Dramatic Poetry

Definition – Examples – How to Write

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Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Today, and for the next few weeks, we’re talking about the second Pillar of Genre. Let’s talk about Poetry.

How do you define what Poetry even is? Would you say that it has a meter or cadence? That it has to rhyme and have multiple verses? That it has to take a specific form? All of those things may be aspects of poetry, and yet poems exist that could also be said to have none of those qualities. Today we are going to go into Dramatic Poetry, so let’s talk about it.

Dramatic Poetry Definition

Dramatic poetry is going to sound, at first, a little like narrative poetry. Dramatic poetry is narrative, in that it absolutely does tell a story in lines of verse, but that story is specifically meant to be spoken aloud orally. Dramatic poetry is actually older than narrative poetry, as the oral tradition is older than the written one. Still, dramatic poetry can be found in many places, even still today.

Let me just ask–have you ever been to a slam poetry competition? Because even though I don’t often write poetry myself, I am an absolute fiend for going to slam poetry competitions. I remember the first time a friend brought me to this art gallery after hours that had a stage set up in the main room, most of the lights dimmed, and a slam poetry competition that went on with contestants for several hours before a winner was finally announced. There’s something incredible about an evocative and often emotional piece of poetry being read, not in the stillness and comfort of your home, but in front of a crowd of strangers that are giving you a rapt, and very specific attention.

Examples

Inferno by Dante

The Inferno is about the poet’s journey into Hell. Guided by the poet Virgil, Dante descends through the Nine Circles of Hell, eventually arriving at the center where Satan himself resides. After escaping Hell, Dante and Virgil will go on to Purgatory and then Dante will go on to Heaven.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Paradise Lost recreates the biblical story of the fall of man, starting with the first fall, that of a group of rebel angels in Heaven. Satan, one of God’s most cherished and powerful angels, grows angry when God creates the Son and proclaims that Son as leader.

Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

An aged Ulysses is frustrated with domestic life and yearns to set sail again and continue exploring the world. In Tennyson’s poem, there is nobility and heroism in Ulysses’ boundless curiosity and undaunted spirit.

How to Write Dramatic Poetry

Dramatic poetry is written in verse and is meant to be spoken or acted out, usually to tell a story or portray a situation. Most dramatic poetry is in the form of dramatic monologues, which are long speeches by one actor to another or the audience, or soliloquies, which are one’s thoughts spoken out loud, regardless of whether anyone hears them or not. 

Remember that in addition to the audience’s receival of the poetry being different, dramatic poetry differs from narrative poetry in that it is written and told by the perspective of the character, while narrative poetry is a story told by the narrator. 

Next Week

Now that we’ve gone over both narrative and dramatic poetry, we are going to take a closer look at lyric poetry. This is the style of poetry that is perhaps the most changed from its original form, and the most prevalent in today’s day and age, so I hope you’ll come back next week to find out more. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your favorite poetry subgenre?
  2. Do you have a favorite poet or poem?
  3. What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
  4. What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!

Click this link to hear this blog post as a podcast with your favorite podcasting app!

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