How to Write a Backward Poem

Backward poems are one of the most fun types of poems to write. A “backward poem” is a poem in which everything is done in reverse of what you would usually expect. Often they are written about a “backward” person. For example, Shel Silverstein has a very famous poem called “Backward Bill” from his book A Light in the Attic, and Douglas Florian wrote a well-known poem called “Mr. Backward” in his book Bing, Bang, Boing. My poem “Mr. Brown the Circus Clown” from The Armpit of Doom is also an example of a backward poem.

Create a Backward Character

To write a backward poem, start by giving your backward person a name, such as “Backward Bill” or “Mr. Backward,” and maybe deciding where they are from. Then try rhyming the next line, like this:

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.

Make a List of Backward Things

Now make a list of things that a backward person might do or say or have. For example, a backward person might wear his hat on his feet. Or he might have a cat that barks and a dog that meows. See if you can come up with several ideas like this and make a rhyming list, like this:

He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.

You can add as many couplets (a “couplet” is two lines that rhyme) as you like to your list to make it as long as you want. For example, I thought of a few more things that Backward Bob might do:

His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.

Give Your Poem a Simple Ending

When you are writing a simple, descriptive poem – that is, a poem that describes someone or something, rather than telling a story – it’s okay to end your poem more or less the same way you started it. So you might write a couple of lines to end the poem like this:

And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backward town.

Put it All Together

Once you’ve got your list and your beginning and end, just put it all together and, voila, you’ve got a shiny new backward poem, just like that.

Backward Bob

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.
He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.
His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.
And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backwardtown.


ADDITIONAL INFO