Simply put, form poetry is poetry that has been shaped into some sort of pattern. It could be the rhymes and their system of repetition, it could be the number of syllables in the poem. A few well known form poem styles are: villanelle; sonnet; rondeau; sestina; rondel and the acrostic.
Personally, I have a limited range of form poetry styles that I enjoy. My favourites are cinquain and most forms of Japanese poetry, such as haiku, shadorma and tanka to name a few. For me the beauty of those forms is to convey as much imagery as possible in a restricted number of syllables and lines.
Form poetry that I struggle to write is almost anything with meter and rhyming schemes. For some reason, the minute I see all those aba bcb cdc’s my brain reverts to foetal development stage.
Much form poetry can prove to be too complex for fledgling poets to master resulting in them giving up on their poetry endeavours before they have discovered the flexibility of writing free verse poetry.
The beauty of free verse is not that it doesn’t have rules, as many people believe. The beauty is that the poet makes up those rules for each and every poem. With free verse there is no pattern until the poet creates one. Free verse is not prose and prose should not be considered to be free verse. When it is well written, free verse will have a rhythm to it. Even it there is no dum-dee-dum-dee-dum type beat to it, there could be patterns of sound and repetition and the poet decides where to create stanzas and line breaks in order to achieve the rhythm.
Form or Free Verse?
Whatever the style, poetry remains poetry.