Poetry 101 - What is poetry? Different types of poetry? Examples of poems and more!

Whether you're new to the world of poems or an avid reader already - find out more about all things poetry! In this post you'll learn what poetry is, the different types of poems, examples of great poems and more.

Dead Poets Society Poetry Quote
Dead Poets Society (1989)

My introduction to poetry


At a young age I never understood poetry.


I couldn't enjoy the way it was taught at school. I never studied poets I connected with so I thought it wasn't for me. I struggled to relate to words that made no structural sense. I got drained and my mind always trailed away when reading poems.


Put it simply, poetry was boring. Or so I thought. Not fully knowing that the face of poetry is so much more diverse and engaging.


Now? I believe that


Poetry is phenomenal.


It is unique in power. The way it stirs our voices, expresses truths and opens new worlds. Leaving lasting impact on those who hear us.


Alas, if you're someone who isn't into poetry... I'm here to open up a whole new world to you. As someone who went from not really understanding the art form, to self-publishing my first poetry book, I can tell you it's well worth it!


This post will let you discover the wonders of poetry, the different styles and so much more!


Poetry 101: Discover everything you need to know


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What is poetry? Some definitions


The literary world is still often in debate about what a poem actually is. Some swear poems must have rhythm and rhyme, whilst others also consider styles such as rap, psalms and spoken word as different forms of poetry.


One useful definition of a poem is ‘a piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction (sometimes involving rhyme), rhythm, and imagery.’


For me, I think of poetry as the art of words. The ability to convey and express deeper meaning (often succinctly and with great nuance) using different writing styles and techniques.


Poets use their words, lines and stanzas to convey thoughts and emotions or to depict stories in a creative and often succinct way that creates imagery for the reader. From the distinct styles of Shakespeare, Larkin and Hughes to the more contemporary voices we hear today, poetry is a vast and exciting art form.


Some more definitions of poetry:

Poetry (derived from the Greekpoiesis, "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning. (Wikipedia)
Poetry is literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature. (Oxford Languages)
Poetry is the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts. (Dictionary.com)
A quality of beauty and intensity of emotion regarded as characteristic of poems. (Oxford Languages)
Poetry is a style of writing that uses a formal organization and that is often divided up into lines or stanzas, or it refers to something beautiful. (Your Dictionary)

Different types of poetry


From sonnets to soliloquies, odes, elegies and more, discover the diversity of poetry! In this section, I've described the different types of poetic forms and some of their main or most popular uses. These types of poems all produce contrasting responses from the reader, depending on the poet's intentions. You may already be familiar with some forms whilst others will be quite new. Here are the different types of poetic forms:


Blank verse

Blank verse is poetry written with a specific meter (rhythmic structure) that does not rhyme.


Free verse

Free verse is poetry that does not have a prominent rhyme scheme, meter or musical form.


Rhymed poetry

Rhymed poetry refers to a poem that rhymes. Poets can use a range of contrasting rhyming patterns throughout their work.


Lyric poetry

Lyric poetry is a vast category of poetry that concerns our feelings and emotions.


Sonnet

A sonnet is a fourteen line poem which usually concerns the theme of love. There are different styles of sonnets, the most well-known being the Shakespearean sonnet.


Soliloquy

A soliloquy is a monologue in a play where the character speaks outwardly to themselves, to express inner thoughts that are unknown to the audience. Though not always poems, the most famous soliloquies such as those by William Shakespeare, are.


Limerick

A limerick is a single stanza poem, consisting of five lines, with an AABBA rhyme pattern. The subject of limericks are usually short tales or descriptions.


Epic poetry

Epic poetry refers to lengthy, narrative poems. Due to the length, these long poems usually explore the extraordinary tales and adventures of characters.


Narrative poetry

Narrative poems are those which tell a story. A good example of a narrative poem would be Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s well-known The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


Haiku

A haiku is a unique style of poetry originating from Japan. The poem consists of only three lines, of which the first line has has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables.


Pastoral poetry

Pastoral poetry concerns the natural world, rural life, and beautiful landscapes. A pastoral poem will often depict open areas.


Elegies

An elegy is a poem that deals with the theme of death or loss. This can also include themes such as mourning, redemption or consolation. You may often hear an elegy read at a funeral or memorial.


Ode

An ode is a poem written as a tribute to a specific subject.


Ballad

A ballad is a melodious form of poetry. It is a narrative that can be poetic or musical and is usually rhymed.


Villanelle

This is a nineteen-line poem that consists of five tercets (three lines) and a quatrain (four lines). This style of poem usually has a specific internal rhyme scheme.


As you read more poetry, you'll become more familiar with the different forms and may find that you naturally enjoy one style of poems more than others. Similarly, as a poet, you may prefer to write in blank verse instead of using rhyme. That is simply the variety of enjoying great poetry!


Examples of poetry


Now that you're familiar with the different types of poetry, I've put together some well-known poems (as well as a personal one from my poetry book). I believe these poems are accessible regardless of your level of knowledge in poetry.