History That Never Was

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Poetry Forms: Acrostic

Acrostic poems are a fairly simple form–you spell out a word with the first letter of each line of your poem. But there are variations that can make the form more fun!

What if both the first letter of each line and the last letter of each line spell out two different words, or if the “hidden” message is multiple words that span those first and last letters? Other folks have done acrostic poems where only the first letter of each stanza is part of the message. And sometimes people use the first word of each line to make their message. I’ve even seen one that had to be read from bottom to top to find the hidden message!

There’s also a form of acrostic called an abecedarius, in which you use the letters of the alphabet in sequence to begin each line. I’ve seen another variation on this that used a QWERTY keyboard layout for the order of letters, and each word in the acrostic began with these letters in sequence.

The challenge of an acrostic is to make a poem that is still meaningful separate from the hidden message, but it can still be a fun form to play around with if you just want to stretch your brain a little bit!


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