In-FORM-ation – My List of Poetry Forms

Forms G – K


A Ghazal is a collection of two-line poems or couplets which follow six rules.

First – Each verse or couplet should be readable as an independent poem, which do not have to rely on the other verses, though the full ghazal has a theme – traditionally romantic or spiritual love and longing.

Second – Each line of the couplets must have the same meter. All the lines in one ghazal must have the same meter.

Third – All of the couplet verses must end with the same refrain, which could be a word or a phrase.

Fourth – The words before the refrain phrase must rhyme.

Fifth – The beginning couplet must repeat the refrain word or phrase in both lines.

Sixth – The final couplet must reference the poet’s name, or alias and sometimes a derivation of the meaning of the poet’s name. This was a traditional way for the poet to sign, or to affix his or her mark upon the work.

Example: All Of Love

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Glosa (Classic)

The Glosa is a Spanish form, introduced during the Renaissance period (late 14th/early 15th century) by the Spanish Court Poets.

In its strictest form, the Glosa is a poem consisting of a line or a short stanza, called a cabeza (also known by others as mote, letra, or texto), followed by a ten-line stanza for each line of the cabeza, explaining or “glossing” that line and incorporating it as the final line of the explanatory stanza as a refrain. The cabeza is written by another poet or author; it must be credited to that person, and must be written as is – you cannot change the wording of the source cabeza.

Traditionally the cabeza is a quatrain, but it can be any length, just remember each line of the cabeza must become a ten-line stanza. The last line of each of these stanzas is a line, taken in order, of the original cabeza. Only the sixth and ninth lines of each of the ten-line stanzas are required to rhyme with the “borrowed” tenth line.

So, the form runs as thus:

Quatrain from another author:
Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 4

Ten-line stanza written by you, with a rhyme of A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/F/Line 1.  You are only required to rhyme lines 6, 9 & 10 where the 10th line in the stanza is one from the originating cabeza. Each subsequent ten-line stanza uses the same rhyme scheme as the preceding stanza ending in the next line of the cabeza. The last line of the glosa is the last line of the source cabeza.

The glosa can praise the source poet, expand on an idea or theme of the original poem or take the source lines in a completely different direction altogether.

A Modified Glosa must have a source cabeza. You must use each line of the cabeza to create the following stanzas. Stanza can be any line length, but should be uniform in rhyme, if any, and length.

Traditional Examples: Missing YouMy Sin

Modified Examples: The Spirit Believes, Memories On My Mind

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The Golden Shovel form was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks.
The rules are simple:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
  • If you take a single line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you take two lines and the first line has 19 words, and the next has 13 words your poem would be 32 lines long in total and so on…
  • Keep the end words in order of the original poem.
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).

Example: Self

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Haibun is a combination of prose strong in imagery and at least one haiku (5,7,5 syllables). The prose in a haibun is trimmed to its essence just as a haiku is composed of few words chosen for their particular meaning. A haibun relates a journey, whether the travels are a physical exploration of the world or an internal journey of discovery. Often haibun contain a revelation or epiphany obtained through experience. The prose can reflect fragmented thoughts or complete sentences, but the sentences are tight with all the words serving a purpose.

Example: The Summons

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The Hex Sonnetta, created by Andrea Dietrich, consists of two six-line stanzas and a finishing rhyming couplet with the following set of rules:

Meter: Iambic Trimeter
Rhyme Scheme: a/bb/aa/b c/dd/cc/d ee

Example: Sedusa Medusa

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3 thoughts on “In-FORM-ation – My List of Poetry Forms

  1. I was just reading something else when I noticed this link and had to come and investigate. I have made an attempt or two at Lukes Octains, but thats it from this list. Now I guess I am just going to have to try some of the others out, just to satisfy my own curiosity.

So? What do you think?

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