Creative Writing in the EFL Classroom/Poems

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There are many poems and poetic forms. Below are some of them:

Free Poems[edit | edit source]

Many poems are written without regard to any specific form. However, most of them do use poetic devices such as rhyme, rhythmic patterning, alliteration, assonance, and of course, metaphor.

When we write free poems, out main focus is on the topic of the poem rather than on the form in which it is expressed. Some familiar themes are: family, relationship, school, nature, food, hardship etc.

Many people consider free form poems to be a modern form of poetry. The truth is that it has been around for several centuries; only in the 20th century did it become one of the most popular forms of poetry. Its popularity stems from the belief that free verse is poetry without rules; after all, it doesn't rhyme, and it doesn't have a meter. However, what separates poetry from prose is the arrangement of carefully chosen words into poems.

One of the famous free form poems was written by an American poet Carl Sandburg. It gives the reader a different mental image of fog.


The fog comes on little cat feet.

It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.

The Red Wheelbarrow So much depends Upon

A red wheel Barrow

Glazed with rain Water

Beside the white Chickens. (William Carlos Williams)

Form Poems[edit | edit source]

When you write form poems, you write them by respecting certain rules, and those rules govern their form.

Some of them are syllabic poems requiring hat lines contain a set number of syllables. The Haiku, for example, has three lines of 5, 7, and 5. The Cinquain has five lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables respectively. Tanka is another form of Japanese poetry that consists of 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7).

The themes for form poems are love, nature, seasons, and friendship.

A couplet is a pair of lines of verse. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter. Two words that rhyme can be called a couplet.


My friend has eyes like mud. She’s got a giant butt.

Here is another example:

I did but saw her passing by. But I shall love her till I die.

A house is built of logs and stone, Of tiles and posts and piers; A home is built of loving deeds That stands a thousand years.

Written by Victor Hugo

A quatrain is a four-lined, rhyming poem or stanza. Quatrains have several possible rhyme schemes. The first is designed as two couplets joined together with the a a b b pattern. Other rhyme patterns are a b a b, a b b a, and a b c b.


Evening red and morning gray, a Set the traveler on his way, a But evening gray and morning red, b Bring the rain upon his head. b

Author unknown

Another example:

O, my luve's like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June: O, my luve's like the melodie That's sweetly played in tune.

From Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose"

An acrostic poem uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word.

Use your name to create an acrostic poem. Use all the letters of your name.

For example:

Renee is Energetic, Never bored, Extremely helpful Extra kind.

Here is another one:

Loves to play on the computer

Always humorous

Unique in every way

Running, jumping, tumbling at gym

Exceptionally bright


You may use a concept to form an acrostic poem.

People live happily together in this world. Everybody helps each other. All of us Cooperate with Each other.

If you can count syllables, you can write a haiku. This is one of the easiest types of poetry to learn to write. It doesn't rhyme, and it isn't supposed to have a title. The hard part is deciding which words to use!

The modern haiku was fashioned by a Japanese poet named Masaoka Shiki in the late 1800's. He created this new form of poetry to present realistic portrayals of nature and life. Tradition insists that a clue to the season be included. This poem is made up of three lines only. There are only 17 syllables altogether. The pattern of syllables goes like this:

five syllables seven syllables five syllables Example:

Yesterday I ate 5 - Yes/ter/day/I/ate breakfast and grabbed my backpack 7 - break/fast/and/grabbed/my/back/pack to hurry to school 5 - To/hur/ry/to/school

Below is another example:

As I lay and gaze Blue skies and white clouds Billowing high above me


Tanka is another form of Japanese poetry that consists of 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7). The themes for Tanka are love, nature, seasons, and friendship.

Here is an example of a tanka:


Wind blowing my face

Making my cheeks rosy red

It's biting my nose

And chilling through all my bones

It is pushing me along

Cinquain poems are five lines long with a certain number of syllables or words in each. Cinquain poems do not rhyme. There are many ways to write cinquain poems. Here is an example of one cinquain pattern.

Line 1: Title - one word or two syllables Line 2: Description or example of the title - 2 words or four syllables Line 3: Action about the title - a 3 word phrase or six syllables Line 4: a 4 word phrase describing a feeling about the title or 8 syllables Line 5: Synonym for the title - one word - 2 syllables

Line 1: Panther Line 2: Sleek, graceful Line 3: Running, hiding, emerging Line 4: Happy to be free Line 5: Cat

Haibun may be a new for many. According to Prof. Alan Maley:

Haibun is a Japanese term used to describe a particular kind of text. To write a haibun, you need to experience a particular place at a particular time. One of the best ways of doing this is to take a walk. This can either be a special walk to a place of natural or historical beauty or significance, or a walk in a familiar place (for example, the journey to or from school or work).

The important thing is to take a notebook with you on your walk, and to NOTICE things more intensely than you would normally do. When you return from your walk, put your notes to one side for a day or so. Then write up your impressions in a mixture of prose and short poems.

The important thing is to share with others, through your writing, what you observed and felt. The haibun might be compared to a collection of visual snapshots linked by inner monologue or commentary.


Stephen Nelson’s Coastal Town

Out to the coast. The town of Largs. My parents came here on their honeymoon. They stayed at a guest house run by a Mrs Clarke, a severe old girl by all accounts. I was born a year later.

I make for the shore, crossing pebbles to hear the sea again. Washed up wood and bird feathers. A lonely rock. Lapping waves touch my core, wave after wave, unlocking mysteries. Calm islands in the bay and a bowl of sea water reflecting sunshine. I phone my mother, recently widowed. She is at lunch with an aunt, another tough old bird. Duties amid the grieving.

A ferry rolls between the islands. But in hazy light. Dreams of the ocean, on to America, visions of the spinning earth. The vastness.

Away from the shore, a boy in blue overalls paints an ice cream kiosk.

Beach holidays year by year the same destination.

Source: [23 March 2009]