V is for Verse: A Brief Introduction to Writing Poetry

I love poetry – I love the imagery, the creative use of languages, the flow of sentences and sounds. I love the portrayal of characters and the recitation of events – mini stories in small verses, single snapshot moments in longer passages, whole lives in single words.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like all poems. I don’t believe that anybody does – there are different tastes, choices, preferences. Just as you might prefer one music genre to another, or film genre, you might prefer one style of poetry over another. I tend to like poetry that is quite straight-forward, easy to read, and down to earth. Maybe a little quirky, funny, rich, metaphorical, meaningful, political, heavy, allegorical, mythological, creative. I’m not particularly interested in love poetry. There are so many poems I have read that I love, but my favourite poets are Robert Frost and GK Chesterton. It’s probably a popular choice, but my favourite poem is ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost.

I studied several poetry modules when I studied Creative Writing at university. After I graduated, I spent over a year researching different poetic formats and styles and experimenting with them. I’ve since assembled a small collection of my own poetry (which is relaunching this week!), with a second collection due this summer. In celebration, I’ll be hosting a giveaway! Come back tomorrow for more details and a chance to enter!

Sonnet

A sonnet is a poem that consists of 14 lines, and uses an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyming pattern. For an example of a sonnet,  have a look at my poem Sonnet of a King (I also use iambic pentameter and extended metaphors).

Haiku

Haikus are short, three line poems consisting of a set number of syllables (5-7-5) for each line. A traditional Japanese style of poetry, there are also a number of variations on this particular style.

Villanelle

Villanelles have a specific rhyming scheme and structure. Totalling 19 lines exactly, overall, the Villanelle consists of six stanzas. The first five stanzas each have three lines, and the sixth stanza has four. As well as the rhyming scheme, there is also a pattern of repeated lines:

A, B, A1 / A, B, A2 / A, B, A1 / A, B, A2 / A, B, A / A, B, A2, A1

Perhaps the most famous example of a Villanelle is Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’.

Free Verse

Free Verse is a popular, modern, non-structured form of poetry, consisting of no rhyme, syllable or metre patterns. There are no set lengths, stanzas, or required subject matters. Poets writing in Free Verse have full control over structure, layout, form, and style – including capitalisation and punctuation, layout, line and page breaks, mixed genres and styles, and writing methods, etc.

Limerick

A Limerick is a popular form of poem – a short verse of five rhyming lines, with an AABBA structure, and is somewhat comical in nature. It uses a set number of syllables for each line – 9, 9, 6, 6, 9, often introduces a character/person on the first line, and tells a short (amusing) story.

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2 thoughts on “V is for Verse: A Brief Introduction to Writing Poetry

  1. I love poetry too and have explored over 100 different forms. My favourites are the Japanese forms and my least favourite are the Welsh coded verses. For reading I have to admit I prefer the old masters. I really don’t “get” a lot of the more modern poetry.

    1. I’ve just been reading through your blog! You have some really useful posts and information for writers – I particularly like your revision checklist and the post on using senses.

      I really enjoyed exploring different poetic forms – there was such a variation in terms of styles, approaches, lengths, etc. I also came across some really excellent pieces – including a whole folder of poems one man had written in the style of another author/poetic form. For example, The Road Not Taken written as a sonnet, or The Raven written as a limerick, for example. It was amazing.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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