African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways poems by Avis Harley, photographs by Deborah Noyes

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways, poems by Avis Harley and photgraphs by Deborah Noyes, is more than just a book of poems, it's a puzzle, too. Not only are there acrostics, there are double acrostics (the first AND last letter of each line), the cross acrostic, which you find by reading diagonally, and the multiple acrostic! For a great interview with Avis Harley, visit The Miss Rumphius Effect, a blog discussing poetry, children's literature and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers.

To start things off right, Harley begins with this poem:


Welcome all
poets - both new
Or well versed. Non-rhymers or
Rhymers! Come,
Dive in headfirst!

Inviting all writers -
Now you're just the right age.

Explore the acrostic that rides
Down the page.
Get at 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!

Did you see the acrostic? WORD IN EDGEWAYS! Very clever, the last line especially. Acrostic poems are a great way to get kids writing and get the creative juices flowing. Here are a few more inspire you!


Bat-eared fox and wind
In the stalks are
Given to conversation.

Ears such
As these can
Read any breeze, even
Sound out punctuation!


Now Listen to Me, Son

First, my fowl,
Avoid all humans, who only come
To gawk and giggle. They
Hanker for our ostrich plumes and
Envy how our swan necks wiggle.
Really! Have you seen those people-toes?
Little tiny things in rows! How they
Yearn for ones we've got: so down-to-earth,

And second, esteem your lot.
Drink in the
View! Wear lofty airs!
Implant upon your brow a scowl.
Colored feathers? Well, who cares-
Enjoy the gifts you've got, my fowl.


Eye to Eye

Ear sails flap in a breeze.
Leather limbs in rhythm
Evenly swaying in step
Plod slowly over Africa.
Huge as a dinosaur, yet
A tender soul from such
Noble mammoth alumni.
There is wonder abuzz
Staring into eyes so wise.

(I'll leave this one for you to figure out, but here's a hint - there's more than meets the eye!)

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