Types of Poetry and Poetry’s Place in Society

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?

Different types of poems and how to write them

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, and themes. Let’s look at just a few:

  • 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 has fourteen lines and follows a rhyme scheme. Shakespeare’s sonnets are usually written in iambic pentameter. A list of popular Shakespearean sonnets can be found here (a personal favorite is Sonnet 18).

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

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. 

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

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