Introduction and Description
Acrostics are one of the more commonly known poetry types--I was taught to write on of these in pre-school. For specific details on how they are written, see Shadow Poetry, Young Writers, or Poets.org. Amazingly this form of poetry dates all the way back to at least biblical times. Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145, part of Lamentations, as well as Proverbs 31:10-31 are acrostics (in Hebrew of course). More advanced versions of the acrostic can be produced by adding hidden words else where in the poem as well, such as at the end of the line or in the middle of the line. A particularly complex example can be seen in "Behold, O God!" by William Browne.
My Tips, Tricks, & Opinions
Feel free to comment below with your opinions and/or questions about this style.
Achieve the Unique
The coolest part of acrostic poems is the ability to hide messages within a message. Playing around with where the message is contained, doubling messages (such as repeating a word or phrase via both the first and last letters of a line) can be both fun and rewarding. Using more complex structures allows for more intricacy and deeper meanings in your poems.
But Lookout For...
The tricky part of acrostic poems--for me of course--is making sure the poem doesn't sound or feel juvenile. Often I find myself needing to use unnecessary words to maintain the structure or breaking lines at awkward places to ensure the next line starts with the correct word. It's probably best to stay away from words that contain letters which are hard to find at the beginning of words (like X). Including letters like this make it difficult to maintain the natural flow of the poem.
Why I Like It
Acrostic poems remind me of my childhood. The combination of their simplicity mixed with the possibilities for more complex poems represents the journey of growth in poetry to me. This translates in to the deeper meaning of the poem. I also love seeing people's reactions when they realize (usually they have to be told) that there is a message or a word spelled out within the poem. It's like a secret or a present for the readers who know to look.
Fun (June 5, 2014)
Future events waiting for
Us to explore
Non-stop, never-ending joy
Alphabetical Acrostic Example
A Thought (October 28, 2005)
Above all things in the world,
Beneath the hardships and pains of a girl,
Caress the tears that fall aside
Deep in the craters of a hard life.
Earn every step that you take, because
Frauds only add to the heartbreak—
Granted, there are no shortcuts—
Handle things with heart and soul, forIdle minds never reach their goal.
Justice waits for those it seeks,
Knee-deep in the pressures of each week.
Love the speckled wonders of the sky,
Mirror their glitter in your eye—
Notice the things around you, and
Openly confess the things you do.
Persevere when all is lost,
Quitters are left with only cost
Remember me, my fate, my struggles, my fears
Sing softly into my listening ears,
Tell me your secrets, joys and pains
Understand my need to break free of these chains.
Value me, no matter the cause
Without question, without thought or pause.
X-rays of feelings will emerge
Yearning hate and fear to surge
Zealously crying out their soft dirge.
- Ken Nesbitt. "How to Write an Acrostic Poem". Poetry 4 Kids; visited 2014
- Jonathan Went. "Studies on the Hebrew Alphabet: Acrostics". Biblical Hebrew; visited 2014
- Larry Nelson. "Psalms Chapter 119". Mechon Mamre; visited 2014
- Michael D. Marlowe. "Acrostics in the Hebrew Bible". Bible Research; visited 2014
- William Browne. "Behold, O God!". Wikipedia; visited 2014