The Narrative Poem


Don’t you just love writing narrative poems…spinning a good yarn? The great part about writing any poetry is it is considered fiction. You can stick to the truth, embellish facts or just make the whole thing up.


Very early poets wrote epic narrative poetry, telling the story of human existence. We still do that today.  Most poets, traditional or modern, have written at least a few



If you think about the poems you remember from youth, many will be narratives. You remember the story lines—plots, characters, and settings told in a secession of riveting events, but not necessarily in order. And unlike prose, narrative poems contain poetic elements.


Who doesn’t remember “The Raven” with its haunting repetition; “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” with marching cadence; the drumbeat of “Hiawatha” as the story unfolds; and today, Billy Collins’s free verse narrative “On Turning Ten. Whole stories told in brief poetic lines and verses. These human interest tales use powerful imagery, a mastery of language and great use of imagination… all elements that make poetry memorable. Can you still recite some lines read in childhood?


Next time you find your muse missing…think narrative. Take a piece of family history, a picture, a happening, or think of an ancestor you’ve heard a little about, and make the story real, believable… make it your own.  Important!!! Do not lapse into prose. Keep poetic elements, rhythm and/or rhyme going.  Brevity keeps the tension up. And my personal mantra…go easy on the adjectives.


Good Luck!   Molly Saty





 Spokane Authors 

& Self-Publishers

Page revised 04/22/07 BSC