20 Fun Poem Types You’ve Never Heard Of

Poetry Terms and 20 Poetry Ideas PinTo celebrate National Poetry Month (in April), I thought I would share some fun poetry ideas to get those creative juices flowing, along with a FREEBIE handouts Glossary of Poetic Terms and 20 Fun Poem Types! Last year at this time, I posted Thirty Poetry Project Ideas for National Poetry Month, so this year, I thought I would introduce some poetry ideas you may never have tried – or even heard of!

*NOTE:  Some of these are on the “challenging” side and have been so indicated with an asterisk. Have fun!

  1. Canzone*: a Canzone is a Medieval Italian lyric style poetry similar to a sonnet, with five or six stanzas and a shorter ending stanza. While the typical sonnet is 14 lines, a canzone can range from 7 to 20 lines.  Poetry Through The Ages at WebExhibits.com has done a great job of breaking down writing a canzone.
  2. Clerihew: a clerihew is a humorous poem about a person, usually well-known.  This could be a great way to have students write about a character in a novel or a famous person they are studying. The poem consists of two rhymed couplets.
  3. Dodoitsu: a type of Japanese song, often about love.  It consists of four unrhymed lines with 7,7,7,5 syllables.
  4. Etheree*: a ten-line poem of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 syllables or backward, with 10 through 1 syllable. Challenging and fun!
  5. Ghazal: originating from ancient Persia, a ghazal is essentially a set of two-line poems having to do with lost or unattainable love.  The rhyme scheme is AA, BA, CA, DA, EA, and so on.
  6. Katuata: a stand-alone, three-line poem of Japanese descent. The poem is 19 syllables or fewer, usually in 5, 7, 7 syllable lines.
  7. Kyrielle: a type of French poetry with rhyming couplets, usually written in quatrains in iambic tetrameter.  For an explanation and example, check out Writing.com‘s lesson in the Kyrielle.
  8. Lanturne: a five-line Japanese poem consisting of 1,2,3,4 and 1 syllable.  When written, the poem is supposed to look like a lantern!  Cute and fun!
  9. Naani: an Indian four-line poem with a total of 20-25 syllables
  10. Nonet: the term “nonet” refers to a group of nine.  A nonet poem consists of nine lines, beginning with nine syllables, then eight, then seven, and so on.
  11. Quinzaine: a three-line poem: the first line makes a statement and the next two lines ask a question relating to the statement.  The first line is 7 syllables, the second is 5, and the third is 3 syllables.
  12. Rispetto: from the Italian word “respect,” usually respect for a loved one. A rispetto is a Tuscan verse poem consisting of eight 11-syllable lines, usually following the rhyme scheme abab, ccdd.
  13. Rondeau*: think “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in rounds. A rondau (round) is a French form of poetry of 15 lines of eight or ten syllables arranged in three stanzas — the first stanza is five lines (quintet), the second four lines (quatrain), and the final stanza six lines (sestet).
  14. Rondelet*: also a French form, the challenging rondelet consists of one stanza with seven lines, the rhyme scheme consisting of A, b, A, b, b, b, A
  15. Sedoka: an unrhymed poem of two 3-line katuatas (see above) with the syllable count 5, 7, 7, – 5, 7, 7.
  16. Senryu: a senryu is also a Japanese form of poem, similar to a haiku, with 5, 7, 5 syllables.
  17. Tetracys*: The Tetractys is a poetic form consisting of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20).  Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1.
  18. Than-Bauk: While this ancient form may sound complicated, it is actually very easy once you understand the format!  The Than Bauk (also Thanbauk) is an old Burmese form that consists of at least three lines of only four syllables per line. Explained well here.
  19. Triolet*: the triolet is an eight-line poem with a strict rhyme and pattern of repetition. The form follows ABaAabAB.
  20. Tyburn: a 6 line poem;  the first four lines must consist of 2 syllable words and the last two lines must consist of 9 syllables: 2,2,2,2,9,9 syllables.

Have fun with these; I am sure your students will enjoy them! I hope you’ll try some of these in your classes!  If you do, please be sure to share your stories.  If you have other favorites we’ve probably never heard of, please share.

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to download (and rate, please!) the FREEBIE Glossary of Poetic Terms and 20 Fun Poem Types!

Glossary of Poetry Terms and 20 Poetry Ideas

Thirty Poetry Project Ideas for National Poetry Month!

To celebrate National Poetry Month (April), I thought I would make this month’s blog all about poetry by sharing some fun poetry ideas to get those creative juices flowing!

Years ago, while sifting through paperwork I happened upon my old “Poem Report,” dated May 24, 1989!  While the memories of working so hard to perfect my original poetry (not to mention my handwriting, since I didn’t own a computer then) came flooding back, I was able to flip through the pages with different eyes at that time—the eyes of a new teacher.  I was blessed to have so many great teachers, and although I never could remember which teacher assigned the Poem Report, I was finally able to honor her by assigning my students their own project to explore great poetry and discover their own inner poet.

Some ideas for a Poetry Project:

1)    Have students create a bio-poem.  As you can see from this site, bio-poems also work from others’ perspectives (like a character in a book) as well.

2)    Have students create “I Am” poems.  Really great activity for the beginning of the year or semester when you have new students.

3)    Have students create an “I Do Not Understand” poem. Some great examples.

4)    Also, the same blog has some excellent Found poems (anyone teach Touching Spirit Bear?)  The same can be done for any piece of literature.

5)    Have students create an “All-Lies” poem.  This is important because in order to write lies, you must know the truth.  These can be as many lines as you decide, and are generally non-rhyming.  To help students with this, you may have them write one poem all about themselves, then switch it up on them and tell them that the real assignment is to create all lies—or non-truths—about themselves.  For example, “I do not care about my friends, my room, or my iPod.  In fact, I wish I could throw away all electronic devices forever.”

6)    Have students free-write listening to music.  Or have them rewrite the lyrics of their favorite song, changing the story, or ending, or choosing better words by using a thesaurus to see what they come up with.

7)    Have students write poems in pairs—one person writes a line, then back and forth.

8)    Have students create a group poem…passing the poem around and having each one create a new line as it moves around (like the old game of telephone).  To be sure students don’t sit long without anything to do, have them work on several poems at once.  One of the rules, however, is that each line must be new and original and cannot be repeated within the same poem or in another poem!

9)    Give students a list of 6-10 random words and have them create a poem based upon your guidelines.

10) Have each student bring a photo to school.  This can be a personal photo, or a picture from a magazine or newspaper.  Have students create a 15-line poem telling the story of the photo, or from the perspective of the person in the photo.  If the photo is of a place or thing, have students write a poem from the perspective of that place or thing.

11) Have students turn a short story, tall-tale, children’s story, etc. into a poem.

12) Have students choose an article from the newspaper and create a poem based upon the information.

13) Have students create a poem in which every line of the poem must begin with a certain letter of the alphabet, i.e. all lines begin with the letter “s.”

14) Have students create their own epitaph in limerick form (I always used this one at Halloween—the kids loved it!)

There once was a teacher, Mrs. Bowers

Who lies here pushing up flowers

Her students drove her to death

Until her last breath

And now she’s out haunting for hours

15) Have students write a eulogy in poetry form for something they value, i.e. iPod, cell phone, their room, their car, their privacy.

16) Have students create a poem from headlines in newspapers, magazines, etc.  Be sure to indicate number of lines and whether it should rhyme or not.

17) Have students create a Sestina (six-stanzas, unrhymed). Challenging and fun!

18) Have students create their own sonnets.  Be sure to give the rules!

19) Have students write either a Tanka or a Haiku.

20) Have students create an Up and Down Poem.

21) Have students create a Five Senses Poem.  First, describe an emotion by assigning it a color (sight), then tell how it smells, tastes, sounds, and feels.

22) Have students create a synonym poem.  See Colin McNaughton’s “I’m Talking Big!” which begins “I’m talking big!  I’m talking huge! I’m talking enormous, immense, tremendous!”

23) Have students create a 5-6 line tongue-twister (this can be a good exercise in alliteration as well)

24) Have students create Cinquains.  Short and sweet!

25) Have students create a Pantoum, a Malayan poem invented in the 15th Century.

26) Have students create acrostics.  I am sure they have done this for their own name at one point in their lives, so have them create an acrostic using a more challenging word, such as their favorite sport, subject in school, or—even better—a character from literature!

27) Have students create an “ode” to one of their favorite things.  This can be a tangible object, like their cell phone, or something intangible, like exhaustion or frustration.

28) Create poetry across the curriculum!  Have students create a poem about a figure or event they are studying in history or social studies, or have students create a poem using at least 10 math words or concepts.  For science, have students write a poem based on the biology of a frog or other concept they have been studying.

29) Have students research a poet and write a biography—or better yet, a poem—about the poet!

30) Have students choose a famous poem, then create a copy of the poem.  They can create a copy by imitating the style, rhythm, and rhyme of the poem.

Although in the “old days” I put my report together in a couple pieces of construction paper and a few brads, times have obviously changed.  Have students compile their poetry projects in an original blog.  Blog hosting is free and gives a perfect opportunity for students to share their work.  Or, at the very least, have one of your more tech-savvy students create a blog for sharing each class’s work.  Students can also create work on their technological skills by compiling their work in a PowerPoint presentation or on CD.

Be sure to outline the guidelines and expectations for their poems. At the very least, let them know when they can or cannot rhyme, and how many lines minimum (or maximum) the poem should have.

Other ideas:

National Poem In Your Pocket Day is April 14.  Celebrate the written word by sharing your favorite poem with friends and colleages! See Poets.org for more info.

Start a Poetry Slam at your school.  Info available at Poetry Slam, Inc. at http://www.poetryslam.com/ or http://nps2011.com/

Other fun stuff is available at Scholastic.com including an interactive poetry machine, poetry writing workshops, tips for reading and analyzing poetry, poetry unit plans, and more!

Links consulted/referenced: