What is Poetry? is a question that has concerned academics, poets and teachers for hundreds of years. To a large extent it is possible to say that if you call something a poem then that is what it is. John Hegley's poem What a poem's not below explores this issue further. Poetry began as an oral form using rhyme and rhythm to keep the listener's attention. As poetry has developed it has become more page oriented. It is vital that children are given the opportunity to hear how poetry sounds different to narrative through regular exposure and to begin to make connections between the forms and devices that poets use and their impact on meaning.
This part of the site contains definitions of the most common poetic terms (although many the devices could be used in other types of creative writing) alongside examples of that form or device in use.