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  1. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    FORMS OF POETRY – A to E

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by K.S.A., Apr 9, 2011.

    I am pretty new to poetry – I have neither attempted to write it nor read a lot of it before – and, as such, am pretty confused as to where to begin. Poetry is a combination of meter, rhythm, intonation, rhyme, alliteration, form, assonance/consonance & diction. As separate entities, I understand these terms. Anyone who has studied the English language in detail would. However, how these terms apply in the context of poetry, I have absolutely no idea. So, I’m starting out with baby steps. I shall first tackle what I believe is the most important factor – FORM. I’ll list out the various forms I’ve come across during my research, & I hope this helps other new poets - or poets-in-the-making - understand this new form of expression.

    Acrostic – It is a verse composition wherein the initial alphabet, of each consecutive line taken together, forms words.

    Ballad – Verse that narrates a story basically. Most children’s poems are Ballads. They have something of a musicality to them.

    Blank Verse – This is essentially unrhymed verse, written in iambic pentameter (Could someone please explain this term with an example, so that the rest of us can follow? Thanks)

    Cento – A verse comprised of lines from other poems, put together to form an ironic juxtaposition of thoughts & voices. A bit like a patchwork quilt.

    Cinquain – A form of poetry that is inspired by Haiku. Usually based on concrete ideas rather than intangibles like emotion, this form uses the syllabic breakdown of 2 4 6 8 2

    Clerihew – It is a four line verse, of indeterminate meter & length that is a comical biography of someone famous. It is written in the rhyming structure of AABB.

    Dorsimbra – It is made up of three stanzas of 4 lines each, each stanza applying a different form. Enjambment is used to keep the flow of the piece without losing it to form changes.

    Double Dactyl – These are extremely difficult to formulate because of their rigidity. But the fact that they are humorous may help get past this obstacle. They are made up of 2 stanzas of 3 dactylic lines (one stressed two unstressed syllables) & one line made up of one dactyl & a single accent. (accent? Could anyone explain this please?) The last words of both stanzas need to rhyme.

    Epistle – Written like a letter, this form of verse takes into account the persona of the one writing it as well as the recipient, & is usually very personalized.

    If I have missed out any forms from A to E, please do list them out with a short description. Also, if you can think of examples for the same, or for any of the forms listed above, please feel free to share them. Try to include verses that use easy-to-follow language, so that newbies like myself may understand the form better. A big ‘Thank You’ to everyone in advance!
     
  2. Lorddread
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    Canzone: Literally "song" in Italian, a canzone (plural: canzoni) (cognate with English to chant) is an Italian or Provençal song or ballad. It is also used to describe a type of lyric which resembles a madrigal. Sometimes a composition which is simple and songlike is designated as a canzone, especially if it is by a non-Italian; a good example is the aria "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Copied from Wikipedia.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Admirable though this enterprise is, I don't think this is the right way to go about learning how to write or read poetry...it's useful to know, for instance, if you're reading a sonnet, or to learn to recognise iambic pentameter, but you don't need to know what a 'clerihew' or 'dorsimbra' is...

    Really, the only definite thing that sets poetry apart from prose is that the poet can control where the line ends. Literally anything except that is a feature of poetry, but doesn't define it. I've always found that to be a useful starting point for analysing poetry for the first time. Form is a major consideration, but you have it the wrong way around; form follows function, as the saying goes. Especially in a contemporary context, the form of the poem is defined by what is being conveyed, so a list of arbitrary forms is going to be of limited use, since free verse is the dominant form of contemporary poetry.

    The only way to learn to read poetry is to just do it...maybe if you post a poem from the public domain in the book discussion section, the forum could analyse it collectively and look at how it works and stuff...
     
  4. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    @arron Thank you for your input. I just thought this would be helpful for reference. Also, when I study anything, I do it in detail. This includes almost everything that is related to the subject matter. Just because blank verse is the pre-dominant form in use today, doesn't mean that most new writers would want to follow the trend, does it? We will all probably get around to it at some point but I think some exploration in a different path should be essential to learning about how to adopt control over your poetry. And I don't think there's anything worng in that, do you?
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My favourite form is the Bothy Ballad composed by farm labourers to comfort themselves in extreme conditions - they are a wonderful collection of humour, satire and story telling. However they are in Scots rather than English - in most cases full blown Doric.

    I think they also the forerunner of the Ceildh/Barn Dance.
     
  6. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    No chance of a translated snippet...? :-(
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My Scots/Doric is a bit patchy but most of it when you say it out loud is self explanatary like auld - and skweel. The flow of them is wonderful though.

    Fan I was only ten year auld, I left the pairish skweel.
    My faither he fee’d me tae the Mains tae chaw his milk an meal.
    I first pit on my narra breeks tae hap my spinnel trams,
    Syne buckled roon my knappin knees, a pair o Nicky Tams.


    When I was only ten years old. I left the Parish school.
    My father he (I think send me or fed me) to the Mains (name of farm) to get his milk and oatmeal
    I first put on my narrow trousers, - not sure what spinnel trams are lol I am guessing legs
    Soon buckled round my knocking knees, Nicky Tams were trousers that were worn by farm labourers and tied round their knees so they looked like aristocratic knickerbockers.

    Basically it is the boys first day sent to work/labour at the farm.
     
  8. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    fee'd - ferried maybe..?
    breeks - breeches

    That's adorable - not the 'being sent to work right after school part' but the innocence of it. No wonder they said children's rymes are usually in Ballad form. It's easier on the ears & so involving. Think I'm liking the Ballad form more and more :)
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    breeks - are still trousers in doric/scots lol

    fee'd is hired I looked it up - not all of them are charming some are heartbreaking but most are fun.

    spinnel trams - are skinny legs and hap is to cover.

    There are more verses but the translation takes the time and I want to write. Burns has a similar flow to him and finding him with translation is generally easier.

    There are several more verses. They were usually set to music - which is how you then got Ceildhs which might be the origin of the barn dance but not sure.
     
  10. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to echo what arron89 said and suggest that the place to start if you want to write some poetry is with free verse. That way you can experiment freely and see what works for you. Also, have you heard of this wonderful thing called wikipedia?

    What might be more useful than this for writers looking to get into poetry would be deconstructing some poems in the "book discussion" section. Maybe I'll start a thread up for poetry discussion there later today.
     
  11. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    That would be lovely. Or maybe starting us off with a line & then getting other members to add to it - showing us how some things would or wouldn't work?
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That could go under word games I guess.
     
  13. Sidewinder
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    I actually thought of that a while back. "The Poem That Never Ends" or something. Could be fun. Maybe I'll start that up too.
     
  14. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    Maybe not. After all, the whole point would be to get feedback on the lines we're posting. There is no room for that in 'Word Games', is there?
     
  15. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    Could either of you explain to me - in the simplest terms possible - what an iambic pentameter is?
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can't see it being any different to the format used in the Character Development Clinic Thread.

    OK very basic because I am not knowledgeable about poetry but Iambic Pentameter is a type of rhythm applied to certain types of poetry. Most simple form is da-dum or tick-tock. The words create the rhythm. Someone else can probably give a better explanation lol.
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Iambic = lub DUB

    Penta = 5

    Meter = rhythmic structure.

    So, lub DUB lub DUB lub DUB lub DUB lub DUB

    aka, Shall I compare the to a summer's day
     
  18. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Agreed, assuming you're including reading and listening to poetry as part of the 'do.'

    It's a tricky balancing act between naming terms and forms (not helpful) and having as your knowledge base the names of terms and forms so you can then guide and inform deeper discussions and analysis (very helpful). It's not helpful when you have to stop a class or discussion explaining for the 9th time what enjambment means, but 'that line is enjambment' doesn't really help either, as it's an 'okay, yeah, but to what effect?' moment.

    So, my general advice is to learn to terms so you can follow and guide discussions, but then also realize in learning the terms you haven't yet learned anything at all.
     
  19. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    D'accord. Which is why I'm learning to stand before I walk i.e. getting my foundation right before I attempt anything. And, I do understand what an enjambment is...Research is always good for something. :)
     
  20. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    Oh...@Elgaisma & @popsicledeath Thank you for breaking that down. I went through a couple of explanations before but they were using old english verse to demonstrate what the term meant, & I'm pretty slow were old verse is concerned.
     
  21. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    I started a poetry discussion thread in Book Discussion. We'll see how far it goes.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    see my list of links to the best poetry sites on the web up in the 'suggestions' section... hopefully, it will be made into a sticky and placed in several of the writing sections, so all who need poetry info can find/access it easily... my list of links can be found here:

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=40217&page=3

    i think that would be better than any of us posting our own ideas of what's what in the wide world of poetry...

    ksa... it's nice of you to offer this info, but i hope you know that if you got it from some source other than your own little grey cells, you can't legally or ethically post it as your own...
     
  23. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    I got the names from my old creative writing textbook. The descriptions are based on my understanding of those particular forms. What I didn't understand I got clarified. You don't think I would be silly enough to claim that I came up with these long-standing forms all on my own, do you? And I don't any of the members are particularly silly enough to think that either. But thank you for trying to be helpful.
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The forms are fine to use K.S.A they are mostly just names. I found your post interesting and enlightening thank you - the work you put into it was appreciated - some I did know, some I didn't. I fail to see how being able to name and recognise the various forms is such a blow for academic study or something that won't progress you.

    Whilst I don't write poetry and struggle with it - I love the history of it and this is great.
     
  25. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    I'm glad you found it useful...but I'm wondering now if I should put up any of the others I have stored. I put these up so that we could address poems in these forms & understand them better. But everyone seems to have gotten the idea that I'm merely listing out forms **sighs** I wish people would go through the whole post before jumping to conclusions **sniffs** So, I appreciate your enthusiasm very much...it's quite refreshing **gives you a watery smile** Oh, & you can call me Susan :)
     

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