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Line Poem Directions


From the melodic free verse read during coffee house open mics to epic volumes, poetry comes in all different forms. In fact, there are more than 50 types of poems, and more are created every day. Each different type of poem has different rules regarding how lines should be written. Thus, the directions for writing lines of poetry change depend on the type of poem that you are writing. However, many poems require writers to follow meter, rhyme scheme and visual directions.

Review the poetry line requirements for the type of poem you would like to write. For example, a cinquain requires five lines, each of which plays a specific role in describing the subject. A couplet is a rhyming two-line poem or part of a poem. Read an explanation of the poem's form, followed by several samples to learn how the lines work together to create the piece as a whole.

Check for meter requirements. According to the University of Pennsylvania English department, there are five basic meters in English poetry: dactyls, iambs, trochees, spondees and anapests. Each of these meters refers to a different combination of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line of poetry. If the poem you are writing requires one of these meters, find a sample of the meter in a literary textbook and read it out loud to hear the meter you will be trying to replicate.

Check to see whether the poem you are writing requires rhymed or unrhymed lines. In some poem types, like free or blank verse, lines may be either rhymed or unrhymed. If the poem you are writing requires rhyming lines, check to see whether a specific rhyme scheme is required. A rhyme scheme will be indicated by a sequence of lowercase letters. A letter stands for each line of poetry, and lines with the same letter should rhyme. For example, an Italian sonnet requires a rhyme scheme of "abbaabba" in the first eight lines, followed by six lines with a "cdcdcd" or "cdecde" rhyme scheme.

Look for examples of poems with non-traditional lines. Some types of visual poetry may not have lines at all. Other types may have lines that work together to create a picture. If you are writing this type of poem, find examples, such as "jHegaf" by Geof Huth, and ReadWriteThink.org's lesson on shape poems, to guide you. However, remember that you may take artistic license with poetry lines, using them to fit your poem's purpose.

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