Friday, April 18, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Acrostics That Say Something

One of my pet peeves: people who write a word or name vertically, write the first word that comes to mind that starts with each letter of the vertical word, AND THEN CALL IT A POEM!! (Even pricklier pet peeve: teachers who TEACH that such a form is a poem!!)

I was a stickler about this week's poems. No off-the-cuff first drafts were accepted. Before I ever introduced the poetry form for the week, we listed a bunch of qualities we admire in people, then they picked one and did some kind of brainstorming about that quality (a web or list of words and/or phrases). Then I shared some examples from Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Stephen Schnur, and we studied how he makes his poems say something or show us something about the key word without ever using that word in the poem.

As I said, I was a stickler this week. I sent poems back for revision, for removal of repetitious language, for being a list of words or unconnected phrases. But I think it was worth it. Here are a few of the best:

Someone I know
Truly has heart.
Remembers to respect
Each other in her path.
Not angry, just says what she means.
Gathering everybody
To teach, and to
Help all the others.

Fake farts are really hilarious. He
Uses rubber chickens. He makes
Nice jokes,
Not mean jokes.
You laugh when you're near him.

Readers are almost always reading
Everywhere, at
Any time. Some readers oddly read the
Dictionary, and even the
Encyclopedia. Others usually just
Read chapter books.

Kind of person that
Is respectful,
Never will they
Do something that is
Not respectful.
Exactly the
Serious friend
Somebody needs.

Round up this week is at The Well-Read Child.


  1. These are wonderful! I agree; your calls for revision produced better poems.

  2. Well done, you!
    The hardest thing for me to learn in writing, and in turn, to teach? Revision. I didn't get good at it until graduate school, really, and it makes me cringe to think of the things I turned in that could have been better. DEFINITELY keep at it; start 'em early!

    I have to laugh at the 'FUNNY' poem that begins 'fake farts are really hilarious.' Ah, grade school...

  3. Mary Lee,

    It's evident you made your students really think about what they were writing...about what they were trying to say with their poems.

    I have all of Schnur's acrostic books. Do you have SILVER SEEDS by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer? It's a really fine book of acrostic poems.

  4. Thank you for your comments on acrostic "poems"! And what a fantastic way to teach revision. I'm linking to this in my blog, if you don't mind, and stealing the ideas! I have no shame!

  5. Anonymous11:49 AM

    That first one's about you, isn't it?

    They're all great. Good for everyone that you stuck to your guns about careless work.

    By the way, your last post: I'm a question mark, too. I have yet to meet a comma to befriend, though...

  6. Ooo I really like the first one. Wonder who she meant? I am so glad you were a stickler and sent them back for revision. You truly had heart. Just the kind of teacher we all need!

  7. writer2b, I think that first poem's about Mary Lee, too, and it couldn't be more perfect.

    And I'm with TadMack on "Funny." Best use of "fake farts" in a poetic context to date. And it proves that you don't have to revise the voice out of a poem; you have to justify your choices. I swear, Mary Lee, if several major poets don't come out of your classes, something's not right with the world...

  8. Anonymous2:50 PM

    These are soooo heartfelt. Including the fake farts. That is where the laughs live at that age...
    And revision? Bless you, Mary Lee...

  9. Talk about high quality work! You can pat yourself on the back because this was no easy task for students to understand how to accomplish this. They are beautiful writers....just beautiful.

  10. Your comments really made my day! Thanks for the votes of confidence!

    I'm glad you loved the fake farts as much as I did!

    Not sure if the first one's about me. Author didn't say, and I thought it might be presumptuous to ask. I'd be quite honored if it is!

    I'll look for SILVER SEEDS -- can't ever have too many mentor texts with acrostics that SAY something!

  11. A year of reading is in my bookmark Mary Lee. I have been learning from you a lot! I guess you just didn't know Thanks for sharing in your blog. Thanks for taking the time to do this!


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