In-FORM-ation – My List of Poetry Forms

Forms K – O


The Karousel, a form invented by David James, is a twenty line poem, four stanzas of five lines each.

• The rhyme pattern is the following: abcda ecdbe fdbcf gbcdg.
• The three inner lines (bcd) rotate in each stanza until they circle back to their original bcd form from stanza one.
• Though each stanza is enclosed in a rhyme, there are no metrical restrictions.

Example: Like Jazz On A Snowy Eve

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Lune is French for the word moon. The crescent moon and the gibbous moon – these are the forms that lend themselves to what has been called the American haiku, the modern poetic structure also known as the lune. It is a 13-syllable poem written in 3 lines containing 5-3-5 (crescent-shaped) syllables or 3-5-3 (waxing gibbous shape) words respectively. The 5-3-5 syllable version has is also called the Kelly lune; and the 3-5-3 word version is also called the Collom lune. The Lune is not restricted by Japanese haiku traditions. Any subject, any amount of three-line verses, any thought, is fair game.

Example: The Wind Grows Colder

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Kouta – KOH-OU-TA (Japanese: little song) A broad classification for several varieties of short songs from traditional to popular which is most often associated with the songs made popular in the pleasure quarters of Edo (old Tokyo) where they were often composed and sung by geisha to the accompaniment of the shamisen.

Kouta has two forms, both four lines. The first has a syllable count of 7-5-7-5, and the other has a count of 7-7-7-5.

Example: Start Somewhere

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The French Kyrielle is composed entirely of quatrains (a quatrain is any stanza with four lines). There is no set number of stanzas, although generally a kyrielle contains three or more. The rhyme scheme is up to the poet (aabb ccbb ddbb etc. is frequently used), but it must be the same for all stanzas. Also, the last line of all stanzas is the same. Kyrielles generally have eight syllables per line, although this is not a requirement.

Other rhyme schemes for the quatrain could be abaB, cbcB, dbdB, etc… or abbA, accA, addA, etc.. As long as the each quatrain uses the same rhyme scheme, the choice is yours.

Example: A Writer Who Can’t Find the Words


A Kyrielle Sonnet consists of 14 lines (three rhyming quatrain stanzas and a non-rhyming couplet). Just like the traditional Kyrielle poem, the Kyrielle Sonnet also has a repeating line or phrase as a refrain, usually but not always appearing as the last line of each stanza. Each line within the Kyrielle Sonnet consists of only eight syllables. French poetry forms have a tendency to link back to the beginning of the poem, so common practice is to use the first and last line of the first quatrain as the ending couplet. This would also re-enforce the refrain within the poem. Therefore, a good rhyming scheme for a Kyrielle Sonnet would be:

AabB, ccbB, ddbB, AB -or- AbaB, cbcB, dbdB, AB.

Example: Deckard’s Lament

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LENTO (single/double/triple)

A Lento consists of two quatrains with a fixed rhyme scheme of abcb, defe as the second and forth lines of each stanza must rhyme. To take it a step further, but not required, try rhyming the first and third lines as well as the second and forth lines of each stanza in this rhyming pattern: abab, cdcd. The fun part of this poem is thrown in here as all the FIRST words of each verse should rhyme. There is no fixed syllable structure to the Lento, but keeping a good, flowing rhythm is recommended.

For an added challenge, one may write a four-verse Lento and call it a Double Lento, or a six-versed Lento to become a Triple Lento.

Example: Each Day Anew…

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The Monchielle is a poem that consists of four five-line stanzas where the first line repeats in each verse. Each line within the stanzas consist of six syllables, and lines three and five rhyme.

The rhyme pattern is Abcdc Aefgf Ahiji Aklml.

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The monotetra is a poetic form developed by Michael Walker.  The form must be written in tetrameter, either iambic or trochaic, approximately 8 syllables per line.  Each stanza is a quatrain (four lines), that is monorhymed. The fourth line of each stanza must be a dimeter, or 4-syllable phrase, that is repeat twice.

The stanza structure:

Line 1: 8 syllables; A1
Line 2: 8 syllables; A2
Line 3: 8 syllables; A3
Line 4: 4 syllables, repeated; A4, A4

Example: The Sacred Dead

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MONOTETRAIYAT (Interlocking)

The Monotetraiyat, a nonce form, is a combination of the Monotetra and Rubaiyat (Interlocking) forms. Each stanza is a four line stanza, 8 syllables per line; lines 1, 2 and 4 rhyme. Line three sets the rhyme for the next stanza. The subsequent stanzas rhyme its 1st, 2nd, and 4th lines with the sound at the end of the 3rd line in the previous stanza before it. Also note that the forth line is a double rhyme/or repeated refrain. The stanza count is unlimited, but ideally the third line of the last stanza should wrap around to the 1st, 2nd, and 4th line rhymes of the first stanza.

It should look like this:

Rhyme scheme:



and so on until the last stanza


Example: Mountainous Words

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The Naani is one of the Indian popular Telugu poems. Naani means an expression of one and all. This very short form consists of 4 lines with the lines totaling 20 to 25 syllables. The poem is not bounded to a particular subject. Generally it depends upon human relations and current statements.

Example: Weapon of Choice

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A “Not Poem” is a poem in which the subject is described by telling the reader everything the subject is not. Though to always, not poems usually tend to use wild exaggerations and adjectives to describe fully what the subject is “not,” thereby giving the reader a sense of what it “is.”

Example: Too Many

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This is a nonce form created by Robin Skelton. The Novem consists of three line stanzas, with three words in each line. Only one word per line has two syllables, the remaining words are one syllable. Further, the two-syllable word is placed as follows:

It is the third word in the first line, the second word second line, the first word third line.

Consonance is part of this form too, there needs to be a repeated consonance sound four or five times per stanza.

Example: By Friendly Hand

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The Nove Otto poetry form  is a nine-lined poem with 8 syllables per line (isosyllabic). The rhyme scheme is as follows: aabccbddb

Example: Year or Loving Dangerously

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Created by Luke Porter, an octain has eight lines as two tercets (three-line stanzas) and a couplet (two-line stanza). There are eight syllables per line with the first line repeated (as much as possible) as the last. Meter is iambic or trochaic tetrameter, but fine to just count eight syllables per line for those who prefer that.

Rhyme scheme:
(A = repeated refrain line. ‘c/c’ refers to line five having a midline (internal) rhyme, which is different to the a- and b-rhymes)

Example: Leathers In The Night

The High Octain is simply a double Octain, but as one poem – the refrains are the same, the a- and b- rhymes are the same, but actual words are different, and the c/c line with the internal rhyme can optionally be rhymed in the second instance. There is no restriction on the level of repetition, but in most cases the stipulated refrain A is enough; this may even feel too repetitive and need varying. As a general guideline, changing up to four syllables of the eight still retains enough to feel like the refrain. The end word must remain the same.

The structure of the High Octain is one single after another with a break in between; alternatively, it can be written as two blocks of eight lines:

A-b-b-a-c/c-a-b-A [or d/d instead of c/c]

Example: Ivory and Coloured Glass

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An Oddquain is a short, usually unrhymed poem consisting of seventeen syllables distributed 1, 3, 5, 7, 1 in five lines.

Oddquain variations:

oddquain sequences – poems made up of oddquain stanzas

crown oddquains – a five stanza oddquain sequence

reverse oddquains – an oddquain with a reverse syllable pattern of 1-7-5-3-1

mirror oddquains – a two stanza oddquain sequence of the pattern 1-3-5-7-1 1-7-5-3-1

oddquain butterflies – a “merged mirror oddquain” where the two stanzas of a mirror oddquain are merged together, one of the middle 1 syllable lines is dropped, resulting in one nine line stanza of the form 1-3-5-7-1-7-5-3-1. Please note that an oddquain butterfly is not a “oddquain” because it doesn’t have five lines, but it is “butterfly” made up of two oddquains that were merged together into one poem.

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The Oviellejo is an Old Spanish verse form (derived from ovillo, a ball of yarn). A stanza consists of 10 lines, with a rhyme scheme of AABBCCCDDC. The second line of each rhyme scheme, Line 2,4,6, is short line of up to 5 syllables. The last line is a “redondilla,” a “little round” that collects all three of the short lines.

Example: We All Still Know

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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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