Anaphora: repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines in the poem & usually throughout the poem.

Alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words across nearby words in a phrase.

Allusion: making a direct or indirect to a person, event, thing, or a part of another creative work.

Apostrophe: directly addressing (talking to / making a speech to) a person or personified n0n-human subject that is not present.

Ars Poetica: a poem that explains the speaker's art / philosophy of writing poetry. These poems might explore questions like What is poetry? What can poetry do? Why and how do we write poems? Examples: "Poetry Should Ride the Bus" by Ruth Forman and "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins

Assonance: repetition of a vowel sound across multiple words in a line.


Consonance: repetition of a consonant sound across multiple words in a line.

Curse Poem: poem where you wish a curse on someone who wronged you, typically by writing a narrative about a scenario where they get what they deserve in some way that matches their bad behavior. Example: "For the Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts Where My Cousin Esteban Was Forbidden to Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks" by MartĂ­n Espada


Definition Poem: poem that attempts to define a concept or idea by mimicking a dictionary definition, encyclopedia entry, a recipe, or other unusual short informational formats.. Examples: "Portrait of the Family as a Definition" by Kerrin McCadden and "The Hindsight Octopus" by Franny Choi


Elegy: a poem that reflects on death or loss. Note that this can about a person, place, thing, or idea, if you want. In the poem, you express your sorrow and to mourn what will be missed about the poem's subject.

Epistolary Poem (Letter): poem written in the form of a letter or the equivalent (e.g. email or text). The poet directly addresses another person, object, animal, idea, etc. The form can creates a sense of intimacy, as if you are listening in on a private conversation. Open letter poems do the opposite, declaring someone's complaint or declaration about strongly held feelings. The poem might have the word "letter" in the title, or it might just say it is for a specific group of people (e.g. "to the girls who..." Examples: "A Letter to My Dog, Exploring the Human Condition" by Andrea Gibson and "To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter" by Jesse Parent

Eckphrastic Poem: poem that responds to another creative work (e.g. painting, song, music video, etc.) There are many ways to respond. Here are three possibilities: (1) write about a personal connection you have with the work (2) create your own narrative about what is going on in the work by telling an implied or unseen situation in the work (3) describe the the contents of the work using sensory details or comment on the artistic process.

Enjambment: continuing a sentence or phrase from one line to the next without pausing. It is the opposite of end-stopping a line.

Euphemism: replacing a word or phrase with an alternative one that makes people uncomfortable. Use euphemisms to talk about an uncomfortable subject, to add texture to your writing, or to add some humor.

Extended Metaphor: A metaphor that continues throughout a series of lines, sometimes throughout the whole poem.


Form Poem: poem with a formal structure that has usually been established over many years, and that have specific rules for how to write them. Sonnets, sestinas, ghazals, haikus, villanelles, and pantoums have all been around for hundreds of years, but writers find new ways to make them fresh. Newer forms include The Golden Shovel, American Sonnet, and Erasure poems. If you make up your own rules for a poem, perhaps based on a few existing forms, it is called a nonce form. Examples: "My Brother at 3 A.M." by Natalie Diaz, "Hip Hop Ghazal" by Patricia Smith, & "The Golden Shovel" by Terrence Hayes


How To / Advice Poem: poem that gives advice or a set of instructions for the reader. These are often list poems, but they don't all follow that format. The advice or how to instructions aren't just a simple list; they should tackle something that reveals something about the speaker or has higher stakes, though they can be funny and light as well. Examples: "The Type" by Sarah Kay and "How to Love Your Introvert" by Kevin Yang

Hyperbole: using exaggerated statements or claims that are not meant to be taken literally. Hyperbole is used to heighten emotion or for comedic effect. Examples: "Daddy Dozens" by Jamila Woods and "Ego Tripping" by Nikki Giovanni


List Poem: At its most basic, a list poem (aka a catalog poem) is a list of names, places, actions, thoughts, or images. But it is more than a simple list. The order of items is well thought out, not random. Like any poem, you should use specificity and variety. List poems often use repetition and include a surprise item in the sequence of items. And finally, the list suggests some story, a larger point, just like any other poem would.

There are a lot of types of list poems, but here are a few that you might find: (1) definition of a concept, person, or thing by listing its characteristics, actions, or impact; (2) a progression of events, as in memories or or a chronology of events; (3) a series of steps as in instructions, a how-to, or advice; or (3) just an inventory or classification of items. Examples: "Everything I Love" by Adam Falkner and "Girl Code 101" by Blythe Baird


Manifesto: a public declaration of beliefs, intent, or goals, mostly from a political perspective, but it can be about anything, even poetry. A manifesto might lay out a list of rules (e.g. the biblical 10 commandments), goals (e.g. new years resolutions), or a vision of how the world should be, but isn't (e.g. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech"). Example: "You Are Who I Love" by Aracelis Girmay

Metonymy: using one related object or idea as a substitute for another. For instance, for a business person, you might call them a suit and if you are talking about the British monarchy, you might just say "the crown."


Ode: poem that praises the virtues of of a person, place, idea, or thing. Though they were originally formal and serious praising things that great things, most modern odes are informal and praise common, unlikely, or complicated things, people or ideas. Examples: "Rat Ode" by Elizabeth Acevedo and "Ode to the Women on Long Island" by Olivia Gatwood


Personification: giving human characteristics to abstract ideas, animals or inanimate objects. Examples: "The Toothbrush to the Bicycle Tire" by Sarah Kay and "My Spanish" by Melissa Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Point of View: is the perspective from which the poem's story is told. Many poems you read will be use first person point of view to have the speaker talk about their own experience. This brings an intimacy to the poem with its use of "I". Second person is from the point of view of the the subject of the poem, perhaps even the reader themselves with "you," and it invites the reader to be part of the poem. Third person uses "he," "she," "it," and "them." and provides some distance between the speaker and the story of the poem. This point of view is useful if creating a narrative poem, especially if it has multiple characters.


Rhetorical Question: a dramatic question asked in a poem that is not intended to be answered. It is used for dramatic effect, for getting a point across or to set up the topic for critique or to poke fun. Examples: "Love, I'm Done With You" by Ross Gay

Rhyme: the repetition of identical or similar sounding stressed sounds at the end of words, often at the end of poetic lines (aka end rhyme), but patterns of rhyme can also occur in the middle of lines or (aka internal rhyme). Rhymes can sound nearly identical (aka perfect rhyme) or can share some similarities, but not identical sounds (aka slant rhymes). Examples: "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman and "Smile" by Rhiannon McGavin


Self Portrait Poem: poem that provides a portrait of the poet's identity. These poems go beyond a simple description of one's personality or life. They can be about any subject, but the poem should include some aspect of the poet's inner life that they reveal in the poem. "Self Portrait as a 90s R&B Video" by Danez Smith and "Self Portrait as So Much Potential" by Chen Chen

Social Issues Poem: poem that creates awareness and / or a critique of a social issue by (1) relating a personal experience (2) responding to a current event (e.g. murder of George Floyd) (3) or providing an unusual take or fresh perspective on it. Check out Split This Rock's database of social justice poems. Example: "A Small Needful Fact" by Ross Gay

Story Poem: aka a narrative poem is one where you tell a story through your poem. Examples: "OCD" by Neil Hilborn and "Montauk" by Sarah Kay

Synecdoche: figure of speech where you use part of something to stand in for the whole. For example, if you say, "they had hungry mouths to feed," you are talking about a whole person, not just their mouth. In poetry, you might use it for dramatic effect or to focus on one element.


Where I'm From Poem: a type of list poem developed by Georgia Ella Lyon that is grounded in sensory details and concrete objects from the poet's home, neighborhood or other significant place. Example: "Where I'm From" by Willie Perdomo