Poetry Types. Know Them - To Win Them!

These are the common poetry types you will find in poetry contests. Understand the requirement prior to writing so your writing will be considered.



This type of poetry has grown in popularity due to the easyness of understanding. What is often surprising is how difficult it can be to write a meaningfull poem with just three lines. A 5-7-5 has three lines. The first line has 5 syllables. The second line has 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables again. When writing this poem there is no need to rhyme (although you can).

Free Verse

A Free Verse Poem does not follow any rules! So you decide how you want to write it. The rhymes, syllable count and even punctuation is up to the author.


This poetry format was developed in Asia. It is normally about nature. Generally this poem follows the 5-7-5 format (see above) but it is not a strict requirement.


This is a five-line poem that has a distinctive rhythm. The first, second and fifth lines, the longer lines, rhyme. The third and fourth shorter lines rhyme. (A-A-B-B-A).


A lune has 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line and 5 syllable in the final line. Rhymes are fine but not required. The subject of a lune is open.


This poetry type is often used to tell a story. A narrative poem tells the story of an event in the form of a poem. There is a strong sense of narration, characters, and plot.


A poem that rhymes and has 14 lines. This poetry type was made popular by Shakespeare but he did not invent this form. It was invented years before he started writing. Sonnets use iambic meter in each line and use line-ending rhymes.


A tanka is a five line poem. The syllable count is generally (5, 7, 5, 7, 7). So you are looking for 20-22 syllables and a short-long-short-long-long structure (5 syllables for the first line, 7 for the second, and so on) or even just a free form structure using five lines. The origin of this poetry type is from Japan.