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Information and Advice on Writing Poetry

Updated on December 9, 2017


Poetry is a well renowned form of literature, that uses rhythmic qualities of language to conjure up meaningful expressions, using ambiguity, irony, symbolism and other stylistic elements of poetic diction, which often leaves a poem receptive to multiple interpretations. Poetry can also portray cultural happenings or belief’s, and in some cases poetry has been known to describe adventures that people have under taken during their lifetime. Through the generations, many different styles of poetry have developed. Poetry like; lyric, epic, elegy, dramatic, satirical, speculative, verse fable, and narrative. Whereas, these different styles of poetry each play a significant role in the evolutionary pattern of poetry. For example, in today’s poetry notable forms of significance may be present between individual verses, in patterns that rhyme or have rhythm.


Literature. | Source

A Brief History of Poetry.

  • The history of poetry dates as far back as The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an epic set of poems from ancient Mesopotamia, situated in west Asia. The legendary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh (Sumerian for Gilgamesh) king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Uruk (c. 2100 BC). These poems are also considered to be the earliest known surviving works of this type of literature. Furthermore, a lot of earlier poems are known to have developed from folk songs or through the need to express declared epics.
  • There were also many ancient attempts to divine poetry for instance, the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle created a scientific method known today as Aristotle’s Poetics, composed around 330 BCE, focused on speech in rhetoric, drama, song and comedy. The Poetics of Aristotle came about partly as a response to his teacher Plato, who disputed that poetry is representation of mere appearance, which is misleading, and morally suspect. Whereas, Aristotle’s works concluded forming categories for each species of text and organizing them into separate logical systems, instead of accepting that poets should be expelled from society. Today, Aristotle’s accomplishments are still an inspiration towards Western aesthetic philosophy and artistic creation.

Aristotle Poetics.

Poetic Forms.

  • Poetic forms have been known to be more flexible in modernist and post-modernist or contemporary poetry, which has a continual process of less structured forms, compared to those in previous literary eras. Many, if not all poets today recognize structures or forms, which are structural elements used in poetry. These are regular line patterns in which to follow, that should consist of rhyme, rhythm and stanza length or verse paragraph, and larger combination of lines known as cantos. Which sometimes use a broader visual presentation of words and calligraphy. These basic units of poetic form are often combined into larger structures, called poetic forms or poetic modes, as in the sonnet or haiku.
  • Stanzas are the lines of writing on a page or in a paragraph. These lines can also be based on the number of metric feet, or give emphasis to a rhyming repetition at the end of the lines. Lines can also serve other purposes, especially along points where the line is not written in a formal metrical pattern. Lines can separate, compare or contrast thoughts which have already been expressed in different units, and can also emphasize a change in tone. Whereas, lines of poems are organized into stanzas, which are selected by the number of lines they possess. For example, a collection of two lines is known as a couplet, three lines a triplet, four lines a quatrain and so on. These lines might or might not relate to each other in rhyme or rhythm. For example, a triplet might possess three lines with identical meter which rhyme, or three lines bound together by a common meter only.

Poetic Styles.

  • Lyric poetry is a style that portrays a more personal nature, which are constructed in the version of short or small poems. Poems of this type are also melodic and thoughtful, rather than representing personalities and activities. This is the kind of poem that allows poets to express their own feelings, states of mind, and perception. Notable poets in this field include Chisttine de Pizan, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Antonio Machado, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. A good example of lyrical poetry would be that of Kevin Max (born August 17, 1967) an American singer, songwriter, and poet. Who is also best known as being a member of the Christian pop group DC Talk.

A Lyrical Poem.

By Kevin Max.
By Kevin Max. | Source
  • Epic poetry is a field of poetry within its own right, even though its classified as a major form of narrative literature. This field of poetry is often characterized as having prolonged poems, which portray occurrences of heroics concerned with the culture of a chosen period. This way of writing also communicates, using a continuous narrative to describe the life and works of a heroic or mythological person. Examples of epic poems would be the Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic of King Gesar, and the Cantar de Mio Cid. Epic poetry is also known to have loss its popularity in the west after the early 20th century, though some notable epic poetry continued to be written by poets like Derek Walcott, who was awarded The Noble Prize in Literature in 1992 for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.
  • Elegy poetry is a way of writing to describe a mournful, melancholy or plaintive poem. Elegy poems can also sometimes reflect something that seems to be a bit strange or weird, like the reflection of a sorrowful death. Some examples of elegiac poetry would include Charlotte Turner Smith, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William butler Yeats, and Virginia Woolf.
  • Dramatic poetry is a way of writing a drama inverse, which is designed to be spoken or sung. This form of dramatic verse usually occurs in works like a play, composed completely in a poetic form. Whereas, the practise of dramatic verse writing dates as far back as ancient Greece. Also, the English Renaissance saw the high of dramatic verse in the English-speaking world of theatre, with such famous playwrights as Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare.
  • Satirical poetry is a more serious form of writing, which is used to express sarcasm or mockery. Whereas, this kind of poetry was mostly used for political purposes in the early Roman times. Furthermore, one of the masters of 17th century English satirical poetry was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. Also, satirical poets outside England include Poland’s Ignacy Krasicki, Azerbaijan’s Sabir, and Portugal’s Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage. A good example of this kind of writing would be that of a migrant writer Nabeel Philip Mohan: Pluma Migrant Writer Guild in Kuwait’s first collection of epistolary poems.

A Satirical Poem.

By Nabeel Philip Mohan.
By Nabeel Philip Mohan. | Source
  • Speculative poetry is also categorized as fantastic poetry, this type of poetry is very imaginative and can express things or places that are beyond reality. Sometimes, this form of poetry is simplified through using the term science fiction or in other cases described as weird or horrific. Whereas, speculative poetry is used in modern science fiction and horror fiction magazines. Furthermore, Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849 who was best known for his poetry and short stories, especially his tales of mystery and the macabre, is at times considered to be the father of speculated poetry.
  • Verse fable poetry is an ancient way of writing poems, which features animals, plants, inanimate objects, and natural forces of nature. Verse fables also use a variety of meter and rhyme patterns. Notable verse fabulists include Vishnu Sarma, Phaedrus, Marie de France, Robert Henryson, Biernat of Lublin, and Jean de La Fontaine. A good Example of this way of writing would be that of an award-winning writer of poems known as Hunter Coch.

A Verse Fable Poem.

By Hunter Coch.
By Hunter Coch. | Source
  • Narrative poetry is a type of poetry that tells a story, this is usually about a happening or an event that has taken place. This kind of poetry is often set aside and is only use for small poems that generally have a lot of appeal and common interest. Whereas most narrative poetry like Scottish and English ballads, Baltic, and Slavic heroic poems are known as performance poetry, which has roots in a preliterate spoken tradition. A good example of this way of writing would be by John McCrae, who after graduating with an honors degree from Medical School in Toronto in 1898, served in the artillery during the second Boer War in South Africa (1899-1901). Wrote a poem titled In Flanders Fields.

A Narrative Poem.

By John Mc Crae.
By John Mc Crae. | Source

© 2017 George Gormley

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