The forms used for Poem Snap are outlined below. Please keep to the stated form description as far as possible. Some leeway is allowed but posts straying well outside the 'rules' will be removed, after attempting to contact the author. Posts should use the short forms stated below or the more general form, but please keep the posts less than 25 lines.

scroll to Acrostic   Bell   Blank Verse   Cavatina   Cinquain   Couplet   Didactic   Dizain   Epigram   Epitaph   Footle   Haiku   Laterne   Limerick   Monorhyme   Ninette   Nonet   Ottava rima   Pantoum   Quatern   Quatrain   Rhyme   Senryu   Snap Stories   Sonnet   Tanka   Tersa rima  


A poem, usually in verse, in which the first or the last letters of the lines, or certain other letters, taken in order, form a name, word, phrase, or motto. The name is often in the Title of the poem. The featured letters are often shown in 'bold'.


The bell form is an elongated version of a Cinquain. It has 9 lines and rigid syllable count of 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 2, 1, respectively. When the center alignment is used for the layout, the poem resembles a bell shape. [if not you get a half bell!] The last two lines are the 'striker' - the counterpoint that chimes the bell!

Bells have so much symbolism and historical significance that it should be easy to be inspired by this form as a reader or writer. The bell form lend itself to didactic poems or reflections on past events heralded by bells. It is also ideal for simple music expressions using rhyme, rhythm or free verse.

Blank verse

Blank verse has a regular meter, usually iambic pentameter, but no rhyme. Blank verse is not the same as 'free verse' because it employs a meter e.g. Paradise Lost by John Milton which is written in iambic pentameters. One or more Quatrains are often used for this style.


Cavatina poems have alternating lines with 10 syllables (non-rhyming) and 4 syllables (rhyming). The lines are repeated at least three (3) times. The poem ends with two rhymed ten syllable lines (a couplet). The rhyme scheme is xaxa xbxb xcxc, etc., ending with dd ( with 'x' being unrhymed lines).

Cinquain (American)

The modern American cinquain has 5 lines and 22 syllables (2/4/6/8/2) The traditional cinquain is based on a word counts and stress patterns. It has five lines, and often, one word in the first line, two words in the second line etc. The development of the modern cinquain is attributed to Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) who had a deep appreciation for metrics and had a profound appreciation for Japanese tanka and haiku. Crapsey's cinquains used an accentual stress pattern of 1/2/3/4/1 which was prominent in Crapsey's cinquains. However this stress pattern has been generally underemphasized in favour of the syallable counts.

The best cinquain poems strictly adhere to the structure (2/4/6/8/2) and have intense physical imagery to communicate a mood, message or feeling, in a succinct way. In some ways, the ciquain is a type of epigram. Like a Haiku, there is an accumulation of energy in the first 3-4 lines with a dramatic counter point in the last two of one lines towards a climax or understatement. This 'twist in the tale' is an essential part of a good Cinquain which conveys a message or thought drawn towards a 'punch-line'.


Couplets are rhyming stanzas with a pair of lines. The two lines of a verse form a unit. For most couplets the two lines rhyme, but this is not absolutely necessary. The message or topics in the two lines are coupled together. Example

I THINK that I shall never see (a)

A poem lovely as a tree. (a)

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest (b)

Against the sweet earth's flowing breast; (b)

Didactic Short

Didactic poems aim to instruct the mind, teach and improve understanding of various topics. It teaches or explains something such as a truth, a moral, a principle or a process. The English word "didactic" derives from the Greek didaktikos ("able to teach"). Didactic poetry instructs, either in terms of morals or by providing knowledge of philosophy, religion, arts, science, or skills. Didactic poems contain a clear moral or message or purpose to convey to its readers. John Milton's epic 'Paradise Lost' and Alexander Pope's 'An Essay on Man' are famous examples. It is a poem form not an essay or prose, and so should include poetic devices such as word images, rhyme, meter as well as reason and argument.


The French dizain form has ten lines with the rhyming pattern a b a b b c c d c d. The lines are usually iambic pentameter (or traditionally 8 syllables per line).


An epigram is a short poem with a clever twist at the end or a concise and witty statement. Often the two or three lines rhyme. Often the two or three lines rhyme and have a similar number of syllables.

Here lies my wife: here let her lie!
Now she's at rest — and so am I.
— John Dryden

Little strokes
Fell great oaks.
— Benjamin Franklin


A short commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument, or a short poem written to praise the deceased.


A footle is a 2 line, 2 syllable trochaiac monometer poem [with one metrical foot on each line with the stress on the first syllable]. The title is integral to the poem. It is suitable for light, witty, pertinent and topical verse. It resembles a mini-ballard when the stanzas are strung together.

Beach Footles

Hot sun
What fun

Soft sand
How grand

Blue sea
For me

Free Verse

Various styles of poetry that are not written using a strict meter or rhyme, but that still are recognizable as 'poetry' or verse. They contain various poetic devices and forms of expression such as word play and word images that readers clearly recognise as poetry. It is a free form with no rules.


This traditional Japanese form has three lines with 5/7/5 syllables respectively. In the Japanese form each syllable must have three sound units (a consonant, a vowel, and another consonant). But this three unit-rule is usually ignored in English haiku, since syllables in English vary in size much more than in Japanese.

The traditional subject-matter is a Zen style 'Snap-shot' description of a location, natural phenomona, wildlife, or a common everyday occurrence. The weather, nature and seasonal activities are particularly popular topics. If the subject-matter is personal emotions, feelings or the poem uses puns, elaborate symbols, images or other forms of "cleverness," the poem is a senryu rather than a haiku. The haiku aims to express the qualities of a reaction to the natural world or a description of it, uncluttered by "ideas."

The haiku is generally set in the context of a particular season or month as indicated by a kigo, or traditional season-word. This brief (and often subtle) reference to a season establishes the predominant mood of the poem.

The haiku traditionally employ "the technique of cutting", that is a division or shift in thought between the first and later portions of the poem. It is similar to the volta of a sonnet. The counter-point at the end is a strength of this form of poetry. The two parts should be able to stand independently from the other. Punctuation is often used to mark the shift: such as a dash, colon, semicolon, or ellipsis.


These 5 line poems have fixed syllable counts 1/2/3/4/1. The lines do not ryhyme and the poem is based on a single idea in one sentence or several phrases. When center indent is used the layout resembles that of a lantern, hence the name.


A limerick is a five-line, often humorous or ribald poem with a strict meter. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of have seven to ten syllables (three metrical feet) and rhyme with one another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven (two metrical feet) syllables and also rhyme with each other. The rhyme scheme is usually "A-A-B-B-A".

Limerick Rhythm
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM => 7-10 syllables A
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM => 7-10 syllables A
da DUM da da DUM => 5-7 syllables B
da DUM da da DUM => 5-7 syllables B
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM => 7-10 syllables A


A monorhyme poem has identical rhyme on every line ( 'aaaaa....). Rhymes can also be added in the middle of each line


The ninette has nine lines, each increasing in one syllable, then at the midpoint, decreasing again (1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1). The form, when centered, appears like a paper lantern. The first and last word may be the same, antonyms, or synonyms.


A nonet has nine lines, with the first line starting with 9 syllables and then decreasing for each subsequent line => 9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1. This pattern can be reversed.

Ottava rima

Each ottava rima stanza in English consists of 8 iambic lines, usually iambic pentameters. The rhyming scheme for each stanza is a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c. The form is similar to the older Sicilian octave, but evolved separately and is unrelated.


The Pantoum is a type of formal verse that is distinguished by cycling refrains. They are written in quatrains, that may be rhymed or unrhymed. The first quatrain consists of four lines. The second quatrain uses the second and fourth lines from the first quatrain as its first and third lines. The second and fourth lines of the second quatrain are new lines. The third quatrain uses the second and fourth lines of the second quatrain as refrains in the first and third line line positions. The third quatrain's second and fourth lines are new lines. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first line.


The quatern is 16-line form composed of four quatrains with eight syllables per line. The first line of stanza one becomes the refrain, and is repeated as the second line of stanza two, the third line of stanza three and the fourth line of stanza four. The quatern can be unrhymed or rhymed.


Each stanza of the poem has four lines. Generally, lines 2 and 4 rhyme and have the same number of syllables. Lines 1 and 3 may also rhyme. Iambic pentameter and other patterns can be used.


A rhyming poem has the same or similar sounds of two or more words repeated, often at the end of the line. Rhymes may also occur within the lines. The meter of these poems is also important and it accentuates the rhyming pattern.


A short Japanese style poem, similar to haiku in structure with 5/7/5 syllables. However, senryu tend to be about human emotions and feelings while haiku tend to be about nature. Senryu are often playful, cynical or humorous and can be satire or thoughtful and tongue-in-cheek messages, while haiku are serious. Senryu also have a 'sting in the tail' ending with a counterpoint, similar to haiku

Snap Stories

This includes snap stories, prose, commentaries and mini-blog entries on any topic, limited to 25 lines.


Sonnet poems (Shakespeare style) have 14 lines consisting of three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme of this type of sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg. There are many variations and other options.


Tanka is a Japanese poem of five lines with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables. Each tanka is traditionally divided into two parts. The first three lines are the upper segment, and the last two lines are the lower segment. In the upper phrase the poet creates an image or concept. In the lower phrase the poets present their ideas and thoughts about the image or topic. Tanka poems are similar to a haiku in a way, but have two additional lines. Haikus are typically about nature, whereas Tanka are focused on broader topics and often convey strong messages, feelings and emotions. The two-part structure of the poem is a powerful way of presenting ideas.

Tersa rima

Terza rima is a traditional Italian poetry form, with a series of three-line stanza (tercet). There is an interlinking pattern of chain rhymes. The second line of each tercet is the rhyme scheme for the first and third lines of the next tercet. So the rhyming scheme is ABA, BCB, CDC, etc.


These poems are unconventional and do not follow the rules or patterns of the other short forms. This includes experimental layouts and forms. Authors should add a note explaining the layout and patterns.