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There is a lot more to poetry than "roses are red." And there's more to poetry than the stuff you have to read in English class. Poetry is one of the oldest forms of expression. Since there are so many different kinds of poetry, you are bound to run into a poem or two that you really like!

There are all kinds of poems, from short funny ones to long, tragic ones.

Here are just a few types of poems:

are short, witty poems of five lines, with a set rhyming scheme.
are 14-line poems that date back to the 16th century. The language is sometimes hard to understand, but if you just listen to the sounds of the words, you will find these poems can be very beautiful and moving.
are three-line Japanese poems with only a certain number of syllables allowed per line. They range from very emotional to very hilarious.
are poems used to tell stories. Often old and anonymous, they may have been handed down from one generation to the next as songs.
are long poems used to tell stories. There are a lot of really neat and entertaining narrative poems aimed at children.
Free verse
are those written without a specific form or rhyme scheme. These poems are sometimes considered the easiest to write, but can also be the most touching.

"I read everything from free verse to Shakespearean sonnets. Some poetry impresses me because of its structure, and other poetry I enjoy because of its content," says poetry buff and poet Peter Moirrison.

An interest in poetry can take many forms. For some poetry buffs, it's simply reading poetry. For others, it's going to poetry readings and doing some writing on their own. For still others, it's all of these things along with the added goal of having their poetry published.

"I've had over 60 poems published in around 20 magazines around the world," says Christopher Stolle of Indiana.

Poetry buffs say you don't have to look to the classics to be reading poetry. Poetry takes many forms and can be found in something as common as a song lyric.

"Imagine, by John Lennon, really affected me. While it's a song, it gave me new meaning for life when I heard it a few years ago. He was a great singer and really prophetic with his words," says Stolle.

One of the best things about poetry is that it's easy to get started and can be appreciated just about anywhere. "I take a book and a notepad with me wherever I go in case I get time to read, or in case inspiration hits me," says Moirrison. He has even scribbled down poetry in a dentist's office.

Few poetry buffs expect their hobby to pay off in terms of a job. While there may be jobs for people to edit poetry magazines, poetry enthusiasts say such jobs are few and far between and the pay is low. As for publishing poems, people like Stolle say you better not quit your day job.

"I've never been paid money for my poetry, only been given copies of magazines, which is OK because I love to write," says Stolle.

Experts feel interest in poetry is waning because many young people see poetry as something they have to read, rather than something to enjoy.

"A lot of people I know got turned off poetry early in their lives because they were forced to read something. People aren't seeing poetry as the wonderful, expressive art form that it is. There really is something out there for everyone," says Michaela Perena.

Even though reading or writing poetry tends to be something people do alone, poetry buffs say this doesn't have to be a solitary activity. "There are poetry readings, clubs, classes, and even discussion groups on the Internet, so you can meet other people who like poetry too," says Moirrison.

Getting Started

If you're interested and like to read, poetry buffs say that's all you need to appreciate poetry. "You don't have to have any special training to enjoy poetry. There are some poems I'm not even sure I completely understand, but I love the way they sound and maybe that's all the poet intended," says Perena.

"Pick up an anthology [a collection of different works by different poets] at the library or at a bookstore. You can cruise through it and see lots of different stuff. This is what I did and when I found something I liked, I put a bookmark in the page," says Perena.

Ask around to see if any friends have favorite poets. Word of mouth is a great way to find some good reading.

If you're interested in writing poetry, experts suggest you carry a notebook with you whenever you can. Write down thoughts and observations as they come to you. "Get a notebook small enough to carry around in your pocket and write whenever inspiration strikes," says Moirrison.

While it's not necessary, poetry buffs say you might want to take a creative writing class or a poetry class at a local college or community center. This will introduce you to new poets, new people and new ideas.

Attend a poetry reading, even if you've never heard of the poet. Check for advertisements at coffee houses, bookstores and libraries in your area. You just might have a great time.

Try to find a reading group where you can meet with other people to read and discuss poetry. Libraries and bookstores might have information. If you can't find a reading group, think about starting one yourself.

Finally, experts say, don't be discouraged. There are many great poets out there and there's something for everyone. The important thing is that you enjoy it.

And if you're writing, never mind what you imagine others will think of your work. "Free your mind from critical thoughts and just write. If you're imagining someone else criticizing your work, you'll never write a word," says Moirrison.


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Poetry Archives
An expanding archive of classical poetry, with thousands of poems

Poetry Foundation
Search through thousands of poems in the archive, and read poet biographies, poetry news, comics, and articles about poets

The Academy of American Poets
Find a poem, poet, poetry community or event in your state

The Walt Whitman Archive
Works, images and a biography of one of America's most influential poets

Favorite Poem Project
Find out what poems mean to others

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