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Poetry Forms - How To Write A Mesostic Poem

Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

John Cage The Inventor

American composer John Cage invented the mesostic some years ago. He derived it from the well known acrostic form.

It seems to be catching on as a post-modern poetic phenomenon. It's certainly a novel way of presenting a poem and is perfect for birthdays and celebrations and hidden surprises.


Mesostic poems are fascinating as they involve the creation of a poem which 'grows' from a central word, a bit like a tree or plant developing branches. They challenge the poet to think outside of the box and you'll be surprised just how effective they can be.

In this article you'll find several mesostic examples which hopefully will inspire you to have a go at your own. But first, as a lead in you might consider another novel form of poetry, the acrostic.

You've probably heard of acrostic poems, a special form of poetry in which the first letter of each word in a line form a distinct separate word, as in:

Perhaps these words are written

On water,

Each letter

Makes a ripple.

Well, a mesostic is a poem with the distinct word forming in the middle. When written down a classic mesostic might be said to have a spine from which lines are the limbs. It's a fun way to write a poem and gets the brain juices flowing.

Here's a very small example:

The clock is Ticking away the hours,mInutes and seconds of My life but love Endures. ___________________________________________________________

A mesostic poem.

A mesostic poem.

Mesostic poem using OLIVE.

Mesostic poem using OLIVE.



The Growth of the Mesostic

These plant pot poems are by artist Alec Finlay. He calls them 'stems' with branch words.

It's a cool idea to combine poetry with growth, as both processes often start with a seed and work on from the initial growth. Who knows what form the poem (and plant) will finally take?


How to Create a Mesostic

There are several ways into a mesostic poem but perhaps the easiest way is to think of your keyword first and then work your way through the lines. Don't forget that the subject matter of the poem must relate to your keyword.

For example, if someone in your family is about to celebrate a birthday use their name and work a mesostic around that!

So sPorty,

so hAndsome, he's

a naUghty

but cLever old Uncle!


. . .... ...It'S just

. ..great tHeatre. There's

.an ordinAry guy, balding,

. . .. ...unKnown,

. . .........lEaves sunny Stratford

.pennilesS, a few plays

. . ...and Poems in a bag, ends up on

.the GlobE stage a master,

. . ...unrivAlled

. . .......BaRd, 100%

.literary gEnius.

This poem has SHAKESPEARE as the spine!

These poems are both brain teaser and message carrier. Why not try your own mesostic and see what you come up with?


All images by chef-de-jour unless otherwise stated.

© 2013 Andrew Spacey

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