What is a poem? A poem is a short piece of writing that comes from the imagination. It is usually laid out in a special structure or rhythm of lines, some rhyme and some do not. This special line structure often rhymes, but doesn’t always have to. There are many different types of poems, such as Limericks, Haiku, Cinquain, Sonnet and Free Verse.
A Limerick is a type of rhyming poem that is usually funny. The poem is made of five lines. The first and second lines rhyme and are usually longer (about eight or nine syllables), the third and fourth lines are shorter (about five or six syllables) and rhyme with each other, and the last line is the same length as the first two and rhymes with them. Limericks also usually have a twist or punch line at the end like a good joke.
A Haiku is a very short poem that comes from Japan. A Haiku poem is usually about nature or the seasons and is made up of only three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven, and the last has five syllables like the first. Unlike a Limerick, the Haiku poem rarely rhymes.
A Cinquain poem is very similar to a Haiku. This poem most often describes a person, place or thing and was invented by an American poet in the early 20th century. A Cinquain contains five lines and can be written according to a certain number of syllables for each line or a certain number of words. Like the Haiku, a Cinquain poem does not have to rhyme.
A Sonnet is very different from both the Haiku and the Cinquain. A Sonnet is a lot longer, almost like a song, and typically contains fourteen lines. This type of poem follows a strict rhyme scheme and a structure of stressed and unstressed syllables within the fourteen lines. There are also several different types of Sonnets, including English, Italian and Occitan. William Shakespeare wrote many English Sonnets, and the painter and sculptor Michelangelo was a poet of Italian Sonnets.
Unlike most forms of poetry, the Free Verse poem does not have many rules. Free Verse poems don’t have to rhyme, and usually use a distinct rhythm instead like many popular songs on the radio today. A Free Verse poem also isn’t confined to a line-by-line structure; it can be written in paragraphs or single words or any way the poet likes. Free verse is great because it allows the author lots of room for creativity.
Poetic Tips Activities
- Pay attention to your five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. Good poetry is most often based on what you learn from “listening” to the five senses.
- A poem can be funny or serious. Try your hand at writing some of both.
- You can submit the poems you write to Young Poets and read other kid’s poems from all over the world.
- Learn about metaphors and similes to understand them in the poetry you read, and to use them in the poetry you write.
- Carry a pen and paper with you wherever you go in case inspiration strikes!
- Jot down or type out your inner monologue until you run out of printer ink. Random thoughts and feelings can make some of the best lines of poetry, so just keep writing!
- Most important of all, don’t take poetry too seriously. Reading and writing poems should be fun!