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The best poetry

Updated on March 6, 2012

Lets face it, poetry has a reputation. To many people poetry is boring, too hard to understand or soppy, but not all poems are "super lame". Poetry can be engaging, uplifting, devastating and hilarious and it can be enjoyed by anyone at any time in their lives.

I think poetry is cool and, with such a diverse range of genres, styles and poets to be discovered, I'm sure you will too. Here are five types of poetry that you won't be embarrassed to be seen reading.

A depiction of the Trojan war.
A depiction of the Trojan war. | Source

Epic Poetry

Don't like poetry because you think it's too short to be interesting? Epic poetry is for you. Also known as narrative poetry, epic poetry sets out to tell a story, just like the novels you love. If you like, action, adventure and the supernatural then there are epic poems to please you.

Classic epics have been translated many times and can be as modern or as archaic as you like and many are written in prose instead of the original verse. There's well over a hundred translations of Homer in many different styles. Why not try EV Rieu's prose Iliad, published in 1950. It's a Greek v Trojan bloodbath, with brains being bashed out on all sides whilst the God's bicker on Mount Olympus.

Prose Poetry

Otherwise known as flash-fiction, prose poetry is another form of narrative verse. They are effectively tiny stories and owe as much to traditional prose as they do to poetry. There's nothing difficult to understand about the structure of these verse and avoids the sometimes convoluted structure that a meter or rhyme scheme might require in traditional poetry.

In its day prose poetry was considered controversial as it threw out the rule book on traditional verse. It was further tainted by association with Oscar Wilde, who used the form to write his poems, The Artist, The Disciple and The Master, amongst others. The Disciple is a great introduction to form, very simple to understand, with it's subject the well known tale of Narcissus. If you want something more modern, try Allen Ginsberg's A Supermarket in California.

Poetic prose: a controversial style used by two of the poetry world's most deliciously notorious characters, each with an obscenity trial to their name. What's not cool about that?

Comic Verse

Comic verse comes in many well known forms, the most prevalent being the limerick. We've all heard one, we can all write one because it follows such a simple structure, with a catchy rhyme scheme. Limericks can also be blushingly crude, which probably contributes a lot to their popularity, but clean limericks can also be funny.

Another popular style is satirists favorite, the Clerihew. This was literally dreamed up by a naughty schoolboy, Edmund Clerihew Bentley, and is a four line biography of the subject. Poke fun at someone who deserves it by writing your own, or try out WH Auden's book of clerihews, Academic Graffiti.

A WW1 battlefield grave.
A WW1 battlefield grave. | Source

War Poetry

If you think poetry is all about love, the beauty of nature, or some equally soppy topic then think again. The best war poetry has been written by soldiers, about their own personal experiences of conflict, and it is gritty, realistic, and can be humbling to read.

The genre has popped up during many wars and is still being written today, by modern war poets Lt. Col JB Brown and John Jeffcock. It was most famously written during World War One, by poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, amongst others.

If you need any proof that war poetry is amongst the best poetry ever written, then read Sassoon and Owen. Sassoon's best war poetry is often short and snappy, with a bitterly satirical ending. The General is one of his finest. Owen's best is more lyrical, but there's little beauty in the horrors that he describes. I would recommend reading Dulce Et Decorum Est, a poem about a gas attack.

Your own poems

There's nothing cooler than your own poems, that you've poured your blood, sweat and tears into. They're cool because they're part of you, drawn from your own life and experiences. You can write in whatever form you want, pick your own meter, make your own decision to bend the rules and have fun with your creation. You might choose to write about a subject close to your heart and that's cool too. If you can call yourself a poet then you've joined an elite club.

These are just five things that I believe are cool about poetry but there are countless more. Just wait until you hear about Lord Byron! What do you think makes poetry cool?

This article was written in response to the Hubpages question,5 Types of Poetry That Aren't Super Lame. All images are the authors own.


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