Question poems seek answers and reveal themes.
Question poems seek answers and reveal themes.

A question poem is a series of questions arranged poetically; that is, each question forms a line or stanza. It may be rhymed verse, blank verse -- rhythm without rhyme -- or free verse -- no rhyme or rhythm. You have a theme you want to convey to the reader, and the question format is an excellent method to convey that theme.

Methods for Question Poetry

Study question poetry such as John Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" or the ballad "The Unquiet Grave." In "La Belle", the first three stanzas depict a questioner asking a knight why he is despairing; the remaining stanzas are the answer, describing the -- possibly unreal -- woman the knight lost. In "Unquiet," a living man and his dead lover argue his potential suicide; she talks him out of it, revealing she has no feelings for him. Both poems demonstrate the changeable nature of love in a question and answer format.

Arrange your questions in order of importance, ending with the most vital one, the one that tells your truth. If you write the poem as a question series, consider this example: a child begins with "Why is the sky blue?" "Why is it angry?" "Why is it so hot?" and ends with "Why don't grownups do something?" The point of the poem is to raise awareness of global warming through a child's questions.

Q and A poetry follows the Keats and ballad examples, interchanging information by line or by stanza. The child asking global warming questions might be answered by an adult saying "I don't know." Your poem achieves another layer: most of us don't care about the answers. The rhetorical method also works well here: begin with "I wonder about this problem" and end with "I wonder if anyone else does."