10 Types of Poetry You Might Not Have Heard Of

July 22, 2022

Cup and saucer placed on top of a map. Photo by Filippo Peisino on Pexels.com.

Hey folks!

I’ve been a little quiet on here lately – it’s been a busy couple of weeks! And creativity has been a little lacking. It happens! But I got inspired to look into different types of poetry, and it helped spark some post ideas.

Here in Canada, I grew up hearing and learning about certain types of poems – the sonnet, the haiku, the limerick, free verse, and so on. But, as my search reminded me, what we’re taught is just a fraction of the poetry styles out there. And given the Western perspective – and in my case, the even more limited North American perspective – many cultures are left out of that learning. So with that in mind, I wanted to introduce you to ten styles you might be unfamiliar with.

Ae Freislighe (Ireland)

These are poems made of four lines (quatrains) with an ABAB rhyme scheme and seven syllables per line. Within the rhyme scheme itself are certain, specific rules. The A rhymes must be three-syllable words (such as canary and cavalry) and the B rhymes must be two-syllable words (such as apple and dapple). It can be as many stanzas as you want (which would then bring in CDCD, EFEF, etc. rhymes), but the last syllable of the poem must match the first. (So if you used “canary” for the first line’s rhyme, the last word of the poem could be “cherry” – two syllables to meet the requirement for the fourth line in a stanza, and the syllable “ry” to match “canary.”)

Source: Writer’s Digest

Daina (Latvia)

Another quatrain form, but in this case, they simply talk about life and its little moments. Since it doesn’t have a widespread appreciation like other, similar styles, the daina is closely tied to Latvian identity and culture. Most follow a trochaic metre (stressed then unstressed), with lines made up of four feet total containing a pause in the middle and at the end.

Sources: Wikipedia and The Yellow Sparrow

Dansa (Occitan)

I don’t often get the urge to try to write my own poetry, but there’s something about this style that has me wanting to try. The dansa is made up of as many stanzas as you want, as long as there are at least two. The first stanza is a quintain, or five lines, following ABBAA. Subsequent stanzas are quatrains, BBAA. The first line of the first stanza is always the last line of each stanza, including the first one. Anything else about the form is totally up to the poet! (However, it’s common for the lines to have six syllables each.)

Sources: Poets Collective and Writer’s Digest

Found Sonnets (Singapore)

Here’s a great style to try out if you’re experiencing writer’s block. Grab any sort of written content, maybe a favourite book or today’s newsletter from your site of choice, and pick out every seventh word until you have fourteen (note that the first word you pick doesn’t have to be the first of the text). Then write the fourteen lines of your sonnet (this particular style doesn’t have to rhyme or use a rhythm, though you can use one if you want) using each of those fourteen words, in the order that you found them. Make sure to note what the base text is and what words were taken from it for readers to see!

Sources: Forms of Sea and Poetry Teatime

Ghazal (Arabic)

This traditional Arabic poetry style speaks to love, and any pain, sadness, etc., derived from that love. The most traditional of ghazals follow strict rules, and technically aren’t considered true ghazals unless all are adhered to. However, some of the rules have been relaxed in recent years. Still, make sure to take a look at the rules if you go to write one, though, so you know what you should still adhere to and what you’re veering away from.

In the basest of terms, a ghazal is made of self-contained couplets (between five and fifteen) joined by a theme, and follows a pattern of AA BA CA DA EA and so on, with “A” traditionally remaining the same word throughout. Finally, the last couplet features the poet’s name or pen name.

Sources: Wikipedia

Kōel (Southeast Asia and the Pacific)

A poem made of tercets (three-lined stanzas) in which the first and last lines use assonance and the middle uses alliteration. This style mimics birdsong, indicative of the actual name of the style (the kōel is a species of cuckoo). In each stanza, the first and the third lines rhyme, while the second doesn’t have to rhyme with any other line in the poem.

Sources: Poetry Magnum Opus and Poetry Teatime

Lục Bát (Vietnam)

The name means “six-eight,” which refers to the syllabic structure of the poem. Each line alternates between six and eight syllables and follows a specific rhyme scheme. The sixth syllable of the first line, i.e. the last syllable, rhymes with the sixth syllable of the next line. The eighth syllable of the second line rhymes with the sixth syllable of the next line. And that pattern continues throughout the poem, for as many lines as you want to write. For example (note “-” stands in for non-rhyming syllables, and the other letters indicate the rhymes):

– – – – – a
– – – – – a – b
– – – – – b
– – – – – b – c
– – – – – c
– – – – – c – d

However, the last line always ends by rhyming with the first line. So if the “d” line in the example were actually the last of the poem, it would be “a” instead.

Sources: Poets Collective and The Yellow Sparrow

Pantun (Indonesia)

This style is sort of like a question-answer poem. There are four equal lines creating an ABAB rhyme scheme, with the first two lines asking a question, posing a riddle, stating a proverb, etc. (called the “shadow”); the last two lines are a direct response and explanation to the first two (the “meaning”). Note that it can be written with one stanza or multiple, and the number of lines can be changed up, each variation with its own rules for rhymes and stanzas.

Sources: Forms of Sea, Poets Collective, and Poetry Teatime

Prathya Vat (Cambodia)

A short stanza style, made of four lines that follow an ABBC scheme. When more stanzas are brought in, the last line of the previous stanza rhymes with the middle of the current (i.e. ABBC DCCE). These poems are meant to be read aloud.

Source: The Yellow Sparrow

Yadu (Myanmar)

The word yadu means “the seasons;” therefore, each yadu references one or more seasons. In this style, the rhyme, called a “climbing rhyme,” moves closer to the start of the line with each subsequent one. It’s a little difficult to describe, so here’s a visual:

– – – a
– – a –
– a – b
– – b c
– – – – c

Note how the first four lines have four syllables, while the fifth has more. It can be five, seven, nine, or eleven, depending on what you need. The poem can be one, two, or three stanzas. For a great example, check out Poet’s Collective.

Sources: Poets Collective and Poetry Teatime

Any of these catch your eye? Any styles I didn’t cover that you want people to know about? Let me know in the comments!

Published by Kaila Desjardins

Freelance editor, fiction writer, proud nerd.

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