How to Create a Poem From the Letters of Your Name
Poetry is a creative process, and the medium for this process is words. The letters of your name provide a great resource for gathering words. These letters are familiar to you and inspire themes of identity. Incorporate a tactile element in the creative process by using letter tiles to engage multiple senses. A multisensory approach to writing helps you to make connections between words, ideas and emotions.
Use Letter Tiles
Before writing your poems, make letter tiles out of cardstock, or gather tiles from word games. Stock up on these by combing yard sales and thrift stores for discarded games. Gather the tiles that contain the letters of your name. You now have something to work with. By using letter tiles, the poet engages multiple senses. Besides the obvious visual prompt, the tiles provide a tactile experience. The sound the tiles make when they snap or clack together provides an auditory stimulus as well.
Write an Acrostic
An acrostic is the most recognized type of poem you can write using the letters of your name. In an acrostic poem, the letters of a word are each placed on a single line at the left margin, in this case, the letters of your name. Think of words and phrases that describe you that begin with each of these letters. For instance, for the name “Linda,” the poem could contain lines such as “lovable / independent / near to friends / dependable / alive.”
Another way to form an acrostic is to rearrange the letters of your name and apply them to different aspects of yourself. For instance, assign different themes to your poem. Rearrange the letters of your name and use them to inspire words and phrases that describe how you feel today. Rearrange them again to inspire words that recall childhood memories. Rearrange them a third time to inspire words that symbolize things you hope for. The options are endless. If this exercise is for a classroom, students can use the letters of their names to recall elements of a social studies or science lesson, such as words relating to the Civil War or things found in the ocean.
Make a Word Bank
A poet needs words. Use the letters of your name to generate a word bank. Scramble your letter tiles and rearrange them to make words. For instance, the letters in the name “Jaqueline Smith” can be rearranged to come up with these words: quite, quiet, just, smile, main, thin, nice and minute. Once you have created a word bank, incorporate these words into various poetry forms, for example, a couplet, which contains two lines that rhyme. Try a haiku, which contains three lines: the first containing five syllables, the second seven, and the third five. If you prefer freedom from form and convention, write a free verse poem, which disregards any rules of meter and rhyme.
Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.