Tuesday Tryouts: The Simplest of Form Poems: The Acrostic

05 Apr

9:22 am — Atlanta

Hello all. It is time to delve into structure; not that you have not written poems without structure. Every poem contains structure of some sort, even free verse. All the free means is we aren’t following a conventional structure. If you have been with me a while then you might remember the imagistic poems, the 8×10, and the past few weeks with the dialogue poems. These are all structured although they have no name, such as: Acrostic.

Now, I heard a collective groan as you read the word acrostic. That will be because you are thinking of the simple form where a word, often your name, is taken, written vertically and words applied to each letter, that have something to do with the word:

Of prompts

There we have an example of a short line acrostic. Easy. Go ahead, try it — your name, your pet’s name, a planet…Do note that I wrote an acrostic a shade more sophisticated than the ones we wrote in our early years. My words work together.

Then we have the long line acrostic. Much more sophisticated and fun to do. If you create a good one, no one will notice the acrostic. This is the example I received in a class many years ago and which I suspect was created by its teacher, my friend James Penha:

Sunday my ancient aunt with knots for brows
Prepares mountains of meatballs
And chicken livers in sautéed
Garlic, olive oil, and onion
Heated ’til wrinkled brown–
Together she
Tosses as life has tossed her
In a pile of pasta every Sunday.

The content of the poem describes the word which runs down the left hand side: spaghetti. Ah! you perked up. This might be fun, yes? So try a few of the long line acrostics looking for thematic/topical connections between vertical and horizontal words.

Do leave a link in the comments, or the entire acrostic, if you achieve one. I would love to see the results.

And, as this is National Poetry Month, and some of you are going nuts trying to write a poem a day, I shall leave it there for this week and show you a couple of variants, next Tuesday. If you are writing a poem a day. let me remind you the poems can be short and the poems are all drafts. They do not have to be good. Okay? Feel better? Good.

I will see you Thursday for a discussion of fluff words in writing; and, Friday for the wrapup of the week’s prompts and exercises from around the poetry world. If you haven’t yet checked out my poetry giveaway, you might do so and sign up if you wish to try for one of the books. Happy writing.

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Posted by on 05/04/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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9 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: The Simplest of Form Poems: The Acrostic

  1. hairyprincess

    12/04/2011 at 9:40 am

    Funny that I should stumble across this today, I posted an acrostic just a few days ago! I found it great fun to write. You can see it here:

    • margo roby

      12/04/2011 at 10:21 am

      I left a comment with the poem!

    • margo roby

      29/11/2011 at 9:22 am

      As you already have 22 comments, princess, I am replying here. You have the talent for long line acrostics and that makes this form fun for both writer and reader. Even knowing it was a long line acrostic, I had to look for the word. Good to see you here.


  2. vivinfrance

    29/11/2011 at 9:15 am

    I shall try. That’s all I’m promising.

    • margo roby

      29/11/2011 at 9:18 am

      I know, ViV. I know. I just need to see your face and I’m good. A poem is bonus.


  3. tmhHoover

    30/11/2011 at 4:13 pm

    I was checking out Annette’s response over on Hoofprints in my Garden. So I popped over. ( I confess I did not come by yesterday… I am so busy.) Anyway this is what I wrote – I should say it wrote itself. Someday I will be bright and cheery-

    Thanks for the prompt Margo.

    • margo roby

      30/11/2011 at 4:18 pm

      Teri, I was not bright and cheery for years. Glad you popped over. I know everyone is so busy right now.



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