What Are the Different Types of Poetry Games?

Tara Barnett

There are many different types of poetry games, but they typically either take the form of creating poetry through a game or working with poetry as part of the game. Poetry magnets, for example, are a type of poetry game that involves creating poems. Karuta, on the other hand, is a game in which knowledge about poems is a major part of the game. Sometimes, composition of poems is undertaken in a competitive or game-like manner, as is the case with limericks and other small poems. Poetry games can also be invented specifically for classroom use in order to teach about poetry in entertaining ways.

Poetry games can also be invented specifically for classroom use in order to teach about poetry in entertaining ways.
Poetry games can also be invented specifically for classroom use in order to teach about poetry in entertaining ways.

Some of the most common types of poetry games involve making poems in fun ways. Poetry magnets, for example, can be rearranged in various formations to create unique poems. There are different poetry magnet kits addressing different topics, but creating poetry in this way is often easy because of the mind's readiness to see meaning in random arrangements of words. Games involving filling in blanks without context can also be amusing when applied to poetry.

There are also poetry games involving knowledge of poetry rather than creation of new works. Karuta, for example, is a game in which knowing a number of poems is an advantage. Similar games involve matching poems to authors or finding lines that go together. These games can be educational and often involve flashcards.

In some cases, poems themselves can constitute games or riddles. Some involve interaction on the part of the listener, as is the case in many nursery rhymes and children's poems. These poems are often given music in order to turn the poem into a song.

Poets sometimes create poems in a game-like manner rather than for artistic gratification. Limericks, for example, are very short poems that are often created in contests of wit among friends. Haikus are also sometimes the subject of this type of game. This type of poetry play often has no prize, but rather involves being better than the prior player.

In classrooms, various types of poetry games can be used to teach about poetry in a fun way. For example, one common game involves printing out and cutting up song lyrics or more traditional poetry and pasting them together again into new poems. When teaching about fixed verse poems, such as sestinas, poetry games can involve collaboratively creating a poem. For sestinas, each student may be tasked with coming up with a specific line ending with the appropriate word, and those lines can then be put together into a finished poem that is often quite funny. This allows students to learn about form without considering content.

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Discussion Comments


@bythewell - I think it can be difficult to draw the line between educational games and activities when you're teaching poetry. I remember one of the games we played was more of a challenge, where the teacher got us to brainstorm every single word we knew relating to anger and then asked us to write a short poem about anger without using any of those words.


@irontoenail - It's important to play fun poetry games before getting started on more serious work, because you want to open up the mind and laughter is a good way of doing that. Unless you feel safe enough to be silly, you aren't going to be able to fully express yourself in a classroom setting, or even when you're just trying to write poetry by yourself.

Any kind of brainstorming game is good, but I think it's probably best to make it fun rather than obviously educational. People in poetry classes tend to be fairly earnest and serious and might not relax if they think they are in a competitive game.


I did a course on poetry a few years ago and we played a pretty cool game there. We had to write a line of poetry on a piece of paper and then pass all the pieces along, folding them so only one line was visible each time and continuing the poem.

I think the professor gave us a prompt each time, like "include a color in this line". And then we each had to read out the poem that resulted, starting with the original line that we wrote.

I don't know if it actually helped us to learn anything, but it was a lot of fun and the poetry turned out to be hilarious.

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