Lena Kovadlo is a writer for various content-sharing websites. She's an author of 12 books and helps other authors publish theirs.
What is an Acrostic Poem?
An acrostic poem is a poem with a hidden word, phrase, or name spelled out by either letters, syllables, or words in each line of the poem.
The most common variation of this poem is when the first letter or first syllable of the first word of each line in the poem, or the first word itself, spells out a word, a phrase, or a name. There are other variations of this poetic style as well.
Variations of an Acrostic Poem
Here are the variations of an acrostic poem:
- Have last letter, last syllable, or last word of each line spell something out.
- Have a combination of first and last letter, syllable or word spell something out.
- Have the first letter of a middle word in each line spell something out.
- Have the middle word of each line spell something out.
- Have something spelled out diagonally. For example, start from the first letter of the first word in the first line followed by the first letter of the second word in the second line followed by the first letter of the third word in the third line, and so on...
Line 1 - Word 1 - First letter
Line 2 - Word 2 - First letter
Line 3 - Word 3 - First letter
Line n - Word n - First letter
- Have a variation of the format described in 4th bullet but instead of the first letter make it the first word.
Line 1 - Word 1
Line 2 - Word 2
Line 3 - Word 3
Line n - Word n
- There are many more variations you can create here. Get as creative and as complex as you'd like.
How to Write an Acrostic Poem?
Writing an acrostic poem is simple but can be a challenge. The easiest acrostic poem to write is one where the first letter of each line spells something out—be it a word, a phrase, or a name.
When writing this easiest type of acrostic poem simply first write out the word, phrase, or name by having each letter on its own line and making it bold. Then write your poem so that each line begins with the letters you have laid out on the page.
For example: if you were to write a poem that will spell out the word APPLE you will first write each letter of the word APPLE on its own line, in bold:
And then you will write your poem so that the first word of the first line starts with the letter A, the first word of the second line with the letter P ... and the first word of the fifth line with the letter E.
Now you can also have the word APPLE spelled out by last letter of each line, by the first letter of a middle word in each line, or diagonally.
Look at the picture below for better understanding.
Tips on Writing an Acrostic Poem
When writing an acrostic poem, no matter what variation it is, it is better to first spell out that word, phrase, or name and bold it before you start writing the poem. This will ensure that you will not make a mistake and leave out a letter or letters from whatever it is you want to spell out. And you will be able to check yourself once the poem is finished because each required letter will be in bold and easily found.
Also, when writing an acrostic poem it is better to have the poem be about that specific word, phrase, or name that you are spelling out. Of course you don't have to do that, if you don't want to.
Having said that, you can use an acrostic poem to write a hidden message that you only want certain people to know. In that case, you may decide not to bold the letters that spell out that special message and ask those certain people to figure out the message you want to relay to them.
Examples of an Acrostic Poem
Listen to the song
Inside your playful heart
Find nothing wrong
Enjoy life from the start
Journey to a place
Of beauty and of peace
Unlock your jailed face
Release yourself to bliss
Never let bad take over
Even when it’s near
You can make it sober
So make it disappear
An acrostic poem is a fun and creative poem that can also challenge your brain when you decide to spell something out in a complicated way.
If you haven't tried writing this type of poem I urge you to give it a try. You will enjoy this poetic form and will grow to love it over time, if not right away.
If you find yourself struggling with writing your first acrostic, don't worry, and most importantly don't give up and surrender. It gets easier with time. The more acrostics you write the better at it you'll get.
Learn about other poetry styles and forms...
- What is a Villanelle and How Do You Write One?
A villanelle is a poetic form. It is usually written in iambic pentameter and is comprised of six rhymed stanzas – the first five of which are made up of three lines, while the last is made up of four lines...
- What is a Limerick? How to Write a Limerick?
We often hear people talk about limericks but the word seems foreign to us and we wonder what is a limerick? And how do we write one? Learn about it here along with some interesting facts...
- Difference Between Freestyle, Free Verse, and Traditional Poetry
There are many different forms and styles of poetry you can write - free verse, freestyle, traditional, acrostic, limerick, narrative, etc. Learn about them here...
- Learn How to Write A Shakespearean Sonnet
Before you write a Shakespearean sonnet you have to become familiar with its structure and form. Learn how to write a Shakespearean sonnet here...
© 2012 Lena Kovadlo
Lena Kovadlo (author) from Staten Island, NY on February 24, 2020:
Acrostics are much easier to write than sonnets or even limericks.
Ben Desrosiers on February 24, 2020:
I am sure I did one once on one of your prompts, But I do not enjoy them,as the subject or titles at times can be some what hard to deal with. I will give it a try on some off them this week.
rauffray from BC, Canada on November 15, 2012:
Great information, Lena. I do like acrostic poems but I do not do them often. They are very easy if all one does is have the first letter of each verse spell out the desired word or concept, however, they are much more challenging when one adds rhyme and rhythm which I prefer to do. Thank you.
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 14, 2012:
Very useful, thank you. Most writers are not aware of the full potentials of this form of poetry.