Writing narrative poems

Home learning focus

Learn how to write narrative poetry.

This lesson includes:

  • three videos

  • three activities

Learn

A free verse poem is different to lots of other poems as it has no set rhyme or rhythm. Instead, they follow the natural rhythms of speech.

Watch this video to understand how free verse poems are different from lots of other types of poem.

What are free verse poems?

Narrative poems

Narrative means story and a narrative poem tells a story. Lots of poems are mainly about thoughts and feelings, so this is a key difference.

Many poems don’t have a narrative because they are often just about thoughts and feelings, instead of a story!

Key features of narrative poems

  • In a narrative poem, a story is told, but there is also rhythm and rhyme.

  • Rhythm and rhyme give the narrative energy so that it is more exciting.

  • Some narrative poems also contain repetition to add rhythm and make it more predictable.

Watch this video to learn more about narrative poems.

What are narrative poems?

Are narrative and free verse poems the same?

  • Free verse and narrative poems can sometimes seem similar, but they are not the same.

  • One key difference is that narrative poems often include some poetic devices such as rhyming, rhythm (by counting syllables) or repetition.

Stanzas

A stanza is a group of lines within a poem. A stanza is similar to a paragraph. Just like a paragraph, they contain related information and introduce new thoughts or ideas.

Key features of stanzas

  • Poems can contain a number of stanzas. They are separated by missing a line.

  • Like all poems, stanzas can rhyme, but they do not have to.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Check your understanding. Listen to the two poems below. Can you identify which poem is a free verse poem and which is a narrative poem?

Poem 1 – First Day at School by Roger McGough.

Poem 2: - Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen.

Super challenge

Write down some of your ideas about each poem:

  • what you enjoyed
  • what you would improve
  • examples of repetition
  • examples of rhyming
  • explain why one of the poems is a free verse poem

Activity 2

It’s your turn! Write your very own narrative poem OR free verse poem.

Top tip!

If you can’t think of a subject to write about, or would like to see an example of free verse and narrative poems, have a look at this sheet.

Free verse and narrative poetry worksheet

Remember:

  • A free verse poem has no rhyme, rhythm or repetition.

  • A narrative poem tells a story, but it has rhythm, rhyme and repetition – just like a poem.

  • Separate each new idea by using stanzas.

  • It’s ok to make mistakes! Experimenting with words, editing and redrafting are all part of the writing process.

Activity 3

Once you have written your awesome free verse or narrative poem, try performing it to a member of your family or a friend.

For tips on how to perform poems in an interesting or exciting way, watch this video:

Playing with words with Joseph Coelho.

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt to write narrative poetry.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about writing poetry:

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