What is an acrostic poem? What sets an acrostic poem apart from other types of poetry and how is an acrostic poem written? In this post, we will be answering all of the questions and taking a look at a few examples of acrostic poems. Let’s get started with an acrostic-poem definition.

What is an Acrostic Poem

Let’s define acrostic poem

If you are interested in poems of all types, then be sure to check out our writer’s guide to poetry. And, if you encounter any other unfamiliar writing terms, our screenwriter’s vocabulary guide is a great resource to look things up.


What is an acrostic poem?

An acrostic poem is a style of poetry in which certain letters from the poem spell out a name, word, or even an entire phrase that may or may not be related to the content of the poem. It is typically the first letter of each line that spells out the word or phrase, and the poem is typically arranged to spell out the word vertically, but these are not mandatory rules for a poem to be considered acrostic.

Acrostic Poem Characteristics: 

  • Individual letters from different lines spell something else
  • Typically the first letter of each line
  • Typically arranged to spell the word or phrase vertically

Good Acrostic Poems

Acrostic poem examples

The acrostic poem is one of the simplest types of poetry but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun to read or create. Let’s start with a lesson on acrostic poems aimed at children, who are usually the target demographic of this kind of poetry.

Acrostic poem lesson and examples  •  define acrostic poem

Now, let’s look at a few more complicated examples. Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll was a fan of acrostic poetry and created a number of them in this lifetime. This passage of Carroll’s is an acrostic poem that spells out the full name of the little girl that the titular Alice in Wonderland was based on.

An acrostic poem by Lewis Carroll

An acrostic poem by Lewis Carroll  •  acrostic poem examples

Edgar Allen Poe also dabbled in acrostics. The poem below spells out the name Elizabeth, as this was who the poem was written for.

An acrostic poem by Edgar Allen Poe

An acrostic poem by Edgar Allen Poe  •  how to write an acrostic poem

A more complex version of the acrostic poem is known as a double acrostic or is sometimes called shadow poetry. In a double acrostic, the first letters of each line spell out a word, and the last letters of each line also spell out a word. The words can be different or the same, as is the case in this acrostic title Shroud from Paul Hansford.

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.

A double acrostic by Paul Hansford

Next, let’s go over how to write an acrostic poem if you feel like giving it a shot yourself. If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out our creative writing prompts.

How to Write an Acrostic Poem

How to write an acrostic poem

To write an acrostic poem, you must choose the name, word, or phrase you wish to spell out using letters from each line first, before writing the lines themselves. If we wanted to make an acrostic poem out of the word poem for example, we would start by arranging arranging the letters of poem vertically, as so:





Then proceed to fill out each line, as so:





How to write an acrostic poem  •  What is an Acrostic Poem

Keep in mind that these examples are about as simple as you can get. When making your own acrostic poems, feel free to try and make them as complex as possible. You could even try to code messages by hiding the spelled-out phrase somewhere within the lines instead of as the first letter of each line.

If you are up for a greater challenge, try your hand at a double acrostic and spell out different words with the first and last letters of each line.


Writer’s Guide to Poetry

You now know everything you need to know about acrostic poems, but there are many other types of poetry. The acrostic poem is just one of a large assortment of poem styles. Learn all about the different types of poetry, what a poem is at its core level, the history of poetry, and more, up next.

Up Next: Writer’s Guide to Poetry →
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  • Sam Kench is an internationally-awarded screenwriter, independent filmmaker, and film critic. Lover of foreign films; hater of American remakes.

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