Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Epic Poetry

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic. This year, my second year with A to Z, I’ll cover thirty more writing genres (I covered thirty last year!).

Today’s genre:

Epic Poetry


Epic Poetry: a long, narrative poem usually about heroic deeds and events that are significant to the culture of the poet. Many ancient writers used epic poetry to tell tales of intense adventures and heroic feats.

Tipsa to z

  1. The setting is vast, covering many nations, the world or the universe.
  2. Choose an epic hero.
  3. Charge him with a task.
  4. Include three phases: exile, journey, and return home.
  5. Feature long and formal speeches.
  6. Show divine intervention on human affairs.
  7. Feature heroes that embody the values of the civilization.
  8. Often feature the tragic hero’s descent into the underworld or hell.
  9. Include catalogs and genealogies–long lists of objects, places, and people intended to place the finite action of the epic within a broader, universal context.
  10. Display heavy use of repetition or stock phrases.

Popular Books

  1. Aeneid by Virgil
  2. Beowulf by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
  3. The Cantos by Ezra Pound
  4. Divine Comedy  by Dante Alighieri
  5. Gilgamesh (no author–2500 BCE)
  6. The Iliad by Homer
  7. John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benét
  8. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton
  9. The Prelude by William Wordsworth
  10. The Song of Roland

Click for complete list of  2018 A to Z genres

More A Genres:

  1. Essay

If you’re doing the AtoZ Challenge, please add your name and blog address to this interactive list. I’ll be sure to visit you each day.


If you’d like to help with my book launch in June, please sign up at this link.


If you’d like to subscribe to my Writing Tips, Book Reviews, and More newsletter, sign up here.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

69 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Epic Poetry

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Epistolary | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: A Month of Poetry | WordDreams...

  3. Pingback: The UK’s National Poetry Day — Oct. 1st | WordDreams...

  4. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Early American | WordDreams...

  5. Back to school with this one, back to college. Don’t think I’ll tackle Homer again (thank heaven for more contemporary versions) but we had much fun reading Beowulf aloud in the old English version. I think Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is considered an epic poem even though it’s told from many voices and perhaps few heroes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jacqui – essay is more in my line! My posts might be epic occasionally = but won’t fall into the ‘deserved to be kept’ epic type!! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the closest I got to epic poetry was ‘The Niobe Poems’, which may not qualify by definition. We had to write a report on it in a poetry college course. Interesting post Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jacqui,

    I’d be happy just to write a poem, forget an epic one! lol Poetry is trick for me. I think it has to rhyme all the time but I’ve noticed many people don’t follow that rule. Poetry is like several snippets bundled together to convey one’s emotions which I find hard to make my own but then sometimes I’m surprised when a poem just falls out of my brain onto my blog. Thanks for the pointers and visit!

    Curious as a Cathy
    A2Z Creating iPad Art Sketches “E” – Eyes

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dear Jacqui,
    I was wondering why you don’t list “The Song of the Nibelungs”, the Icelandic Sagas and “The Kalevala”? And why the Iliad but not the Odyssey?
    “John Browns Body” – I have never heard of it but I am specialised on classic and middle eval literature. I always taught my students to have a look at Joseph Campbells “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” to understand the epic texts.
    By the way, I would see Star Wars as a modern epic. Actually, quite a lot of modern film productions are inspired by the well known epic literature you mention.
    Anyway, thanks a lot for making your readers interested in the great epic texts.
    All the best
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t heard of any that you mentioned–yikes! I did a Google search to augment my personal knowledge so that’s where the list came from. Odyssey–absolutely. In fact, I should have mentioned them both.

      I’m not sure Star Wars or other films would qualify because this particular genre is epic poems. You may know this area better than I though as it is your teaching specialty.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. When I did my BA in English, we had to read most of those. They are difficult to write which is why so many examples are thousands of years old.

    One important reason to read these classics is that much of Western literature and story telling find their roots in these poems.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. We had to study Paradise Lost at school for our tertiary entrance exam, but I don’t remember it ever being called epic poetry. I think when you have to analyse every word any enjoyment is lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting. But you make a good point. I think some of these could be considered other genres, depending upon how you look at them. Since Epic Poetry is not well-known, I can see Paradise Lost being categorized differently.


  12. Love this Jacqui. I’m not actually a big poetry buff. Unfortunately school put me off way back with forced double ups of Thomas Hardy’s Trumpet Major AND his poetry works. At the time it was just not me at all.

    Epic poetry is a different beast, when I saw your title I was of with Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came. These were first exposed to me by Iron Maiden (former) and Kings Dark Tower. Since then epic poetry has gripped me. I’ll check out some of your referrals now. I know I’ve not read at least three.

    Excellent topic!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Excellent post Jacqui – all the points make me keen to get into some epic poetry. It has ALL the ingredients. Especially I like tips #4, exile, journey, return home … But I like them all, except maybe for #10. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I hadn’t clued in that epic poetry is about the hero’s journey, and I didn’t know any of the tips that you mention. I clearly need to be reading some epic poems. I’ll put it on my long list of things I’m inspired to do as a result of this A-Z challenge! Thanks, Jacqui.

    E is for (The) End of Absence

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.