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How do you know a poem is a poem? Say you are walking down the street and run into something that looks vaguely like a poem. How can you tell?

The Four Characteristics of Poetry

Line length Poets choose their own length. Tends to be single line. Truncated. Even at a casual glance you know it's a poem.

Whose woods these are, I think I know
His house is in the village, though.
He will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

Heightened use of sound rhyme, alliteration

Tiny Tom tiptoed toward the tree.
The wind eased through the tree's leaves.
Tom's boot hit a root.
He said, "Shoot!"

Rhythm systemic variation in the flow of sound

I existed in a womb just like an abyss
Came straight from spiritland, my hands balled in a fist
Punching on my mom's stomach, kicking on her cervix
Twitching cause I'm nervous
Thought my intended purpose
Was to be born to reign, not in scorn or vain
But to take on a name, my pops chose for me
Bloodstream full of indo
Developing eyes looking out my belly-button window.

Poetry 101
What, exactly, are we looking at here?

Crunch Time
Another way of looking at poetry, for better or verse.

Some common poetry forms
Can't tell the difference between a sonnet and a cinquain?

The
Villanelle

Robert Frost
A look at the work of New Hampshire's best-known poet.

T.S. Eliot
From "coffee spoons" to "Cats."

PoetryCast
Bringing poetry to the Internets!

Rap and Ryhme

An investigation into the works of William Smith and Sir Mixalot

Songwriting
Get your funky folk on!

Nursery rhymes

Compression saying a lot in a few words.

if you like my poems let them
walk in the evening, a little behind you
then people will say
"Along this road i saw a princess pass
on her way to meet her lover ( t was
toward nightfall) with tall and ignorant servants."