Different Types of Poetry

types of poetrySometimes convoluted, yet always uniquely beautiful, poetry, as poet Rita Dove once put it, “is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” There are different types of poetry, each powerful in their own way. 

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), a Welsh poet whose work includes “Do not go gentle into that good night” once said, “Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.” 

Poetry, as Thomas has described it, incites emotion, positive or negative; it’s a dichotomy in itself. Each reader reacts differently, and one poem can have several different meanings. From haikus to limericks to sonnets, poetry has remained a cornerstone in society, an art form so respected and revered that it calls for a representative in the public eye. But what are common types of poetry? What differentiates them? Who writes them?

How to Write Different Types of Poetry

Ballad. Couplet. Epic. Elegy. Free verse. Haiku. Limerick. Lyric. Sonnet. There are so many different types of poetry. Each call for different rhythms, different structure, number of stanzas, and themes. Let’s look at just a few poetic forms:

  • Epic: An epic poem is a long, usually book-length, poem that usually has a heroic or adventurous theme. These types of poems are exciting, and tell a story of a specific person or group. An example of an epic poem is Homer’s Odyssey.
  • Free verse: Free verse is exactly what it sounds like: free. Free of rhyme scheme, pattern, or sound. It can closely resemble normal human speech. An example of a free verse poem is Come slowly – Eden! by Emily Dickinson.
  • Haiku: A form of Japanese poetry, in which the first line has five syllables, the second has seven syllables, and the third has five syllables. The 5-7-5 syllable rule is an English approximation. A very popular haiku poet is Matsuo Bashô. Haikus are often taught in school, as they are great types of poems for kids.
  • Sonnet: A sonnet is composed of fourteen lines and follows a rhyme scheme. A Shakespearean sonnet is usually written in iambic pentameter. A list of popular Shakespearean sonnets can be found here (there are other types of sonnets, of course, including Petrarchan sonnet and Italian sonnet).

There are obviously way more common types of poems than just the ones listed here. For a longer and more detailed list of poetry types, go here.

Rhyme schemes and meter

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyme that comes at the end of verses in a poem. Letters are assigned to different lines within the stanza and those that match rhyme one another. Here are just a couple of rhyme schemes used:

  • Alternate rhyme: every other line rhymes. This is also known as ABAB. The first and third line rhyme (A) and the second line and fourth line rhyme (B).
  • Ballade: ballades (not to be confused with a ballad) are composed of three stanzas that each have eight lines (otherwise known as an octave) and one quatrain (four stanzas). The rhyme scheme for the octaves is ababbcbC, and the rhyme scheme for the quatrain is bcbC.
  • For more information on rhyme schemes, visit here.

Another aspect of poetry is known as meter. Meter refers to rhythm, meaning the beat of a poem (not rhyme). Different types of meter specify which syllable is to be stressed, creating the beat of the poem. Here are some examples of meter:

  • Iamb meter: the first syllable is unstressed, the second is stressed.
  • Trochee meter: the first syllable is stressed, the second is unstressed.
  • Dactyl meter: the first syllable is stressed, the second and third are unstressed.
  • For more information and examples, go here.

What is a poet laureate?

The title “Poet Laureate” originated in England. A poet laureate is appointed by the government of a country, and they are responsible for composing poems to commemorate special occasions as well as  “[seeking] to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry”. There have been many famous poets who have held this position. 

The fact that this esteemed title even exists should express just how important written works of art are, to both the individual and the collective. Having these elevated and respected places for artists is crucial in society. Art gives an outlet, a reprieve, and a sense of comfort to those who need it. To recognize someone who produces art in an official position only solidifies this importance. Poetry is so much more than just rhyming. 

What to know about self-publishing different types of poetry collections

Self-published poetry can be incredibly popular. DiggyPOD makes publishing poetry collections and chapbooks easy. There are tons of reasons why a poet should choose to self-publish. The unrivaled amount of freedom is one of the biggest reasons: the poet will decide exactly how their book is formatted, how the cover looks, and how they want to disseminate their work. The poet can choose to publish whatever types of poetry they want: haikus, limericks, sonnets, whatever!

Self-publishing poetry ensures that the artists words are sent out into the world for people to discover. Publishing poetry traditionally can be difficult, and the process can be riddled with road bumps. Traditional publishing is all about sales, also, and poetry should be appreciated as art, separate from commercial success.

A particularly popular self-published poetry collection is Amanda Lovelace’s the princess saves herself in this one, which won a Goodread’s Choice Award in 2016. Take this as an example of how successful self-published poetry can be, so long as the author takes care to self-publish it at the right company.

From Edgar Allen Poe to Keats to Chaucer to Lovelace, those who write poetry do so much more than write words that rhyme: they create beautiful art and are remembered throughout history.