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What is the correct format for a poem?


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September 14, 2011 9:04AM

There is no "correct" format for a poem. The way a poem is written on the page can be conventional (as you might find in a Shakespearean sonnet) or at times wildly chaotic (see much of e.e. Cummings's poetry) or somewhere in-between. The format of your poem could be influenced by the genre of poetry you are writing, your poem's content, or simply your own sense of aesthetics.To take this answer a stage further, while it is true that there is no 'correct' format for a poem, using the above examples of a Shakespeareaen sonnet or poetry of ee Cummings, you can see a difference. We're not talking about language but the format, in other words, how it looks on the page.

For example, every Shakespearean sonnet LOOKS the same. It will comprise 14 lines; the first 12 lines will not necessarily rhyme; the last two lines are what is called 'a rhyming couplet' which means two lines that rhyme.

ee Cummings developed his own style, comprising mainly no punctuation.

If you want to write a poem of a particular format, you have to know what type of poem you want. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to write entirely in your own style, in other words, what you feel works best for you.