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Poetry is a broad area of literature offering teachers and students the opportunity to both dip their toe or completely dive into creative writing.

With over fifty acknowledged styles of poetry there is plenty on offer to students of all ages and ability.  We are going to look at eight different styles of poetry and strategies for teaching it in the classroom.  These styles of poetry are most commonly taught in elementary / primary classrooms.

This content has been kindly provided from the Poetry Power Pack by Innovative Teaching Ideas.  This pack includes nineteen styles of poetry, printable, templates, lesson plans and multimedia to share on your digital classroom display.  You can find out more here.

Basic Poetry key terms

  • Cadence - The patterning of rhythm in natural speech, or in poetry without a distinct meter.
  • Meter - The rhythmical pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in verse.
  • Refrain - A phrase or line repeated at intervals within a poem, especially at the end of a stanza.
  • Rhyme - The repetition of syllables, typically at the end of a verse line. Rhymed words conventionally share all sounds following the word’s last stressed syllable.
  • Stanza - a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse
  • Tone - The poet’s attitude toward the poem’s speaker, reader, and subject matter, as interpreted by the reader.
  • writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme
  • Verse - writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme

Acrostic Poetry

Acrostic poetry is considered on of the simpler forms of poetry and is commonly taught to younger students.  Acrostic poems are generally quick and easy to write and open students minds to the understanding that poetry is a non conventional style of writing which doesn't always have to make perfect sense.  

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Epitaph

In it's original form an epitaph are the defining words written on a tombstone that future generations will know us by.  The limited space and complexity of chiseling a stone tablet did not allow for complexity so short, sweet and direct to the point was the order of the day.  

Today true epitaph's are rarely seen, and in a poetic sense have become an opportunity to have a bit of fun reflecting on the misfortune or good humor of others.  

Epitaph's are very easy for younger writers to pick up due to the simplicity of the rhyming pattern, length and above all else they are fun to write.

If you are looking for a starting point for rhyming poetry Epitaph's are a great option.

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The Clerihew

The Clerihew is a very similar style of poetry to the epitaph.  It uses the exact same rhyming pattern and length as an epitaph but is more of a mock piece targeted at famous people.

Both the Epitaph and Clerihew style of poetry can be introduced in the same session to reinforce rhyming poetry and writing for a specific purpose and audience.

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Irish Limerick

A limerick is another fun type of poetry continuing concepts learnt from epitaphs' which steps it up slightly in complexity due to a different rhyming pattern and increased length.  

When teaching limerick's be sure to emphasize the concept of fun and humor which is the essence of writing a limerick in the classroom.  Your students will both love writing and reading these aloud for this reason.

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Shakespearean Sonnet

A poem containing both emotion and rhyme is considered a lyric and as such has strong connections to drama and music.  The great William Shakespeare's preferred style of poetry was the sonnet and he would frequently include them into nearly all of his plays to convey a greater sense of emotion.

The Shakespearean Sonnet is a strict 14 line model as demonstrated below and should be aimed at older and more accomplished writers who already have a sense of rhyming poetry and emotive language.

Shape or Concrete Poetry

These styles of poetry rely on a strong relationship between visuals and words.  There is no preferred style or guidelines for shape and concrete poetry so long as the audience can clearly make the connection between the words and visuals.

You will know if you have succeeded at these forms of poetry if it is clearly understood without a title.  

Refer to the images below for further clarification.

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Quatrains

A Quatrain is an ancient french style of poetry with one hard rule.  It must be no more or less than four lines in length.

Most quatrains rhyme following one of the patterns as demonstrated below.

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The Palindrome

A palindrome is a phrase that can be read forwards and backwards with the same outcome.  "A man, a plan, a canal -- Panama," is a commonly used example.  Read it backwards for yourself...

A palindromic poem follows this concept in a structured model as demonstrated below.  The only word which is not repeated  is found on the fourth (or center) line.  This word provides the opportunity to reverse the words we have been presented in the first half.

Palindromes are easy to write once your students clearly understand the why and what they are expected to do.

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Shakespearean Sonnet

A poem containing both emotion and rhyme is considered a lyric and as such has strong connections to drama and music.  The great William Shakespeare's preferred style of poetry was the sonnet and he would frequently include them into nearly all of his plays to convey a greater sense of emotion.

The Shakespearean Sonnet is a strict 14 line model as demonstrated below and should be aimed at older and more accomplished writers who already have a sense of rhyming poetry and emotive language.

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