Poetic Forms

Writing poetry has become a learning experience for me. I’ve favored free verse in the past. In fact, I still do. Rhyme and meter have always been a challenge for me – at least rhyme that doesn’t sound forced.

I enjoy reading the different poets I follow here at WordPress, especially when a poem flows so smoothly that I don’t realize rhyme and structure are present until I finish reading it. I’m learning from these poets, and I’m learning as I try new forms to meet various poetry prompts and challenges.

Many of the forms I use are still new to me, so I’ve created this page to help remember them. I’m sure I’ll be using this as a reference well into the future.

Note each form listed below is a link to my poems written in that form.

Ken G.

Abecedarian Poem
~ a poem with 26 words in alphabetical order or one having each line following the order of the alphabet

Abhanga
~ a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of the Hindu god Vitthal, also known as Vithoba. Commonly used for devotional poetic compositions it has also been used for cynicism, satire and reflective moods. The elements of Abhanga are as follows:
          ~ stanzaic, written in any number of 4 line stanzas.
          ~ syllabic, 6-6-6-4 syllables each
          ~ rhyme pattern … x-a-a-x, where x does not rhyme
          ~ often internal rhyme is employed

American Sentence ~ created by Allen Ginsberg
~ loose American form of haiku, with 17 syllables
~ represented as a sentence
~ reference to a season is not required
~ similar to senryū
          ~ read more here & here

Cascade
~ 4 (or more) three-line stanzas, without rhyme
~ 3 lines of the first verse used successively as last lines of following verses
~ line pattern A/B/C, d/e/A, f/g/B, h/i/C, (j/k/D, etc.)
~ longer poems may be created by having a longer first verse
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Cento
~ a poetic form composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets. Many use the work of multiple poets.

Cherita
~ the Malay word for story or tale
~ [1 — 2 — 3] – a one-line stanza, followed by a two-line stanza, finishing with a three-line stanza
~ written solo or with up to three partners
~ find more details at The Cherita

Chōka
~ a Japanese long poem written primarily from the 6th to the 14th century.
          ~ alternating lines of 5 and 7 syllables
          ~ indefinite length (from 7 to 149 lines
          ~ ending with an added 7 syllable line. So, 5-7-5-7-5-7-…7
          ~~ often followed by one or more short poems called hanka, or “envoys,”
               summarizing, supplementing, or elaborating on, the contents of the
               main poem. A tanka can serve as an envoy.

Cinquain
~ a five line poem formatted with
~ a syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2, or
~ a word count of 1-2-3-4-1, with the second & third lines as descriptors, the fourth line an emotion and the fifth line a synonym or reflection of the first line
     Butterfly Cinquain
          ~ 9 lines formatted with:
             ~ a syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2-8-6-4-2
             ~ creating a butterfly pattern
     ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Circular poem
~
the last word of the first line rhymes with the first word of the following line and so on, returning back to the first line, with lines of any length

Cleave
~ a poem without rhyme, meter or set length. Dividing the poem into left and right sides reveals two separate poems, in addition to the original

Clerihew
~ often silly, were first devised by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
~ the first line is the name of the subject (usually famous)
~ subject is placed in an absurd light, or with unknown or spurious attributes
~ rhyme scheme AABB, and often forced
~ irregular line length and meter
          ~ learn more at verse.org

Concrete Poem
~ the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem

Constanza
~ 5 or more 3-line stanzas
~ 8 syllables per line
~ rhyme pattern abb, acc, add, aee, aff, etc.
~ first lines combined also may be read as a poem
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Crossout/Blackout Poetry
~ a form of Found Poetry using existing text from a single outside source, with text crossed or blacked out, leaving a poem that flows from beginning to end

Echo verse
~ a poem with no set meter or line length, but with an echo of the last syllable (or two) following each line

Ekphrasis
~ an ekphrastic poem is a poem inspired or stimulated by a work of art
          ~ more on Ekphrastic Poetry can be found here

Elevenie (11 words in 5 lines)
~ line 1 – one word, a noun
~ line 2 – two words describing the noun
~ line 3 – three words, explaining where, how of the noun
~ line 4 – four words with further explanation
~ line 5 – one word – outcome, conclusion

Etheree
~ a poem of ten lines and a syllable count of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, with rhyme optional. The order also can be reversed, for 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Fib
~ a poetic form created by Gregory K. Pincus that plays off the mathematical Fibonacci sequence to arrive at the syllable count per line.
          ~ a 6-line poem, has a count of 1/1/2/3/5/8 – each count determined
            by adding the 2 previous line-counts
          ~ a multi-stanza poem can be written by linking multiple Fibs together,
            even reversing them

Found Poetry
~ existing texts from outside sources are refashioned, reordered and presented as poems
~ often from newspaper articles, books or other poems
~ Cross-out/Blackout Poetry is a form of Found Poetry
          ~ find more details at poets.org

Ghazal
~ five or more couplets, the same length, meter not required
~ first couplet rhymes; 1 to 3 words in 2nd lines repeated; rhyme – aA bA cA dA eA
~ (optional) internal rhyme in second lines, preceding repeated rhyme
~ possible naming or reference to author in last couplet
~ traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians
          ~ find more details at poets.org

Gogyohka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh)
~ a form of Japanese poetry pioneered by Enta Kusakabe in the 1950s
~ 5-line poetry ~ like tanka, but with freedom from restraints
~ no fixed syllable requirement
~ no conventions regarding content
~ brief lines in keeping with the tradition of Japanese short verse
          ~ find more details here

Golden Shovel
~ “The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken often, but not invariably, from a Brooks poem.” This was first done by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, with his poem The Golden Shovel.

Haibun
~ prose, often about a journey and in the first person
~ followed by a haiku or tanka
     ~
One-bun (a short-form haibun created by Jim Kacian)
         ~ one line of prose (including title) and a (one-line) haiku

Haiku
~ a form of Japanese poetry – three lines and a syllable count 5-7-5
~ a syllable count of 3-5-3 is often preferred

~ more depth is given in
this discussion of haiku
          Fusion Haiku
          ~ a new haiku inspired by the words in two haiku (“fused”)
                     ~
introduced by Kristjaan Panneman at
Carpe Diem Haiku Kai
          Hay(na)ku
          ~ a variant on the haiku, with a three-line stanza — 1/2/3 words
          ~
sometimes chained to create a longer poem

Ha’sonnet ~ created by MHenry and Grant Hayes at RhymeZone
~ follows some of the sonnet rules within a short form
        ~ seven lines with four syllables   each
        ~ first four lines set up the poem like the first two stanzas of a sonnet
        ~ fifth and sixth line contain a little turn, or volta,
                preferably unexpected, like the third stanza of a sonnet
        ~ seventh line is a resolution, or turn, like the final couplet of a sonnet
        ~ rhyming is optional, but suggested as a b a b c c dd
                ~ seventh line (dd) rhyming on the second and fourth syllable

Hourglass Poetry
~ a poem with any number of stanzas, with 8 lines each
~ syllable progression of 5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5
~ centered text

Kyoka
~ a form of Japanese poetry similar to tanka, but a parody
~ its relationship to tanka is similar to that of a senryū to a haiku
~ syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7

Kyrielle
~ a poem of at least 3 quatrains, with lines of 8 syllables and a rhyme pattern of aabB, ccbB, ddbB, etc. or abaB, cbcB, dbdB, etc. or axaZ, bxbZ, cxcZ, etc. (the last line of each quatrain repeating) The fourth line of the first stanza is used as the fourth line of each succeeding stanza
     Kyrielle Sonnet
     ~ 14 lines formatted with:
          ~ 3 rhyming quatrains & 1 non-rhyming couplet
          ~ rhyme pattern aabB, ccbB, ddbB, AB or abaB, cbcB, dbdB, AB
          ~ find more details at
Shadow Poetry

Lantern (Lanturne)
~ a poem with five lines and a syllable count of 1-2-3-4-1 — centered, giving it a shape similar to a Japanese lantern
          ~
find more details at Shadow Poetry

Limerick
~ five-lines, predominantly anapestic trimeter
~ a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA,
~ third and fourth lines are shorter
~ usually humorous and frequently rude

Lune (American Haiku)
~ three lines with a syllable count of 5-3-5, or a word count of 5-3-5

Magnetic Poetry
~ words provided at magneticpoetry.com are used to write a poem, then captured in a screenshot
~ might be considered Found Poetry

Meta Poetry
~ a poem about poetry

Minimalist Poetry
~ as concise as possible
~ conveys meaning while eliminating any unnecessary words
~ does not rely on story or narrative
~ does not set scenes, introduce characters
     or provide descriptions of specific actions or events.

Minute Poetry
~ a poem with 3 stanzas with 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4 syllable count
~ rhyme pattern – aabb, ccdd, eeff

Monotetra
~ a poem with stanzas of 4 lines
~ 8 syllables and 4 beats per line
~ line end-words within each stanza rhyme
~ the first 4 syllables in the fourth line of each stanza repeat
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Narrative Poetry
~ presents a series of events through action and dialogue
     with plot, characters, and setting
~ typically has only one speaker

Nocturne
~ a poem with a night scene

Nonet
~ a poem of nine lines and a syllable count of 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, with rhyme optional. The order also can be reversed, for 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9

Nove otto
~ a poem with nine lines, each having eight syllables in four beats, rhyme pattern aabccbddb
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Palinode
~ an ode in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem

Pantoum
~ a series of quatrains
~ the second and fourth lines of each stanza repeated
     as the first and third lines of the next stanza
~ the first and third lines of the first stanza reappear     as the fourth and second lines of the last stanza
~ where possible, ideas of repeating lines shift (via punctuation, etc.)

Prose Poem
~ a few lines to several pages long, appearing as prose, but reading like poetry
~ lacks the line breaks associated with poetry
~ maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme
~ may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects

Puente
~ three stanzas, including a one-line middle stanza
~ first and third stanzas convey a different element or feeling,
     but they have an equal number of lines, (writer’s choice)
~ puente (Spanish for bridge) – middle stanza set off with a tilde (~) at each end
          ~ functions as the ending for the last line of the first stanza
              and as the beginning for the first line of the third stanza
          ~ rhyme is optional.

Quadrille ~ a form introduced at dVerse Poets Pub
~ a poem of 44 words (any format), not including the title
~ use of a prompt word – or form of the word (e.g. gather, gathered, gathering) – in the body of the poem

Renga
~ Collaborative poetry in which one poet writes the first stanza (hokku), which is 3 lines long, with 17 syllables. The next poet adds the second stanza, a couplet with seven syllables per line. There may be several stanzas, with writers alternating until the poem is complete.   I have participated in a form of renga at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, creating a “tan renga,” which is essentially a tanka.
          ~ find more details at poets.org

Rondel
~ 13 lines or 14 lines, 8 syllables per line, open meter
~ two quaitrains followed by a quintet (13 lines total) or a sestet (14 lines total)
~ first two lines are a refrain for second and third stanzas
~ rhyme pattern ABba abAB abbaA(B)
          ~ find more details at Wikipedia

Rondelet
~ a poem of 7 lines, with 2 rhymes – AbAabbA
~ the refrain (A) has 4 syllables
~ the other lines have 8 syllables
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Rubaiyat
~ originally a form of Persian poetry,
     now with derivatives in English and other languages
~ a series of quatrains with a first quatrain rhyme scheme of AABA
~ each subsequent quatrain uses the previous third line for its rhyme,
     thus AABA, BBCB, … CCAC… for the number of quatrains,
     with the third line of the final quatrain using the rhyme of the first quatrain
~ a single-quatrain poem is called a Rubaʿi – rhyme scheme of AABA or AAAA

San san
~ 8 lines, rhyme pattern a,b,c,a,b,d,c,d
~ with 3 terms or images repeated 3 times each

Sedoka
~ an unrhymed poem composed of two katauta. A katauta is able to stand alone, with three lines and a syllable pattern of 5-7-7. A Sedoka therefore has the syllable count: 5-7-7, 5-7-7.
~ each katauta must be able to be read independently, but also create a cohesive singular work in the Sedoka.

Senryū
~ a poem of three lines and a syllable count 5-7-5 (or less)
~ unlike haiku, senryū is more concerned with human nature, and is often humorous or satiric

Sept
~ a poem with seven lines and a syllable count of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1

Sevenling ~ created by Roddy Lumsden, a Scottish poet
~ a seven-line poem composed of three stanzas
~ first stanza ~ three connected or contrasting statements, or a list of three details, names or possibilities. (all of the three lines ~ or ~ contained anywhere within them)
~ second stanza ~ similarly contains an element of three, connected directly or indirectly or not at all to the preceding stanza (again, anywhere within the three lines)
~stanza three ~ a single line that should should act as a narrative summary or punchline or as an unusual juxtaposition
~ the tone should be mysterious, offbeat or disturbing, as if only a fragment of the story has been told
~ title is optional ~ if used, then “Sevenling (first few words)”

Shadorma
~ six line stanza(s) with a syllable syllable count of 3/5/3/3/7/5

Sijo (a Korean verse form related to haiku and tanka)
~ three lines of 14-16 syllables each
~ a total of 44-46 syllables
~ a pause near the middle of each line
~ first half of the line contains six to nine syllables
~ the second half should contain no fewer than five
Originally intended as songs, sijo can treat romantic, metaphysical, or spiritual themes. Whatever the subject, the first line introduces an idea or story, the second supplies a “turn,” and the third provides closure.
Modern Sijo are sometimes printed in six lines.

Sonnet
~ a poem consisting of 14 lines (iambic pentameter), 10 syllables each, with a particular rhyming scheme:
~ #1) abab cdcd efef gg
~ #2) abba cddc effe gg
~ #3) abba abba cdcd cd
~ A Shakespearean (English) sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet, and rhymes abab cdcd efef gg
~ An Italian sonnet is composed of an octave, rhyming abbaabba, and a sestet, rhyming cdecde or cdcdcd, or in some variant pattern, but with no closing couplet (Also, 11 syllables possible per line)
~ French sonnets follow in this same pattern, but normally have 12 syllables per line

Tanaga
~ originally from the Philippines, with seven-syllable lines in four line stanzas,
each line rhyming
~ modern form may have a variable rhyme pattern

Tanka
~ a form of Japanese poetry with 5 lines and syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Tau-ku
~
a derivative of haiku, but with a line structure based on the mathematical number tau (τ)or 6.28, with three lines having a syllable count of 6-2-8

Tilus [tee-loo-hz]
~ 3 lines regarding nature, similar to haiku form
~ syllable progression 6-3-1
~ last line is a summation

Trilonnet
~ a poem with 4 stanzas, 3 line each
~ 8 syllables per line
~ rhyme pattern abc, abc, abc, abc, dd
          ~ find more details at Shadow Poetry

Trilune (created by Jane Dougherty)
~ 3 stanzas – each with 3 lines of 9 syllables
~ rhyme pattern abc, dec, fgc

Triolet
~ a stanza poem, with rhyme scheme ABaAabAB. (CAPITALS denote repeated lines)
~ commonly with 8 syllables per line, in iambic tetrameter

Tritina
~ a poem with three three-line stanzas and a fourth stanza of one line
~ the same three end words used in the first three stanzas, in this order in successive stanzas: 1,2,3; 3,1,2; 2,3,1
~ the last, one-line stanza using the three words

Troiku
~ three haiku, with each of the three lines from a suggested haiku as the first line of each haiku in the troiku
          ~ find more details at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai