Acrostic Poems

acrosticSo what is an ‘acrostic poem’? If you don’t know, you’ll recognize the form the moment you see it. Basically, an acrostic poem is one that uses the letters that spell out a word as the first letter for each line. The other part of the acrostic poem is that each line somehow describes or expresses an idea related to the ‘theme’ word of the poem. The acrostic poem is usually more free-form in nature — no specific rhyming or rhythm scheme. The goal of the poem is to associate words or ideas with a keyword or phrase. These types of poems have a variety of uses. Some are written with a marketing theme in mind, helping potential buyers to remember the value of the item being advertises. Some poets use the acrostic poem just as a fanciful or creative form, which forces them into a pattern about the topic being presented. It’s an art form unto itself. Quite often, the publisher of such poems embellishes the first letter of each line with a fancy font or graphic design. Such poems may be a collection based on a larger theme, whether it is related to a season, a holiday, a specific person or even pets. Its applications are endless.

Spring
by Angel Jones

Any teacher will tell you that using an acrostic poem is one of the best mnemonic devices available for helping students to remember important details about their lessons. Perhaps the first acrostic-style poem is one where the child recites the letters of the alphabet followed by a word that begins with that letter: “A is for apple, B is for bug . . .” and so on. Later on, students can use acrostic poems written by their teachers to help them remember some facts. Once students understand the idea, then they can begin writing their own acrostic style poems. This guides them as they explore the theme of their lesson, helping them stay on topic as well as allowing them to be creative. The assignment often involves adding pictures, drawings, calligraphy, and colorful borders and such. All of this helps to encourage and develop higher-order thinking, which most educators consider the ultimate goal of most education. And of course, such poems are an excellent idea for writing something thoughtful for Mother’s Day or similar holiday.

Mother’s Day
by Janie King

The use of the acrostic style poem is not, however, relegated to the elementary school classroom. Many well respected and popular poets have used the acrostic in their collections. For instance, Edgar Allan Poe, author of such well known macabre poems as The Raven, made use of this form. The poem Elizabeth was apparently written regarding one of his cousins. The name Elizabeth was very common in his family, as both his mother and his grandmother shared that name.

An Acrostic
by Edgar Allan Poe

Acrostics can be quite entertaining, both for the poet and for the reader. Perhaps you might try your own hand at creating an acrostic poem. But don’t cheat! There are many programs on the internet today that will do the work for you, but the real pleasure of acrostics poems is the challenge of solving the puzzle.



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