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How to Write Acrostic Poems

by Bruce Lansky

I've never been all that impressed by most acrostic poems offered as examples in poetry workbooks because they're usually so boring. They often are based on a child's name. For example:

Joe

Jolly
Outgoing
Excellent

Notice that this poem doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't tell a story. However, poems like this are easy to write and they have the potential to boost a child's self esteem.

But, if you must teach your students how to write acrostic poems, why not provide them with some examples that will make them smile and get their creative juices flowing, like these:

Garbage

Grounds (coffee)
Apple (core)
Rinds (mellon)
Banana (peel)
Anchovies (from a pizza I wouldn't eat)
Grapes (too ripe to eat)
Emptying the stinking bag (my job)

Bruce Lansky © 2002

Candy

Charleston Chew
Almond Roca
Nestle's Crunch
Dots from Mason
Yummy

Bruce Lansky © 2002

Notice that both of these poems tell a story. In the first, the speaker knows what's in the garbage bag because it's his unpleasant duty to empty the bag when it's full. In the second, it's quite possible the speaker has candy on the brain and would spend his last quarter at a candy store or movie theatre.

Writing the "Candy" acrostic poem got me thinking. Here's a short rhyming poem that just popped into my head.

Candy

Cherry Twizzlers
Mason Dots
At the movies
I eat lots.

Nestle's Crunch
Almond Roca
Buying candy
Keeps me broke-a

Bruce Lansky © 2002

Oops, it just happened again. Another candy poem popped into my head:

On Halloween

Hershey Chocolate, Nestle's Crunch
on Halloween I get a bunch.
Mother says my teeth will rot.
So I eat them where she's not.

Bruce Lansky © 2002

Well, now you know why I'm not a big fan of acrostic poems. But one good think I can say for them--writing one often leads one to write other (more interesting) poems.

--Bruce Lansky


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