Acrostic poems can be an ideal gateway into writing poetry. Because they simply combine the first letters of each line to spell a word, acrostics give you some guidance and structure without forcing you to follow a complex form. You don’t need to worry about rhythm and meter or even rhyming. All you need to start is one idea, and, of course, pen and paper.
What’s In a Name?
One activity to get you started with acrostic poems is to use the letters of a person’s name as your inspiration. You can use your own name and write a poem about yourself. You can also meet a friend, ask him some questions about himself, and use his name as the word in your acrostic. Write the name vertically on a piece of paper. Then, for each letter, come up with a word or phrase that starts with that letter and corresponds to your subject. You can even highlight or decorate the first letter of each line to make the acrostic word stand out.
Pick a Word, Any Word
Acrostics are not limited to a person’s name -- you can choose any part of speech or even a phrase. Try using a noun, which can be a type of person, such as “mother,” a place, such as “Paris,” or a thing, such as “soccer.” After choosing your noun, brainstorm a list of characteristics, thoughts or actions associated with your word. Arrange these ideas or rewrite them to fit the letters in your acrostic.
Sometimes your best ideas are the ones that pop into your head first. Rather than taking hours to write and seeking perfection, challenge yourself to write a poem within a short amount of time. Choose your acrostic poem topic and write the word or phrase down the side of a piece of paper. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start writing. You can revise your poem if you have a new idea or think rephrasing something will make your poem flow better, but make sure you don’t change the starting letter of each line.
Now that you’re a pro at writing acrostic poems, challenge yourself to write a double acrostic. These poems tend to work better with phrases rather than individual words. Write one phrase vertically down the left side of a piece of paper, and write the second phrase vertically in the middle of the paper; each phrase ideally should have the same number of letters. Write your poem, and be sure to continue your line all the way through the second acrostic phrase. The second acrostic phrase will be in the middle of each line of your poem.