The Modern Language Association of America, an organization with members in 100 countries, is responsible for the MLA Style Guide, which is used around the world. The MLA style, used primarily in the humanities and most often in writing on language and literature, is detailed in a pair of reference books published by the association. The style includes simple citation formats for almost every source, including poems.
Locate the Important Information
Before crafting the MLA citation for a poem, you must first locate the necessary information. According to the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook, this list of data includes the name of the poet, the title of the anthology or work that the poem appears in and the page where it is found, the editor (if applicable), the publisher and the place and date of publication. Some of the information can be found on the page the poem is on, while the rest will likely be located on the cover, or on an information page early in the book.
Craft the Citation
According to the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook, a typical MLA citation for a poem will always begin with the poet's name (last name first) and a period. Next should be the poem's title in quotation marks, followed by a period. The title of the anthology where the work is found should then be listed in italics, followed by the name of the anthology's editor, if there is one. Each should be followed by a period. Next, list the city of publication and the publishing house, separated by a colon, and followed by a comma and the year of publication. Finally, include the page number the poem can be found on, and the medium of publication, separated by a period. For example, to cite Langston Hughes' poem, Dream Deferred, you would do the following: Hughes, Langston. "Dream Deferred (Harlem)." 101 Great American Poems (italicized). Ed. Andrew Carroll, et. al. Mineola, New York: Dover, 1998. 75. Print.