Get Your Premium Membership

Narrative Poetry

by Holly Bliss

I adore writing poetry. I’ll arm myself, with pen and paper at the ready, and accept any challenge of conquering a new poetry form.

Last year was the first time I questioned whether or not I could meet the challenge and bury it on the battlefield. Sure, I’m a perfectionist, but what could make a person who’s played with poetry for almost thirty-five years hesitate before charging? It was the narrative form.

I’m not talking about the ballad or epic - which are types of narrative poetry - or other rhyming narratives. I’m referring to the more modern, freer, narrative poetry. It was different than anything I’d ever done before. To me, it seemed more like a story than a poem. I even remember wondering how they could get away with calling it poetry.

EXAMPLES TO READ: (both easy to find on Google if you aren't familiar with them)

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden
The Wood-pile by Robert Frost

I write stories and poetry, but when I write a poem – I’m in poetry mode, and I felt stuck in neutral. How could the Poet-in-Me mix the two?

Stephen Minot said, in Three Genres – The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama, “Narrative is as natural a structure for poetry as it is for prose.”

Poet-in-Me then rationalizes that Story-Writer-in-Me borrows stuff from the “Poet’s Toolbox” to write more effective stories, so why not knock on her door and borrow a couple of things?

Narrative Poetry Basics in Brief


Narrative Poetry is poetry that tells a tale and can be traced back to Homer's Iliad and possibly beyond.


*Tell a story.

*Pay particular attention to rhythm and sound.

COULD HAVES or What's The Poet's Choice In All This?

*YOU choose the form or whether or not to even use a particular form (aka ballad, etc.)

*Imagery - depth of imagery up to the author – but keep in mind that a primary part of poetry is imagery, and you are writing a poem that tells a story, not a short story.

*Rhyme - use it or not - internal, external or none.

Since I’ve tried using narratives in my poetry, I feel as if I’ve written some of the best work I ever have in my life. It has opened a door I never knew was locked and I crossed a threshold into a land I never knew existed.

Simply, It has helped me grow as a writer.

WRITING EXERCISE: If you are a writer that really considers yourself more of a poet, try out narrative poetry as a way to build a bridge to story writing. If you consider yourself mainly a storywriter, use the narrative form to ease your way into poetry.

© 2006 Holly Bliss. All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely redistributed in its unedited form and on the condition that all copyright references are kept intact along with the hyperlinked URLs.

About the Author: Using her writing as paint on the canvas of her life, Holly Bliss is an eclectic writer, newsletter editor and an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry.

Article Source: