Acrostics needn’t be simple letters at the beginning of each line of a poem. They can also be complex and a challenge to any poet.
A double acrostic (also known as shadow poetry) is one of those challenging poetry forms. It not only spells a word with the letters at the beginning of its lines, but with letters at the very end of the lines as well. Here is an example, Stroud by Paul Hansford, he uses the first and last letter of each line to spell the same word: Stroud.
Set among hills in the midst of five valleys,
This peaceful little market town we inhabit
Refuses (vociferously!) to be a conformer.
Once home of the cloth it gave its name to,
Uphill and down again its streets lead you.
Despite its faults it leaves us all charmed.
—by Paul Hansford
The first letters make up the acrostich and the last letters the telestich; and in this case they are identical. Another challenge comes with creating a similar theme with each of your words. It doesn’t have the same effect if you’re writing about love in the first letters and have your last letters spell “refrigerator.”
Try It: Shadow Poetry
Try your hand at writing a double acrostic. Either word can be written top to bottom, or bottom to top. You can even spell one word top to bottom, and write out the other word bottom to top on the right side. This style can be a mind-bender, so dig deep and make sure your pencil is sharp.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a recent acrostic poem from Monica we enjoyed:
Very expensive pigments painted into a pearl
earring; a milkmaid’s tilted pitcher; a girl with
a red hat, wide and feathery. There’s the young
woman at her music lesson, her back to us, yet
in the mirror we see more. A rare outdoor scene:
View of Delft with a bridge, two gates, a clock
showing the hour of seven—one stroke in time.
—by Monica Sharman
Photo by Mark Spearman. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland