Genre Basics: Poetry - article

The poetry genre is a form of literature that can be difficult to define. Traditionally, it can be described as text that uses rhythm and rhyme to evoke emotion and meaning; however, poetry often shakes traditional definitions.

So, what is poetry? Robert Frost said, "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." William Wordsworth defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." Rita Dove defines poetry as "language at its most distilled and most powerful." All of these definitions help to describe poetry, as well as the subgenre, form, and literary devices used in a poem.

Poems are categorized by subgenre and form. There are various subgenres within the poetry genre, including narrative, dramatic, epic, lyric, verse, and prose. The subgenre unifies poems based on their subject, style, theme, or quality. On the other hand, there are poetic forms, which describe the type of poem based on the poem's specific structure. There are more than fifty poetic forms, including sonnet, haiku, limerick, ottava rima, ode, blank verse, and free verse. Some forms follow strict rules, while others are more flexible.

"Poets employ literary devices to maximize the impact of their words, applying emphasis and a satisfying quality to the poem as a whole."

Poets employ literary devices to maximize the impact of their words, applying emphasis and a satisfying quality to the poem as a whole. The poet's tools include rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, meter, diction, and even the visual presentation of the words on the page. Using these tools, a poem is crafted carefully, each word carrying importance and purpose.

Poetry books are published in three main forms: chapbooks, collections, and anthologies. Chapbooks are shorter books of poetry, usually twenty to thirty pages or less. These short books or booklets are generally published by small presses or self-published by the author. Poetry collections are longer books by a single author, typically around sixty pages. Poetry anthologies are collected works from multiple authors, unified by theme or subject matter.

When you are ready to seek a publisher or self-publish in the poetry genre, it's important to set proper expectations. Most small and independent presses cannot afford to pay large advances. And poetry books traditionally don't sell as many copies as novels or nonfiction books. You'll be successful as a poet when you can find another way to define your success, rather than a monetary value.

You can find more resources for poets on the Author Learning Center, as well as poetry organizations such as the Poetry Foundation and Poets & Writers.  

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  • Sometimes, thoughts come to us fully clothed out of the open air

    Other times, we sense a thought is there,

    We feel it struggling in pains of birth

    And, when it arrives, we dress it in words of earth  (Rachel Fields)

  • HI, I am the Author of Ambiguous Desires. If you like Poetry give a try!

  • As a Visually impaired poet my simple goal is to encourage other 'disabled' writers to prove to all that we can also provide entertainment in the written arts alongside our abled colleages 

  • Everyone has a story and a voice, however, not everyone knows how or has the courage to bring it to the forefront. Once we learn who and whose we are it is up to each individual to share that with others so they too can find themselves. 

  • My goal is not monetary. It is to make it interesting enough that people will open it and at least try to read it. My goal is to glorify God. I trust Him. I know that if it is His will it will be published. Right now it is in westbowpress. The name of title is "Why Did I Believe" Each poem has a comment and verse. It is a journey on my way to finding God. The cover is a man looking the milky way and the stars. The cover is in  # 538596032. At bottom of picture there is an option to see similar views. Would love another persons idea of which one is best for cover. There are plenty to choose from.