Descriptions and examples of various poetry forms.
(For ASIAN-INSPIRED FORMS and for GLOSSARIES OF LITERARY TERMS, scroll to the lower half of the page.)

Abecedarian and Acrostic
A brief but sufficient introduction to the two forms, with an example of each plus several links. From Poets.org .
Excellent discussion and illustration of the single, double, and triple acrostic. Written by Smitha Chakravarthula.
Brief definitions of several types of ballads, with links to a wide variety of samples. From Wikipedia.
Part of a comprehensive course on poetry. From Connections: A Hypertext Resource for Literature.
A brief definition and history, and links to examples. From Poets.org .
Blank Verse
Al Rocheleau's thorough, understandable explanation of one of the basic forms of poetry in English.
Blank Verse
Definition, with history of its development and links to abundant examples. Wikipedia.
Blank Verse
A detailed delving into what makes blank verse tick; also a history of the form. From the Poetry Knowledge Zone .
A poetic form composed of lines borrowed from poems by other poets. A brief definition, one example, and links to a few poets who have used the form. From Poets.org .
John Hewitt's intro to the cinquain, with examples, links and comments from readers.
AHApoetry's cinquain page with brief definition and contemporary samples.
Links to major cinquain sites, including the complete Adelaide Crapsey cinquains. Click on the Description button for explanation of the form. From the dmoz Open Directory Project.
Amaze: The Cinquain Journal.
How to Write a Clerihew, from Poetry4kids . Clear and simple definition, but it is all you need to know to write one; with examples.
From Wikipedia. Brief definition, with examples, including The World's shortest Clerihew.
Clear explanation, with examples from Couplet
From a Craft of Poetry course taught by Vince Gotera at the University of Northern Iowa focusing on writing poems in rhyme, meter, and inherited forms.
Created by Frieda Dorris, Robert Simonton, and Eve Braden; contains three quatrains, each requiring a different pattern.
Double Dactyl
The fun-filled Double Dactyl as explained by Wikipedia; with examples.
Dramatic Monologue: An Introduction
Brief explanation with links to other discussions of the form.
This traditional Welsh short poem comes in several forms, all syllabic and involving rigid patterns of rhyme and half rhyme. This is a good intro, with plenty of links to investigate further.
Englynion (englyns)
Short definitions and templates for writing each of eight types of englyns. From The Poets Garret.
John Hewitt's informative intro to the Epistle, with an example.
A form created by Larry Gross, patterned after blank verse. This is his explanation of the form, with example.
A quatrain with rhyme patterns at both the beginning and ending of lines. Created by Lencio Dominic Rodrigues. Definition, with examples.
From The Limerick Special Interest Group. Along with the next item, the best online sites I've seen for the form.
Limericks Just for the Fun of It
Excellent. Includes A Dozen How-to Tips for Beginners.
Handy links to other limerick sites. From the dmoz Open Directory Project, .
The Limerick
Robert Lo's intro to limericks with examples.
Little Willie
Created in 1902 by Harry Graham, this nonsense quatrain has much in common with the limerick. From Larry Gross's theWORDshop pages of poetry forms.
The English Ode
Links to discussions of the ode.
The Meditative Romantic Ode
From Lilia Milani's Brooklyn College course guidelines comes this thorough discussion; lists examples but does not include any.
A good starting point, but neglects a basic requirement: the function of the ode as a meditation on a particular subject. Includes a worthwhile discussion of what is not an ode. From Bob Newman's interesting site, A Guide to Verse Forms.
So You Want To Write An Ode
Interesting beginner's intro to the basics of writing an ode, including the Pindaric and Horatian.
A single seven-line stanza conceived in 1999 by Craig Tigerman, Lead Editor of Sol Magazine.
From The Craft of Poetry, hosted by Vince Gotera. Includes a discussion of the pantoum.
From The Craft of Poetry, hosted by Vince Gotera.
Excellent how-to article by Ariadne Unst, The Sestina Verse Form.
The Sonnet Verse Form by Joan Zimmerman: An excellent introduction, explaining differences and characteristics of a good many variations of the form.
The Craft of Poetry, hosted by Vince Gotera.
Sonnet Central
Best sonnet site around. Definitions, instructions for writing, articles and sonnets from 600 years of sonneteers, from Petrarch to the 20th century, plus a Sonnet Magnet board for instant composing and other attractions as well; you can even submit poems to the site and read those of others.
The Craft of Poetry, hosted by Vince Gotera.
Tercet and Triad
John Hewitt's brief intro to the 3-line verse pattern, with examples.
Terza Rima
Smitha Chakravarthula defines and illustrates this verse pattern adapted from Italian poets of the 13th century. Includes helpful hints on using meter and rhyme.
A four stanza poem created by Dr. Charles A. Stone. The first stanza has four lines and the last three stanzas three lines each, with the first line of each repeating the respective line of the first stanza. Brief definition and several examples.
The Triolet Verse Form by Joan Zimmerman, a practical how-to.
A 10-line pattern modeled on the Sestina: three 3-line stanzas plus a final line. A host of examples, too.
Ariadne Unst's explanation and example.
Villanelle and Terzanelle
The Craft of Poetry, hosted by Vince Gotera.


Climbing Rhyme
Larry Gross's introduction to a simple form of this ancient Burmese verse pattern.
Burmese Climbing Rhyme
Smitha Chakravarthula's explication of the pattern seems to be based on my earlier article (See above entry), but she has added illustrations of two specific forms: the Luc Bat and the Than Bauk.
A fixed folk song form of Japanese origin, often about love or humor. Definition, example, and links to other verse patterns.
The Ghazal Page
Gino Peregrini's large site "publishes original ghazals written English, related reviews, essays and notes, and rarely, translations." It also includes useful links to other ghazal sites and much more. Accepts submissions.
A Gift of Ghazals
An in-depth article that delves not only into the life and mission of Agha Shahid Ali, foremost poet and defender of the ’true’ ghazal, but also into its making, history and predominant mood. Originally published by Louis Werner in the Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2001. Very worthwhile.
Another article by Smitha Chakravarthula; it takes the reader step by step through understanding and writing the form; with examples.
Poetic Form: Ghazal
Poetry.org’s explanation of the ghazal, with examples and a few helpful links.
The Ghazal Verse Form, a good article by Len Anderson, from Ariadne's Web.
The Haibun
The haibun is short prose poem complemented by one or more haiku. Beth Vieira's Haibun: Haikai Prose from Ariadne's Web is a brief but good intro.
Contemporary Haibun Online
This quarterly journal supplies definitions, plenty of examples and much more. Submissions accepted.
Haiga combines haiku with a visual image, so this "is about both art and poetry." Discusses both traditional and experimental haiga and includes helpful links, a workshop and works by a variety of contributors. Takes submissions.
Writing Haiku
By Alistair Scott. A good place to begin your haiku journey, but also sound advice for those already walking the long road.
An international online journal stressing the role of humor in haiku. Links to other sites. Submissions to haijinx quarterly are welcomed.
Provides access to how-to's, articles, examples, a dictionary of season words and links to other sites. From AHApoetry.
Joan Zimmerman's helpful introduction to The Haiku Verse Form, from Ariadne's Web.
Dhugal J. Lindsay's Haiku Universe
Articles on reading, writing and appreciating haiku, as well as background and links to tanka, renga, renku, and the difference between haiku and senryu.
Linked Poetry
William J. Higginson’s What is "Linked Poetry? discusses three main examples of Japanese linked verse: renga, renku and renshi.
Links to Please
A good one to bookmark. Elizabeth St Jacques' annotated links to haiku, haiga, tanka, renga and sijo sites and publications, plus forums, ecards, directories, related organizations and libraries, and much more.
Ariadne Unst's introduction to The Pantoum Verse Form.
A brief explanation of the form, with many, many examples; from an interesting Australian site hosted by Terry Clitheroe.
Bob Newman's easy to understand explanation, with example.
Quatrain and Pantoum
Damon McLaughlin introduces quatrains, including a simplified explanation of the English-language Pantoum.
Poetry In The Light
Elizabeth St Jacques provides a variety of information and examples for haiku as well as for haibun, renga, rengay, dodoistu, tanka and sijo.
What Is a Renga? Larry Gross's basic introduction to this ancient Japanese pattern, with examples and a template for seasonal renga.
Kasen Renga
An example of one of the most popular forms of renga features alternating verses by two poets, along with explanations of the requirements for each verse.
Renga: The Four Elements Renga
A variation on the ancient renga pattern, based on the four basic elements: fire, earth, air and water; with example and links.
[C]ollaborative poetry in the rengay form. A brief intro to the form created by Garry Gay, with links to several other Rengay articles and copious examples. By Michael Dylan Welch.
Rengay Verse Form
Extensive discussion by Joan Zimmerman, with examples. Explains the differences between rengay and renga/renku.
Renku Home
William J. Higginson's extensive explanations of renku (Haikai no renga) and other linking patterns. Includes an article on the differences between renga and renku.
Ariadne Unst's The Rubáiyát Verse Form. One of the more understandable explanations of this pattern.
The original home of English-language sijo on the web, a part of Larry Gross's extensive theWORDshop. Explanation and history of classical sijo, with abundant examples and links to other pages.
Elizabeth St Jacques' excellent and extensive site for sijo.
Introduction to Sijo
A lecture presented by Professor David McCann of Harvard University, sponsored by the Chicago Public Library and Sejong Cultural Society, April 10, 2010. Includes definition of the form and both classical and contemporary examples. Very helpful.
Email forum for posting sijo and related discussions. Friendly to beginners and open to all. Hosted by Larry Gross.
A new site under development by the Sejong Cultural Society provides sijo examples and helpful links.
Tan Renga
Larry Gross's The World of Tan Renga explains the form and provides examples.
Joan Zimmerman's introduction to The Tanka Verse Form.
From the Stylus Poetry Journal comes this very informative article by Janice M. Bostok explaining the nature and history of tanka and its relationship to waka, renga and tan renga.
Informative definitions, articles and history, with examples and links to other sites. From AHApoetry.
Richard MacDonald's What Is A Tanka?, with historical background on tanka, sedoka and choka.
American Tanka
Journal founded in 1996; dedicated exclusively to contemporary English-language tanka. You'll find a definition of tanka in the History link.
Tanka and Sijo
Neca Stoller's definitions and examples of tanka, sedoka, sijo and haibun, with links to other sites and markets.
Created by Betty Ann Whitney, this seven-line verse based on Japanese patterns contains 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 7 syllables respectively. From Sol Magazine


All American: Glossary of Literary Terms
Alphabetical compilation by students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Bob's Byway's Glossary of Poetic Terms
Probably the most widely-known and most-used glossary on the Internet, with cross-references and informative sidelights.
Craft of Poetry
A course taught at the U of Northern Iowa; provides clear definitions and illustrations of 7 poetry forms and 7 important poetry characteristics: Style, Repetition, Rhyme & Music, Line & Meter, Imagery, Form, and Tradition.
Dictionary of Literary Terms
Fairly extensive list by Joel Sommer Littauer, with abundant examples from poetry.
Gale's Glossary of Literary Terms
Extensive,reliable glossary with extensive cross-references.
Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms
Compiled by Prof. Jack Lynch of Rutgers University. The section on poetry is limited, but offers pathways to other literary terms plus useful sections on literary history, genres and theory. Arranged by categories.
Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms
Another list by Jack Lynch, this one arranged alphabetically.
Glossary of Literary Terms
Prof. Robert Harris's extensive and reliable glossary, with easy access to its companion site, Handbook of Rhetorical Devices. Easily searchable:
Glossary of Poetic Terms
Extensive list from the U of Toronto English Library (UTEL). Thorough illustration of various sonnet forms.
Handbook of Rhetorical Devices
Extensive dictionary of rhetorical devices and figurative imagery. Companion site to Harris's Glossary of Literary Terms. Each has entries not found in the other.
Literary Terms
Lilia Milani's Brooklyn College course guidelines; relatively brief list, but clear and concise. Includes a few examples and links to more.
Extensive list of terms, though most descriptions are brief. From Bedford/St. Martin's Publ.
The Poets Garret
Not a glossary exactly. It offers clear, understandable history and background to poetic styles and forms from around the world, then defines the styles and forms and, in most cases, gives examples. By Terry Clitheroe.
Virtual Classroom Glossary of Literary Terms
Definitions of terms used in the Virtual Classroom for English, University of Cambridge.

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