Invented Poetry Forms – The Anagrammatic Selfie

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Like the similarly-named acrostic selfie poem which I wrote about on this blog last April, the anagrammatic selfie is a short, usually whimsical self-portrait in verse. But unlike the acrostic version where the first letter of each line spells out the poet’s name, the anagrammatic selfie consists solely of words formed from only the letters contained in your name. So logically, the first step when writing one is to choose which variation of your name you want to use (this will also be the title of your poem). For example, if I just used my first and last names, Paul Szlosek, I could create a list of 333 different words to write my poem with, but if I add my middle name Michael, I would then have an even larger choice of 2724 (if you are one of those people that lack a middle name, you could substitute a maiden name, or a title like “Doctor”, “Mister”, or “Miss”). After deciding which version of your name you are using, you just start puzzling out all the words you can create with its letters. Just keep in mind a letter can be used in a word only as many times it appears in your name. In my case, I could not use the word pizzazz because in that word the letter z appears 4 times, but only once in my name Paul Michael Szlosek (however I could use the word pass since the letter s appears twice in Szlosek). To save time and effort, you may want to consider using an online word finder tool to create your word list (the one I would recommend most would be https://www.wordmaker.info). Once you have a list of at least a hundred words, start studying it to see if any words on it might suggest a certain pattern or theme to you. For instance, on my list, the words schlimazel, schlemiel, cellulose, calluses, and shoelaces caught my attention and inspired me to write the following:

Paul Michael Szlosek

Is a schlimazel, a schlemiel,
Has cellulose, calluses,
Smells like sheep’s pee,
Loses his shoelaces,
Lacks all social skills,
Is as musical as a homesick camel,
Helpless as Achilles’ heel.

So, please, POEM,
Please call Paul home.
Help him cope,
Heal his soul.
Help him hope.

Here is another one of my attempts at an anagrammatic selfie which I hope might serve as a model if you decide to try one for yourself:

Paul Michael Szlosek

He is so much like
A small, pale mouse.
He leaps up, escapes his maze.
Police mice chase him home.

So what do you think of this form, my friends? What I really love about this form myself is that the repetition of the sounds of the same limited set of letters gives your poem a natural sense of rhythm and resonance without you even trying. I really hope that you will try the anagrammatic selfie yourself. If you do, I am pretty sure you will be pleased with the results.

12 thoughts on “Invented Poetry Forms – The Anagrammatic Selfie

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Carolyn! It is a form I created (or at least thought I did) almost 20 years ago for a children’s poetry workshop I was conducting at a local library. However, I just discovered this year it is not as original as I thought, sharing many similarities with a French poetic form known as the beau présent surprisingly invented by an American writer, Harry Matthews (fortunately there are also some major differences between my form and his as well).

      Liked by 2 people

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