Different ways of expression

Anna Hestler

Poems are a bit like people - they have different ways of expressing themselves.

Some poems do nothing more than list ideas, while others tell long stories or reflect on deep and meaningful things.

Over the centuries, poets have dreamed up all kinds of poems to express their ideas.

You can use the structures they've developed to shape your ideas.

Here are some of the most popular ones.


Acrostic poems are read downwards, the first letters making up the title of the poem.

In an acrostic, you can write about yourself, using the letters of your name. You can also write about things you enjoy or detest. Here's an example:


Rotten food

Unpleasant smell

Bits of leftovers

Banana peels

Ice-cream tubs

Smelly stuff

Have to take it out

Write an acrostic about something you love or hate.


List poems are easy to write because you don't have to worry about rhyme or rhythm. But you still need to organise your ideas.

The rules for writing a list poem are simple: Make sure you have a beginning and an end; and start each line in the same way. Here's an example:

The haunted house

In the cellar is a skeleton swinging from the ceiling

In the attic is a chest full of spiders

In the kitchen is a knife with a sharp blade

In the hall is a broken doll with no legs

In the living room is a sofa covered in cobwebs

In the bedroom is a bed with a black cat on it

And all I can hear is the whisper of a ghost!

Replace the underlined words to create your own poem.


Haiku is a centuries-old form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems are usually about nature - they're like snapshots of what's happening at a particular moment.

Traditional haiku have 17 syllables (or beats) divided into three lines: five in the first line, seven in the second line and five in the third line.

You don't have to follow this rule, but do keep your poem short. Here's an example:


In the morning sun (5 syllables)

Flowers stand pretty and tall (7 syllables)

For all to see them (5 syllables)

The best ideas for haiku are in nature, so go outside and look around.

Focus on something like a tree, a flower, leaves blowing in the wind, etc.

Jot down your observations. Then write a three-line haiku.


Long ago people used poems to tell stories about romances, heroic deeds and historical events. These were long poems with a beginning and an end. The rules for writing narrative poems haven't changed much, but the topics have.

Nowadays, they're used to tell all kinds of stories. Narrative poems are easy to write because they don't have to rhyme. Here's an example:

I remember

I remember my first day at school

The other children were bigger than me

And the teacher was a giant

I felt as small as a pea

Until my teacher told me that I had the loudest voice!

Now write four or more lines of a poem beginning with the line 'I remember ...'

There's no need to reinvent when you're writing poetry. All you have to do is follow the patterns developed by other poets to express your ideas. So what are you waiting for? Get writing!