rules for poetry styles

To keep the posts short and sweet i will share the rules of the poetry forms i am using in this blog.




Rules: I will request you to explore the rules of ballad yourself. I read quite a handful of them and thought that its quite a liberal style of poem with varying size of stanzas and other things. Go ahead and explore them. I have zeroed on two things- telling a story, using four line stanza with rhyming 2nd+4th line.



Cinqku is a 5 line haiku attributed to American poet Denis Garrison found at Poetry Bridge. It particularly explores the use of the line break and retains the maximum syllable count of the haiku. (Note: the haiku is a small poem of 17 syllables or less, the Cinqku is more restrictive with a strict syllable count of 17.) The Cinqku should have a turn or surprise in L4 and L5.

The Cinqku is:
1. a pentastich, a poem in 5 lines.
2. syllabic. A strict syllable count of 2-3-4-6-2 syllables per line.
3. composed with a turn or surprise in L4 or L5.
4. untitled.



Dixdeux, French for ten-two, is illustrated by Anthony Fusco in Caulkins’ Handbook on Haiku and Other Form Poems, 1970 . . . It appears to have developed as an alternative to the Haiku.

The Dixdeux is:
1. written in any number of tercets. When written in more than one tercet, L3 becomes a
2. syllabic, with 10-10-2 syllables per line.
3. is unrhymed.
4. titled, unlike the haiku.




The form like the Japanese Tanka is five lines long. There are no restrictive syllable counts though lines are supposed to be short and concise and end where the voice naturally breaks. Also other restrictions such as needing to use season words are absent from gogyohka. It is also okay to talk about feelings and other such human matters. Other than five short lines the only other requirement is to use sharp concise images.



It is described as a mixture of haiku and prose. do research in internet to understand and write this style. i follow what i could grasp from the haibuns i have read.



Haikus are mostly nature based three lined poems. The number of syllables per line is 5-7-5. For details check out internet there are marvelous blogs that explain this style perfectly.



three lined poems, no rules but this: one word in first line, two words in second line, three words in third line or you can write it in opposite style- 3-2-1 words per line.



1. The form is a single quatrain.

2. The rhyme scheme is a,b,a,b. This does not need to be perfect rhyme.

3. It has a fixed rhythm that it is recited to and as a result the line lengths are fixed between 8 and 12 syllables.

4. Often there is a seeming discontinuity between the first two lines and the second two lines. However on closer examination there is a linkage either in thought or the assonance of the verses.

5. There is usually a lot of allusion to either symbols, proverbs or places that would mean alot to Malay readers.



The rondeau is a form of verse also used in English language poetry. It makes use of refrains, repeated according to a certain stylized pattern. It was customarily regarded as a challenge to arrange for these refrains to contribute to the meaning of the poem in as succinct and poignant a manner as possible. The rondeau consists of thirteen lines of eight syllables, plus two refrains (which are half lines, each of four syllables), employing, altogether, only three rhymes. It has three stanzas and its rhyme scheme is as follows: (1) A A B B A (2) A A B with refrain: C (3) A A B B A with concluding refrain C. The refrain must be identical with the beginning of the first line.



The syllable count and writing style is exactly like haiku but these poems target human follies, dark side of human nature.




1. Think of one or two simple images from a moment you have experienced and describe them in concrete terms — what you have seen, tasted, touched, smelled, or heard. Write the description in two or three lines.


I will thank Becca ( and Gayle ( for teaching me these styles.

It lets me use my paintings and inspires me to paint some more. Love you my sweet friends.


43 thoughts on “rules for poetry styles

  1. Nice one…! I will also learn these styles some day and I liked this lovely blog.
    I found less of Indians with poetry on WordPress but when I found your blog,I felt a hearty pleasure. I have also my poetry blog,wish that you will visit it at

    So meet you there..!
    Nikhil Jain ( Li’l Poet NJ )

  2. I’m glad these poems are here, I like seeing people generate creative work on their blogs, (especially with rules–forces them to be more creative!) its something I haven’t a lot of on WordPress.

  3. I’ve written a few ruled/form poems, and it is challenging and fun, but mostly I’ve found that when I try to…squish the words like that, they tend to slip out the edges and get away. So I just write, and see where -they- want to go, and usually they line up all on their own. πŸ˜‰


    (Oh, and thanks for liking Concrete Jungle. I love Kipling, especially The Jungle Book, and I thought it would be fun to sort of…update it. πŸ˜‰ )

    • i too prefer formless poetry when i am seriously writing, formed poetry are for fun. its too tough to rhyme/count and add passion and dream. thats why every time i read a shakespeare sonnet i salute πŸ™‚

      • Oh my goddess, you are so right. Shakespeare in general. His wordplay is -astounding-…and hilarious sometimes. :p I read Taming of the Shrew at six-ish. Didn’t understand it all till 12, but I loved it even then. I knew that they were calling each other names, but the depth of it escaped me. πŸ˜‰

        And then there’s Kipling. His work is almost always set to a marching beat, and I really admire his talent for imagery and discipline at the same time. “Boots” makes me giggle every time, because it puts me -right- into those poor soldiers heads…but I don’t have to actually be there. πŸ˜‰


      • i have read both of them in easy english.. i dont think i would have been able to grasp shakespeare in his original english. i recently watched mid summer night’s dream by BBC- it is amazing!


  5. I prefer poetry with rules, although 99% of the poetry I’ve written in my life follows no rules, which is like most people, and why I regard 98% of my poetry as garbage. I’m just recently flirting with writing again for the first time in a decade, so I may tinker with some of these types of poems, most of which are new to me. Thanks!

    wordpress sayeth is no longer available.

    • -gasping in horror- You think because your poetry doesn’t follow rules 98% of them are garbage? DMRRCK, rules aren’t what make poetry great. If rules help you, then by all means, use them, but don’t discount the worth of your writing because of rules. History has shown that knowing the rules and then selectively, thoughtfully breaking them is what can bring about positive innovation and change. And it’s not always about how an editor or academic might assess your work. Just keep writing, rules or no rules!

      • Who made the rules? Writers who played with words and form and analysts who worked out what they had done and wrote down a code so we could follow it. We all have our own reasons for seeing the world as we do; if rules, or codes, fascinate us, that’s jolly. Writing is fun – sometimes a piece of writing strikes a chord with other people, sometimes it doesn’t. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t get read; no, the worst that can happen is people don’t write. Writers, write with all your hearts x

      • Actually, I agree with you, but many people don’t bother learning how to write within the rules before they willy nilly start flaying words all over the place, and because it’s only partially comprehensible, it’s somehow mysteriously meaningful. Throw the rampant lack of editing onto the internet writing pyre, and it’s often not pretty, in my opinion. I am an avid believer in editing as a critical component to good writing.

        Don’t take what I write too seriously either. I have a compulsive need to make fun of myself. It’s probably 95% of my poetry is crap, and that’s because it’s crap, rules or not.

      • “…many people don’t bother learning how to write within the rules before they willy nilly start flaying words all over the place” Absolutely agreed!

        “… I have a compulsive need to make fun of myself.” I do it all the time. If you take yourself too seriously, you’ll end up miserable! LOL!

      • @JDR – If there is no critical element to writing than it becomes lost, or at least severely diluted, as an art form. Writing can be many different things, just as film or painting or dance or song. I can shake my rump on the dance floor for fun, but my booty-bumping fun has little to do with ballet. Writing is the same way. Anyone can type out a bunch of words, but does that mean it should be publicly consumed? No. Not anymore than I should showcase my dancing on a stage, even if I don’t charge any money for people to watch me make a fool of myself.

        In poetry particularly, rules force discipline onto a writer, and in many cases, generate more creative, clever, succinct, and poignant writing because the writer must consider what s/he is really trying to say, and be more considerate to the meaning and weight of particular words. By doing so, new relationships between words create expressions that allow an audience to interpret, experience, ingest, relate, or escape.

        I’m not trying to discourage people from writing, but I do encourage people to work at it as a craft or an art, not just the equivalent of finger painting. Also, we should feel just as comfortable to express and accept criticism, as we do praise. An honest critique (which is different than an ignorant slam) is actually a form of praise by saying, “your writing is good enough for me to care about it.” I’ve learned more from criticism than I ever did from banal praise such as, “it’s good,” or “I like it.” “It’s good” is just the flip side of “it sucks.” Both are meaningless statements if there’s no follow-up reasoning.

        When I make the comment that 95% of my poetry is crap, it’s because I needed to generate that much content in practice, in order to create that 5% body of work that I think is pretty good, gosh darn it. Yes, we are talking ’bout practice.

    • ” Anyone can type out a bunch of words, but does that mean it should be publicly consumed?”

      As our culture demonstrates, ANYTHING can be publicly consumed. Just turn on the television. Some of what’s on is garbage. Some is okay. Just yesterday I was shaking my head that the inventor of a new towel wrap (that you can kind of wear) is making money from big towels with holes.

      Regarding writing, I think it comes down to what you are trying to achieve. Who is your real audience? Whom do you WANT your audience to be? What do you want to do with your writing, ultimately?

      In writers’ workshops, we talk about about audience and intention. As I type this, I am inclined to say that intention is maybe more important than audience (but it could be just the mood I’m in). The first thing I would say to any aspiring writer is, don’t write with the intention of becoming rich. In fact, don’t write with the intention of even making a living off it because you probably won’t. It has nothing to do with talent. It has to do with market value, which is another topic all together. If you care at all about how your work is perceived, think first about intention. WHY are you writing? Are you just having fun? Are you merely enjoying the self expression? Are you working on honing an art? Are you aiming to be published? There’s nothing wrong with finger painting if that’s what you want to do. However, realize it’s hard to sell finger painting–unless you get it put on a magnet or a t-shirt and someone picks up the idea and says, “Wow! Simple but innovative!” just like the towels with holes.

      Ironically, if your intention is to create “real art” (whatever that is) and sell it, you’ll probably have an even harder time than marketing the finger painting. Ever hear the expression that poets only write for other poets? There’s a reason for that. People are afraid of poetry, and in some cases, where academia has insisted we follow in the footsteps of T.S. Elliot and his esoteric allusions and the insistence there is a hidden meaning and one or two correct interpretations, readers have good reason to fear it because this kind of poetry is only accessible to the highly educated and it makes the rest of the world feel stupid. I’ve studied and read a lot of poetry, and I can tell you, I’ve blown past a lot of it because it seems vague or disconnected somehow. In short, “I don’t get it.” And like most people, I don’t like to feel stupid. I’m not saying this kind of poetry doesn’t warrant a second look or has no value at all. What I am saying is that if your intent is to be artsy-fartsy (excuse the term), you are going to turn off a lot of people. But that’s your right.

      Now, if your intent is to appeal to the general public, you might be able to pull off working for Hallmark. Well, that’s more money than I’m making, so all the power to you.

      This all comes back to audience. Who is reading your work and whom do you WANT to read your work?

      In prose, I’ve gone from academic to pulp. In poetry, I’ve tried writing for publication and writing just for myself. My style (my intent) has always been to produce an accessible, relevant, thoughtful piece, somewhere between T.S. Elliot and Dr. Seuss. I don’t want readers stressing out, trying to find a hidden message. I want to get them at least interested and derive SOME meaning from it.

      On the other hand, I don’t think everything I write is a piece of honed artwork. Some of it is just an expression of what I am feeling at the time, and I know editors will toss it into the recycling bin. But they often throw my honed stuff into that same bin. Because of this, I no longer intentionally write for editors, nor do I market much. Marketing is a waste of my time at this point in my life. I do it about once or twice a year just to keep a presence, but other than that, I’m writing for enjoyment and to process and synthesize my thoughts poetically. I love metaphor (everything is a metaphor) and persona in particular. I learn a lot about myself through my own writing. But I try not to take myself too seriously (as I mentioned somewhere else). This is difficult when I am processing dark pieces of my personality, but even those become larger metaphors, something bigger than me, which is what I like. It’s too easy and too depressing to get stuck in your own head. Looking at my own work and life in comparison to the entire world helps keep me from killing myself. I am quite serious about this.

      Anyway, my point is, examine your intentions and your audience. No matter what you find, just keep writing. Writing is never a wasted exercise.

      Sorry to hog this post. πŸ™‚

      • Oh, and by the way, I can’t spell (T.S. Eliot), nor can I recall names or titles. People who spout off things like this tend to make me feel stupid, which is natural. There are some people who allude to poetry just to be impressive (particularly annoying elitists) and some who do it because they are geniuses (like a man in my writers’ group who is just incredibly gifted and I am jealous). Again…intention.

      • I like the cut of your jib, Katherine. πŸ™‚ I have had similar experiences and observations, and I agree with what you wrote. I’ve just had a long day, and another long one tomorrow, and I’m too tired to respond with something interesting.

        So you know, I used to write a great deal, but about ten years ago I drifted away from it, feeling that I didn’t have much to say, and that I couldn’t be honest with myself enough to write well. I was also way too drunk to write. Recently, I’ve been gravitating back to it, thinking about it, discussing it, and even simply reading again. The blog is testing the scribe waters with my toe. I expect to do more.

        Cheers, and good night.

      • Well said Katherine, and thank you, Sharmishtha for starting the conversation on your blog of beautiful images in words and colours. It seems there is real interest in poetry amongst the readers and writers of blogs, and we can help to promote that, each in our own way x

  6. i will agree with all of you julia, dm and catherine- i am not much of a rule abiding person either, after all, its people who made them, and its people who modify them, upgrade them, why cant we be them?

    your blog is saying that it doesnot exists

  7. nice to know about the various form… As I write for writing, and whatever comes in my heart is expressed.

    This one will really help me in my future blogs.. Thanks for sharing…


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