Last month I had the immense pleasure of attending a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania. I honestly thought the dream of taking one of their classes would remain a dream. After all, Pennsylvania isn’t exactly up the road from me. And let’s not forget that I’d be away for a full week, leaving my husband and daughter to fend for themselves.
I’m happy to report that the pets of our small zoo were alive when I returned home. However, the dog looked thinner from a lack of treats, the laundry hadn’t been taken care of, and confessions revealed that “snack night” replaced dinner a few times…
I drove up with a friend from my poetry critique group for a writing experience that changed the way I look at the world, poetry, and writing. Since the workshop, I have given myself much needed quiet time each day to rework past poems and begin new ones. And in addition to receiving valuable critiques and comments on my writing along with valuable insight, inspiration, and a fresh approach to writing, I left the class with the gift of new friendships.
For today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, I’m sharing a book of acrostic poetry. Acrostic poems are created when a word or phrase is written vertically down the page. interesting facts and clues about the subject comprise each line of the poem.
Title – African Acrostics: A word in Edgeways
Written by – Avis Harley
Photographs by – Deborah Noyes
Published by – Candlewick Press – 2009
Topics – children’s poetry, safari, African animals
Opening – The book opens with a poem that defines the acrostic poem.
Welcome, all poets — both new
Or well versed. Non-rhymers or
Drive in headfirst!
Inviting all writers —
Now you’re just the right age.
Explore the acrostic that rides
Down the page.
Get a word you
Enjoy and would like to define.
Write it down vertically
And fill in each line.
Your name is a very good way to begin.
Surprise yourself. Find that poem within!
If you read down the spine the poem (including the title), you’ll find four words that appear in the book’s title.
Amazon’s Review – View it HERE. Inside every acrostic is a secret message, often lurking in the first letter of each line (read top to bottom). But look out! These acrostics not only follow their subjects to Africa, but they also take the form to a whole new level. Here you’ll find the elusive double acrostic (in which the first and last letters of each line spell a message), the cross acrostic (in which the message is read diagonally), and the multiple acrostics (see it to believe it) — not to mention lions, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, leopards, and elephants. Oh, my! Illustrated with gorgeous full-color photographs, this collection is sure to send poetry buffs and animal lovers on an armchair safari they’ll never forget.
Back matter includes information about acrostics, nature notes, and a photographer’s note.
Why do I like this book? While at the Highlights Poetry Workshop, one of the writers specialized in acrostic poetry. I played with writing this form back in high school, but I never wrote in this style since. Then, while I was browsing the poetry shelves at my library yesterday, I pulled this book off the shelf and learned that other forms of acrostic poetry exist beyond the most common form (the subject reading down the left side of the poem). I discovered double acrostics in which a word is formed down both the left and right side as well as the cross acrostic in which the word appears diagonally. So much creativity in one magical book! Plus AMAZING photographs of the animals of Africa.
Just for fun – Try writing your own acrostic poem. You can start by writing your name down the left side of the page, a word that defines your personality, a favorite season and what it means to you, the name of your favorite animal or pet, a place you love to visit, or your favorite go-to snack. Then, brainstorm words or phrases that come to mind about your topic and fit them into this marvelous form of poetry. Remember, poems don’t need to rhyme.
Here are two of my acrostic poems with the title’s first letter being part of the word.
PERHAPS A POEM ABOUT POEMS (unrhyming)
Only the sweetest words
Magic I feel in my
Envies the birds with their wings spread in flight,
Soaring as high as a sky-sweeping kite.
Lifting from branches.
I hope you’ll take a moment in your day to write an acrostic poem. And if you feel brave enough, please share it in the comments.