Type of poem: New York Style
Set up: Frank O'Hara talks in a confidential tone as if to a friend
What holds it together? The poem is a chain of associations around a theme or question.
Type of poem: 17th century poem of seduction
Set-up: John Donne argues to an imaginary woman that they should sleep together.
What holds it together? The poem riffs on a central conceit, usually a bizarre image, connecting it to politics, art, religion, and sex.
Type of poem: Postmodern mythic style
Set up: Robert Duncan "receives" a series of images and ideas.
What holds it together? The poem is a chain of associations and allusions relating to a theme.
Type of poem: 1950s-style confessional poem
Set up: Lowell, Plath, or Sexton describe a life emotion, maybe tied up with a recognizable event of life, such as aging or divorce.
What holds it together: Generally the poem is centered around a single image or cluster of related images.
Type of poem: Romantic ode
Set up: The poet recalls a past memory, usually involving nature, thinks of his/her present self, and tries to resolve it with the past.
What holds it together? The poem is centered around a central philosophical question.
Type of poem: Yeatsian reflective poem
Set up: The poet ponders a question, often having to do with an image of eternity juxtaposed against an image of mortal life.
What holds it together? Like an essay, the poem mentions a lot of things, but it is all in the attempt to answer the basic question.
Type of poem: Beat
Set up: The beat poet, writing in the immediate present to a metronome-like beat, says whatever comes to mind, often of a provocative character.
What holds it together? The poem is a stream of associations but is usually built around a topic of sorts: for example, Kenneth Koch's "Underpants," Gregory Corso's "Marriage," Diane di Prima's "I Get My Period."
Type of poem: High Modernist
Set up: Poets such as Eliot often depict scenes of modern life and juxtapose traditional mythic, folkloric, and literary elements.
What holds it together? Readers of "The Waste Land," a vast collage, may say nothing!, but the modernist poem has a consistent theme of the loss of social structure.