Forms of Poetry for Teens

You might not provide room and board for a young Shakespeare just yet, but writing poetry is like any other ability -- with practice, a new skill is honed. Unlike other genres of literature, poetry allows an especially personal outlet for feelings and thoughts. Writing poetry might help your teenager express ideas she wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable sharing. Encourage her self-expression through the ancient art of poetry as she follows in the footsteps of countless writers before her -- from Homer to the Bard to the more modern romantic poets.


With roots in the 14th century, the word “sonnet” means “little song.” Teenagers could choose to write several types of sonnets, but each is typically 14 lines long. The English, or Shakespearean, sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet, with a rhyme scheme arranged as ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet originated from the Italian poet Petrarch and is typically a combination of an octave and a sestet. The rhyme scheme is most often arranged in an ABBAABBA CDCDCD pattern.

Free or Blank Verse

For a less structured approach, your teenager might enjoy writing either free verse or blank verse. Free verse can be either rhymed or unrhymed, but it has no pattern of meters. This type appeared in the early 1900s, made famous by Walt Whitman and his contemporaries. Several centuries before tht, Shakespeare used blank verse, which most mimics everyday speech. This type of poetry consists of iambic pentameter (five meters of unstressed/stressed feet) without a rhyme scheme.

Short Poems

If your teenager is searching for a shorter poem to write, have him try a haiku or limerick. Haikus are short poems that originated in Japan during the 1600s. These three-line stanza consist of a pattern of syllables following 5, 7, and 5. While these poems don’t include rhyme, they rely primarily on imagery, usually using a nature theme. Another favorite poem for fun-loving writers is the limerick , a short humorous narrative just five lines long. Limericks follow an AABBA rhyme scheme in the anapestic meter (three syllables: two unstressed, one stressed). Often, limericks tell a short story in the form of a joke, starting with a phrase such as: “There once was a man …”

Narrative Poems

As one of the most ancient poetic forms, narrative verse tells a story. The narrative types range from a short ballad to an epic such as "Beowulf." Usually musical in sound, these poems have a long history -- dating back to minstrels such as Homer, who used a long poem to recount "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad." In a more modern setting, narrative poetry can be found hidden inside of folk and country music lyrics.

About the Author

As a literature and grammar teacher, Laura Roberts began editing in 2002, gradually expanding her nonfiction writing to include new curriculum units. In 2008, Roberts began publishing her “Ask the Savvy Bride” column connected with her e-commerce wedding store. She holds a bachelor's in English education from Robert Morris University.

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