“An abecedarius is a piece of writing that uses the letters of the alphabet for organization… In a poem, the first letter of each line is ‘a,’ ‘b,’ ‘c,’ ‘d,’ ‘e,’ etc., and the poem is twenty-six lines long. The lines may be of any length, but poets often keep them about the same length.” — The Practice of Creative Writing
Tips for Writing an Abecedarius
- Choose a subject that is small enough and focused enough for you to go deep: Often, this form is used to write about a person, someone you love and wish to write about playfully, or someone who is difficult and troubling to you, but also beloved: a parent, a lover, God. You want to choose a subject with energy and you want to focus on the tensions in the relationship — that’s what makes this interesting for other people to read.
- Don’t feel you need to start with “a”! Instead, make a list of images that come to you when you think about this person (or your topic). Then, work to fit the images into the alphabet. Try to stay away from easy outs: “A wonderful man was my father. Boy, was that guy great.” Whether you are doing a poem, essay, or story, you may want to do some research.
- When you put your piece together, your first line or sentence begins with a word that starts with the letter “a,” then the next line or sentence begins with “b,” then “c,” and so on. Yes, you will have to work hard for “q” and “x” — that’s part of the creativity that makes this form compelling century after century.
“Anaphora is the repetition of the first words in each line or sentence. Anaphora is a rhetorical device, used by writers in all genres, to increase the energy, tension, insight, and overall power of the piece. Anaphora is used when you want to make a strong point, and have your words be remembered. One of the most famous examples of anaphora is from Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech:
‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.'” — The Practice of Creative Writing
Tips for Writing an Anaphora
- For your anaphora, choose a topic you feel very strongly about, something that is very personal to you, something you haven’t talked about much but have been wanting to for a very long time. Here are some options.
- Memoir anaphora: Think of a “we” you identified with strongly, a group you were very much a part of — lifeguard crew, summer of ’08, ongoing. Write a memoir, letting the reader in on the very particular images that detail your exploits and passions, beginning each line with “We” and showing the group in action.
- Or write an anaphora poem that uses one of the following as the beginning for each line. However old you are, that’s how many lines you must write:
I used to _________ but now ____________
I am so sorry __________ (all the things you are sorry for that no one even knows you did)
I am so not sorry I _____________ (all the things you’ve done that have caused fallout for others, but it was worth it – use images!)
Every night we _____________
I wish I never ______________
An aftertaste of insomnia.
Baristas craft up her medication,
Cream paired with sugar.
Decaf? It’s not in her prescription
….Espresso is though.
Focusing her energy to never before seen heights, the
Ghosts of procrastination go back to their graves.
Hallucinating daydreams make her
Instantly morph her reality,
Juxtaposing between fact and fiction.
Kaleidoscope crystals of sugary bits dip in the pool of pure
No decaf though.
Oasis of caramel macchiato, destroyed by the sandstorm of
Perfectionism. Attempting to make every ounce of a
Quality idea seem inaccurate. Letting the mind
Roam free, bleeding out
Surreal scenarios of success
That might not come to be.
Underneath the surface she leaves a
Vacancy, a home for all her energy to become matter.
Watering her soul with copper motivation.
X’s and O’s engraved on the right of her brain
Youth is wearing thin. Drink. Because soon we’ll all be
Inhale, exhale the pain is gone
My worries have now gone to the ceiling
What a down time but now a great feeling
Inhale, exhale I see right through you
You, my windows
Outsiders won’t be able to see through you
Me on the other hand… Inhale, exhale
My doubts are gone, when they come back
I know have to inhale, exhale
I still think about it
Soon I’ll be back to Square 1
What happened earlier I still think about it
Everything is fine at the moment
Smiling from ear to ear
I still think about it it could all
Cake or No?
Almost my birthday yay
but, wait I don’t know what to do I
Either it’s between having no people or a lot of people
From what I’m experiencing no people sounds
Great but lots of people sounds not bad
Have I even talked to people lately? NO
I’m just so confused I don’t want to
Jump to conclusions
Knowing that a lot of people will come
Look what I’m doing doubting
May is coming up soon My
Nerves are kicking in
Oh No this is getting bad
People just confuse me because I don’t know who will come
I need answers quick so I can get my money
So I know what I will be paying for
Thanks to my mom she is going to help me she
usually does but I’m
very anxious to see
What’s going to happen my
X wants to come but Definitely Not
You know hwat I should stop worrying
Zaaaammmnnn I can’t wait
A burning hot day
Cold water in the pool
Drowning in sunscreen
Enjoying fresh fruit
Going to the park
Ice cream melting out the cone
Juice filled snow cones
Kids riding bikes
Lemonade from the fair
Melting when you leave the house
New summer clothes
Over packing for camp
Pretty much never needing a jacket
Quilts of air are needed to sleep
Sleeping until 2
Throwing water balloons
Under packing for vacation
Wind in my hair
Xmas in July
Zipping down the highway to somewhere new
Aim your love precisely for if you miss
Bisa you will know the pain.
Caused from your missed target.
Don’t struggle with your love for
Even the slightest strain could tip the scale
Fleer her when she deserves it and
Google eye at her soft slow soul
Have you aimed your love precisely?
I feel you haven’t got a clue.
Just sit still in her presence
Kill the mocking jay if you have to
Loudring the population could make things intense
Mildly if you aim your live right through
Never spare all your love right through
Never spare all your love for
Others do not deserve it like she does
Pick and pull from your eyes
Quickly so she doesn’t know your world revolves around her
Respect the residue she leaves on you
Sip the tea that she occasionally spills on you
Tickle the spots that have been untouched
Unite the fires that came from one spark
Visit her lonely bones before the night
Whistle while she works she likes that
XO XO her before she goes
Yell her name so she knows
Zone as in twilight is where she’ll go
Articles over Presidents, Government, and Amendments
Broad discussions regarding book compared to film
Countless hours of studying and stress
Determined, Dedicated, Doubtful, Dance
Explanations about the genetics and DNA
Failed test, forced corrections
Grades become who you are and your future
Handed in white papers, lost information
Interest in nothing being taught…
Just study, Just try, Just ask for help
Kindergarten, Grade School, High School
“Listen Up,” the teacher says
Morning stress to night anxiety
Notes taken, Notes given
Opposing views and an open mind
Patience, Faith, Hope, Fear
“Quiet Please,” the teacher says
Right or Wrong?
Study, Study, Study, Study, Test
“Trade Papers,” the teacher says
Understand everything you’re taught, the minute you learn it
Vent your problems to your school counselor
Work hard and Challenge yourself
Xmas break, Spring Break, but not long enough
“You need to go to college,” the teacher says
Zap the map to ACT and SAT
Ode to Joni
Abortion, she avoided, instead penning the song “Little Green.”
‘bout her baby daughter she gave up for adoption so she
could tinkle the ivories of freedom,
dabble in one love affair after another
each leading to a new song. Literally.
“For Free,” she writes, about a street clarinetist, playing real good for free
G, says He, stop singing “Woodstock!”
Heard it a million times, P? At least it’s free. Hah.
I’m telling you, her voice sounds like a trumpet
(just a line I stole from the documentary Allison and I watched)
kooky, Nordic, lower, and lower and lower,
lower it goes, with age, with jazz, with the eighties and nineties.
Mitchell. The name of the truth-teasing soldier in The Things They Carried.
Notes, she carries, heartache, and the heavy of actual, self-actualization
“Oh, California… California…” she scats, “Will you take me as I am?”
Please take me as I am, isn’t that the question all of us are asking? Another
question: When you’re in the spell, is it hard to tell, if it’s wrong or if it’s
real? I’m under her spell. It’s real. “She’s the real deal,” you might hear me sqwak.
So many reasons why I love him, and my dead grandfather’s cold, hard stare
taps at my heart.
Undergraduate, they called me, when I first combed through my mom’s stacks of Joni
Viking, I was, scavenging for pieces of lyrics, intervals that wove a sound beyond my world.
Xmas, “River” runs ragged in department stores as I
yearn for the throatier, razor edged ones, take the whole of Court and Spark.
Zinc, her “trumpet”; the silver-white gift to her listeners. Beneath, iron and steel.