Monday, April 20, 2009

Poetry Month -- Acrostics

Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic
by Stephen Schnur
illustrated by Leslie Evans
Clarion Books, 1999

I've written before about my pet peeve with acrostics: most teachers allow children to write a word vertically down their page, write a word that starts with each of the letters, and call it a poem. In my mind, a poem needs to say something, not just be a list of words. That's why Stephen Schnur's Alphabet Acrostic books have been key mentor texts in my classroom for modeling acrostics that say something.

Interestingly, Stephen Schnur does not think of himself as a poet. I learned this when he was featured at Miss Rumphius' Poetry Makers series this month.
"Though some have called my acrostic books poetry, I think of them as word play, as solutions to problems of verbal geometry."
Verbal geometry. I like that. Maybe that's what all of poetry is, after all. Schnur gives himself an additional challenge in his four seasonal acrostic books by making them alphabet books as well.

Here is one of my favorite spring acrostics by Stephen Schnur:

Green leaves overhead, a
Rug of green underfoot,
And the air between
Sweet with the green
Smell of spring.


  1. I too despise the "list approach" to writing acrostics. I love these books precisely for the reason that they make you see how terrific acrostic poetry can be.

  2. You introduced this book to me a year (or so) ago -- thanks! I use it all the time as a mentor for good acrostic poetry.

  3. I love these books and have also used them for several years to teach "acrostic" poems with connected meaning. I love "verbal geometry"!


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