April is National Poetry Month. Whether you are a serious poet or just someone who dabbles like I occassionally do, this Writer’s Digest post includes thirty-seven key terms that will help you know what everyone else is talking about. Of course, if you are a serious poet, you probably know most of them.
Rhyme, rhythm, and stanza I already knew but another term I’ve frequently seen, but never seen defined, is chapbook. If you write for children, that sounds a lot like chapter book, a type of book for newly confident readers who can handle chapters but still need fairly direct, straightforward text.
In poetry, a chapbook is a small book of approximately 24 to 50 pages. Not what the “chap” stands for but when I looked deeper into it I found that they are also called brochures or pamphlets. Traditionally they were stitched but they can also be stapled and generally have a paper stock cover. They are often themed and have kind of a DIY feel so if you have the urge to try self-publishing something you might want to study up on chapbooks. You can read more about chapbooks here and here.
A lot of other poetry terms, including anapest and dactyl, have to do with stressed and unstressed syllables. Then there are the terms that have to do with sounds other than rhyme — assonance and consonance, for example.
If you only dabble, you may not feel the need to know all of these terms but if you write picture books it is important to know about word play and how to make your story a fun read-aloud experience. That means poetry. You may not need each and every one of these words to know if your piece “works” but an editor or other critiquer may use one of these terms to explain why your rhythym is off.
This list made it obvious that I have a whole lot to learn. I have to say that I knew only about 25% of the terms but now I have a good source for new things, including chapbooks, that I want to learn more about.