The Magic Dragon loves poetry. It is especially fond of all the hay(na)ku, quincouplets, and diamantes that its readers sent in as responses to our “Write It” articles. It is also quite fond of word games and puzzles.
So, the Dragon has asked me to talk with you about how to write a new kind of poem: the acrostic poem, which is a poem with a kind of puzzle. Most acrostics have a form in which the initial letter of each line spells out a word.
Some of you may already be familiar with this form, since many teachers use it in school as an introduction to poetry. They ask you to write your name from top to bottom of a page like this:
Then they tell you to write a word, phrase, or sentence starting with each of the letters in your name. Each line should also tell something about you: what you like, what you do, who you are. For example
Beat my brother at video games
Really good at math
Ice cream cones are my favorite dessert
And I love to read scary books.
No one catches me when I run.
And ta dah! You have a simple poem that doesn’t require counting syllables or coming up with rhymes.
However, not all acrostic poems are so simple. There are many, many variations on the form. Instead of having your vertical (up-down) word be the starting letters of the poem, it can also be the middle letters of your poem or the end letters, like this:
The sun riseS
pushing back the darK
awakens the daY
She Cuddles in my lap
She wAshes with her tongue and paws
Sometimes she chases her Tail
If you really like difficult puzzles, try writing an acrostic that has both a beginning and an ending vertical word! Or harder yet, try doing one with a beginning, middle, and ending vertical word. Wow! You really have to be a puzzle master as well as a poet for those complicated acrostics!
Still another way to write acrostic poems is to use vertical words instead of letters, like this: Take a proverb or saying and put each word on a separate line. For example use the phrase: “Have a nice day” as your vertical words and then write your poem:
Have fun with a walk in the woods,
A light breeze whispering in your ears.
Nice thoughts dancing behind your eyes.
Day after day will write poems on your heart.
Again, you have a simple poem about ways in which you can “have a nice day.” As with acrostics that use letters, you can also write more complicated word acrostics, using ending words or middle words for your poem. Or you can use two or more combinations of vertical words.
Try writing some simple acrostic poems, then try writing some more difficult ones. Send copies of them to Magic Dragon, who will love reading all of them. We may even publish some for others to read.