How to Write a Biographical Poem

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

As a poetry student, you may have had the chance to write a biographical poem. If not, this lesson will explain the format of a biographical poem so you can write one of your own!

What Is a Biographical Poem?

Of all the things to learn about in your English class, poetry can be one of the most exciting. Few literary forms offer so many different types and genres. For example, you can read or write couplets, quatrains, sonnets, limericks, haikus, tankas, acrostics, or elegies. One fun format is the biographical poem.

Just like a regular biography (a book written by an author about another person), biographical poems explain key details, characteristics, and personality traits about a person. Many biographical poems are written about famous or historical people, but they can also feature people the poet knows personally. Sometimes they describe fictional, or imaginary, characters.

Writing a Biographical Poem

Chances are, if you're learning about different poetic forms, your teacher is probably going to ask you to write one, too. If you're not sure how to write a biographical poem, don't panic! They follow a very simple formula that you can follow to write one of your own.

Biographical poems are only ten lines long, and each line requires a specific piece of information:

  • 1. first name of the person
  • 2. three to four adjectives or descriptive words about the person
  • 3. an important relationship for that person - 'Sister of...', 'Brother of...', 'Wife of...'
  • 4. three things the person loves - 'Lover of...' or 'Who loves...'
  • 5. one to three things the person has felt - 'Who needs...' , 'Who wants...', 'Who feels...'
  • 6. one to three things the person fears - 'Who fears...'
  • 7. three accomplishments or achievements
  • 8. two to three goals or ambitions - 'Who hoped to see...', 'Who wanted to see...', 'Who desired...'
  • 9. where they live - 'Living in...', 'Resident of...'
  • 10. last name of the person

Looks pretty simple, right? Let's take a look at a biographical poem in action!

Michael

Athlete, all-star, small forward

Husband of Yvette

Lover of basketball, free throws, and jump balls

Who wants to win, who desires to achieve, who needs to excel

Who fears mediocrity, losing, and disappointment

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