How to Write a Short Poem: Short Form Ideas to get you Writing

Little River Poetry Festival co-founder, Judith Stevens, works with a lot of poetry forms, including short poem forms. In her workshops at the festival she always shares some new forms for everyone to try out. Here are just a few of these short forms and how you yourself can try them out!


A French form of poetry, this form is not for the faint of heart. The rhyme scheme is AbAabbA and the seven-line structure goes like this:

Line 1: A—four syllables
Line 2: b—eight syllables
Line 3: A—repeat of line one
Line 4: a—eight syllables
Line 5: b—eight syllables
Line 6: b—eight syllables
Line 7: A—repeat of line one

Topics for these poems can be anything you want.


This short form comes from Afghanistan. Afghani women created and perfected it as an art form. The landay is a simple form with one couplet. The first line is 9 syllables long the second line is 13 syllables long. Although you can write about whatever you choose, many landay poems are written about seperation, home, and love.


Everyone knows what a limerick is, but not everyone knows how to write one. Rhyme and rhythm are key in this short form. The poem should roll off the tongue with an jaunt. Limericks are five lines long with an aabba rhyme scheme. But as previously mentioned, pay careful attention to your rhyme and rhythm. The topics for these poems can be anything you choose. Some traditional Irish limericks are considered quite bawdy, but this enjoyable form is often used to teach children about poetry.


If you’ve heard of a haiku, consider the tanka it’s older sibling. The tanka is a Japanese form with 31 syllables total. The syllable count is as follows:

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
Line 4: 7 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables

This poem is unrhymed and traditional themes use personification, nature, and metaphor.

Which Short Poem Form Do You Want to Try Out at the Little River Poetry Festival? Sign Up today!

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