBA rhyme scheme; lines 3 and 4 are shorter than the other lines; the last line is the punchline.
  • Written in mourning after a death; often consisting of several two-line stanzas
  • Tells a dramatic or emotional story; ABAB or ABCB rhyme scheme
  • Vividly describes a painting, statue, photograph, or story
  • Designed to take a particular shape or form on the page; spacing or layout is often manipulated to emphasize a theme or element in the text, or sometimes make the physical shape of the poem’s subject
  • Short, witty, and satirical
  • Short phrase written in memory of a person whose died, often inscribed on a tombstone or grave marker.
  • Shorter, expressive, songlike poem that is centered on emotions.
  • Large portions of an existing text are blacked out to reveal the remaining visible words that form the new poem
  • Very long poem which tells a story about a character’s adventures, accomplishments, and daring feats.
  • Shorter yet fully developed story that focuses more on plot instead of emotion or adventure, often with a specific rhyming scheme.
  • Poem that consists of four-line stanzas* that repeat in a pattern; no set length; changes in punctuation, verb tense, pronouns, word order, homonyms, and plurality are allowed when repeating lines.
    • Line 1
    • Line 2
    • Line 3
    • Line 4
    • Line 5 – repeat line 2
    • Line 6
    • Line 7 – repeat line 4
    • Line 8
    • Line 9 – repeat line 6
    • Line 10
    • Line 11 – repeat line 8
    • Line 12
    • Line 13 – repeat line 10
    • Line 14
    • Line 15 – repeat line 12
    • Line 16

      Final stanza continues same pattern but ends with a repeat of line 1 as the final line in the poem.
  • Poem that reads the same forward or backward with a word in the center as the reversal point
  • List of things; funny or moving last line

Visit https://karolyneditsbooks.com/poetry_types.html to check your answers.


Alliteration – Repetition of the same sound at the beginning of a series of words in succession

Meter – Pattern of stressed syllables (long-sounding) and unstressed syllables (short-sounding) in poetry

Palindrome – Word, phrase, verse, sentence, or poem that reads the same forward or backward

Rhyme scheme/pattern – Lines that end with rhyming words are identified by the same letter. Examples of rhyme schemes:

  • AA BB CC
    • three stanzas
    • last words of lines 1 and 2 rhyme
    • last words of lines 3 and 4 rhyme
    • last words of lines 5 and 6 rhyme
  • AABBA
    • in each stanza, last words of lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme
    • in each stanza, last words of lines 3 and 4 rhyme

Stanza – Set amount of lines grouped together in poetry by their length, meter, or rhyme scheme


Pretty in Print


After publishing our poetry book as an eBook, I decided to add content and completely redesign and prettify it for paperback publication. I went a bit crazy with the formatting for the poems, so it took forever. But I love how it turned out! Here’s the new description along with the Amazon link:

[Mirrors: Poetry Anthology (2nd edition)] [karolynherrera.com]

Two teenage cousins loved to write poetry in the 1980s before the internet was a thing. Thirty years later, after marriages, divorces and children, Kari and Terrie’s shared dream of publishing a book is finally realized.

Topics near and dear to their hearts–crushes, breakups, friendship, pets, books and nature–are the focus of poems in this nostalgic collection.

Beautiful, full-color illustrations and personal photos bring their words to life, preserving a little piece of history. This print edition has been reorganized and redesigned and includes additional photos and commentary.


Little Piece

mirrors cover fb


As a book editor, it is very rewarding to finally be able to say I’ve edited AND published an eBook co-written by me and my cousin. This book represents a little piece of our history.  I’ll include my eBook description and link below.

Two teenage cousins loved to write poetry in the 1980s before the internet was a thing. Topics near and dear to their hearts – crushes, breakups, friendship, pets, books and nature – are the focus of poems in this collection. Thirty years later, after marriages, divorces and children, Kari and Terrie’s dream of publishing a book is finally realized.

[ Mirrors: Poetry Anthology ]
(available on Amazon)


Wednesday’s Wafers IX

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.

Return for Chapter 5 of my short story at a later date.

The romantic fool in me wrote this during a two-day period when I’d thought that I’d been abandoned again. Thankfully, I was wrong! But this is what it’s come to: engaging self-preservation mode to prevent weeks of agonizing over someone by condensing it into a 24-hour period of anguish. So, now I can read it and laugh gleefully, feeling safe in my bubble of adoration and addiction.


Pieces by Karolyn H

shards

Even now,
it’s still devastating…
to lose a love
so sweet so pure so unexpected.
Even though I knew it could happen
and I knew that he would stop
if he no longer felt the
same euphoria
that we shared for a short time.

Love is love.
It’s real
It makes me happy
He filled my heart
He loved me
He loved to hear me sing.
And now I cry
and wait to stop crying.
I wonder what he would do if he could see and hear me cry
over missing him.
Still hoping,
but not expecting
to ever hear his magic voice again.

My stupid heart is broken.
It still hurts.
So, I whisper to myself
“just pretend”
go back to who I was before I knew him.
Forget all the beautiful little pieces of him
that he shared with me.
But my heart rejects this.
“Be happy for the love we shared,”
I whisper, determined.
Move on.

But those little pieces poke
and stab.
Instead of sleeping,
I bleed.

-6/14/17-

Wednesday’s Wafers VI

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.

Return next week for Chapter 4 in my short story.

I’m not a gamer. I never play World of Warcraft. I don’t own any consoles or first person shooter games. I used to love watching my son play Halo and Elder Scrolls, etc., but I never spent time playing any of them myself. I do like to play a word game and a puzzle game on my phone occasionally because I feel it helps keep my mind sharp. Well – then I discovered Empires & Allies, a strategy, resource gathering, base building, base raiding game. I’m so hooked lol. I joined an alliance and laid low for awhile because my base and troops were so weak. But I made friends with several alliance members, and now I’ve followed them from one alliance to another and then another. I like being one of the guys, so to speak. I love building and gathering types of games and I’m pretty competitive at times. I’ve just never played any for very long, until now. This is what I do when I have a spare moment, or I’m taking a break from work. So, thought I’d write about it. Hope you like it. Thoughts?


Gang’s All Here  by Karolyn H

eanda

Melody of beeps, increasingly louder…
The alarm drags me out of my slumber.
I fumble for my phone and swipe it off.
It’s quiet, no one’s up. Dark. Why am I….?
Oh yeah. E&A Alliance War.
Sitting up, I check Messenger.
4a in the alliance group chat wreaking havoc. Someone must be drunk, lol.
Ricky sending hearts and Sandan telling us to attack early.
‘Yarrrr!’ I text, before leaving Messenger and opening the game app.
While the game takes foreeeveeeerrrrr to load,
I put on my robe and slipper socks and sit in my office chair.
Game loads. X out the annoying ad.
First things first: check time remaining until alliance war begins.
15 minutes. Good, plenty of time.
Tap alliance war shield.
Apply Strike Force to base defensive buildings.
Request additional defensive troops from alliance members.
Back to my base. Tap tap tap to collect fuel, steel, tech, resources.
Damn, attacked 3 times overnight? Revive Colossus in the Robotics Bay.
Open War Factory, collect Command Points bonus that’s finished building.
Purchase elite cache with Advance Materials, get a construction boost, resource boost, and 30 gold.
Tap on fuel stockpile, tap on speedup icon to request help from alliance.
Check Call to Arms mission. Nevermind, I’ll worry about that after I use my AW attacks.
Guess I’ll wait to finish Killswitch after the war too.
Need a couple more uplink modules so I can build another Ion Cannon.
Tap on Alliance chat. Gang’s all here. I smile.
Swarm: wzup dragon!
Gen Dragon (me): thanks for the troops. Ready to kick some ass
Swarm: Everyone pick your targets, claim them.
Steveo: I’ll take nomad, 72xp
Dragon: I’m fine with my recommended target for first attack
Illbreed: Ready to nuke something. I’ll go for bitbit, 71xp
Spos: I’m on my way to work guys, I’ll attack when I can
4a: Fuck you all!
Dragon: lol
Hard Target: I finally upgraded HQ to 20
Ricky: hey, way to go buddy
ANNOUNCEMENT: War’s about to start. Load strike force. Attack early. Don’t waste attacks
Sandan: Dragon, switch to squad deployment, instead of individual.
Dragon: roger that.
X out of chat. Tap on HQ, switch to squad deployment.
Apply auto repair boost to Colossus from Inventory.
Apply bonus command points boost to Weapons Command.
Apply strike force to 3 troop tarmacs.
Banner pops up on the screen. Alliance War has begun.
Tap on alliance war shield.
Screen freezes, then…
World map zooms in. There’s my base.
Recommended target is identified. Tap on Scout.
Adrenaline rush.
Here we go!

-5/16/17-

Wednesday’s Wafers IV

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


I’ll write the next chapter in my short story for an upcoming post.

algeria  Today, I’m sharing a newly revised and expanded version of a poem that I wrote six years ago, after returning from two weeks spent in Algeria (North Africa). Amazing how few details remain as fresh as the day they happened, yet those are the important ones. More photos below.


Journey  by Karolyn H

eg1

Airports and airplanes
uncomfortable, lonely.
Restless legs, restless heart.

First meal in Algiers
Fries, salad, bread, and juice.
Smiles and sallams.
City sidewalks, cracked and pitted.
Treacherous traffic, always alert.

Long drive through the city
ice cream surprise!
First kiss, first touch
Magic.

Mountains change to desert
our bus drives on.
Repairs in the night
send us stargazing.

Heavy, metal door opens wide.
Wooden sofa for American guest.
Winding staircase cut in stone up to the roof.

Eating with the family
Bismallah, koli koli! alhamdulillah.
Sharing, laughing
new foods, new words, new friends.

We climb the old castle
all around is El Golea!
Palms, palms, desert, wonders.

So much to see,
Photos and more photos.
Shopping for scarves, trinkets, lantern.
Strong coffee in little cups, surrounded by men.
Museum showcasing artifacts, intricate desert rose sand formations.
Single peach and white church.
Call to prayers and the mosque.

Yamina prepares wonderful food,
Shares in mutual halting conversation.
Meals together, shared by all.

Omi, always with a song, a laugh
Nacer, persistantly playing soccer
Shiek, humble and serious.
My Hachemi, generous, happy, responsible.

Omama, my little teacher.
Ahmed’s beaming ibtisama.
Fatima, Meriem, Fatiha, Karim,
forever joking, talking.
Hamida, Soumia, Jakout, my dance partners.

Children, lovely children everywhere!
Little creature underfoot…is that a hedgehog?
Moad inexplicably carries around a hairdryer.
Merimuuu! beautiful as her mother, Fadia.
Yasine, thoughtful, reminds me so much of my own son.

Tibo, Maouad, like family.
Women shopping, talking,
heading to school to teach and to learn.

Prepare yourself! I am instructed.
It’s time for Ghardaia.
Crazy driving, good music.
and many gifts to find.

Wrap me in blue!
Cousins gather around,
Henna is applied.
I sit and I wait for it to set and listen to the ladies speaking Arabic and French.
A little mascara,…and a hijab?

Finally,
Sahara.
Riding out in a white jeep,
Up and over, down and hang on!
Jemels!
Tea, three cups, sugar and mint.
Crackling fire, first taste of lamb.
Setting sun
as four men perform Salat
at the top of the dune.
My dream is reality.

El Golea is in my heart.
the places
the food
the unforgettable people.
Shokran, shokran!
Insha’allah, I will return.

-5/3/17-


sallams – short for asalamalakim greeting
Bismallah – said before eating meals
koli koli! – eat, eat!
alhamdulillah – said after meals (praise be to God)
ibtisama – smile
hijab – head scarf
jemels – camels
Salat – prayer
shokran – thank you
Insha’allah – God willing