Tag Archives: Poetry Prompt

Friday Poetry Prompt

Read “Bound” by Aline Murray Kilmer at Poets.org:

If I had loved you, soon, ah, soon I had lost you.
Had I been kind you had kissed me and gone your faithless way.
The kiss that I would not give is the kiss that your lips are holding:
Now you are mine forever, because of all I have cost you.

You think that you are free and have given over your sighing,
You think that from my coldness your love has flown away:
But mine are the hands you shall dream that your own are holding,
And mine is the face you shall look for when you are dying.

Write an eight line formal poem that begins with “If I had love you,”


write an equally haunting poem that is concerned with war or loss.

Friday Poetry Prompt

Riffle through your old poems and pull from them a poem that has yet to find a home. Perhaps it isn’t quite finished or perhaps it is different thematically from your other work. Experiment with this poem in one, or all, of the following ways:

Write a “part two” to the poem.

Arbitrarily rearrange the words, lines and stanzas on the field of the page based on some principle that you invent. For example, perhaps words beginning with a particular letter are flush with the left margin while words beginning with a different letter are always indented so many spaces from the left margin. Maybe nouns contain extra spaces or are centered. Use your imagination.

Cut your poem up and rearrange its words. Paste the new onto a colorful piece of paper.

Most of all, enjoy the process. And feel free to post your results in the comments area below.

Friday Poetry Prompt

Thanks to Jenn Givahn for today’s poetry prompt:

Pick an object–a can opener, a doorknob, a football–and imagine its history. Where was it made? How did it get there? Who has it belonged to? What adventures did it experience? Write a poem that tells the history of the object. You might even try it in first person, from the object’s perspective.

(adapted from “The Observation Deck” by Naomi Epel… a cool prompt book that incorporates drawing cards).

Write A Modern Ode

Thanks to Erin Adair-Hodges for today’s poetry prompt inspiration:

Today’s prompt is to write an ode. Not a classical or even English ode, which follow particular formats, but rather, just write a poem in praise of something. Except, since we’re post-post-post, not really. Write an ode to something not usually praised or for which you have, at best, mixed feelings. Here is a great example, Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Midwest.”

This exercise is inspired by my trip to the dentist today. There were kitten posters on the ceiling.

Questions Poetry Prompt

Thanks to Rebecca Aronson for today’s awesome prompt:

Today’s prompt: a question poem.

For this poem, write only questions. Let each question lead your mind to the next question–these can be as loosely or closely associative as you feel like. The questions need not be answerable, but they should feel to you like real questions. I suggest at least ten questions on the list.

(once you have a list of at least ten questions, you might find that the list is a kind of poem itself, or you might decide to choose one or more of the questions, or their possible answers to write from.)

Have fun!

From Icebreaker to Poem

This week’s prompt is an adaptation of a great ice-breaker activity in which many of you may have participated at some point in your lives; but  instead of getting to know your peers, you get to write a poem.

Write three statements, two of which are true and one which COULD be true, but is not. Use the premise of these statements as a basis for a poem in which the reader cannot easily discern if the speaker is reliable. This may feel like a perfect prompt for a narrative poem, but experiment and see what develops.

Most of all, have fun!

The Epistolary Poem

This past July I participated in an email based “poem-a-thon”  activity facilitated by my good friend Juan Morales. The following prompt is one I particularly enjoyed and am now passing on to you (with Juan’s blessings).

Write An Epistle to Someone Who Inspires

Below, is a description of the epistle form from the PoeWar website (http://www.poewar.com/poetry-in-forms-series-epistle/):

Epistle (pronounced e-PISS-ul) is a poetic form that dates back to ancient Rome and to the Bible. It is a poem written in the form of a letter. The term epistle comes from the Latin word epistola, which means letter. It was used to express love, philosophy, religion and

Most people who think of epistles think of the Bible. Many of the books in the New Testament are epistles, especially the Epistles of St. Paul. The poet Robert Burns also frequently wrote epistles, as did Alexander Pope.

Over the past hundred years, as the telephone took over for letter writing, letters became less personal and more formal or business related. The concept of writing letters to relatives, friends,colleagues and lovers went out of fashion. In the last few years,
however, letter writing has had a rebirth of sorts as the Internet grew in prominence and people began to send e-mail to each other.

There are no meter or rhyme requirements for an epistle. Epistle is more a form of voice and persona. A poet can address their epistle to a real or imaginary person and express their views or take on the character of a different writer. The wonderful quality of an epistle is that it can be such a freeing form. The tone can be formal or use very personalized voices. The poems can be many pages long or as short as a post card.

Some things you should keep in mind when writing the epistle are who is writing the letter, who is the letter being written to, and how you would address that person. What would interest the writer and the recipient? How formal or informal would the writer be when addressing that person?

Share your epistle in the comments section below.

Summer Image Poetry Prompt

Photo by Anthony Flaco

Photo by Anthony Flaco

Summer. The season when daylight and warm temperatures prevail and vacation plans come to fruition. Unless of course you are a gardener – in which case you have probably been examining seed catalogs since February and plotting flower beds and furrows on graph paper since January.

For this first week of June, which marks the seasonal beginning of the summer season if not the astronomical, write a summer inspired poem. That is, write a poem based on whatever summer images inspire you, whether its swimming pools and car trips, camping by the lake or in the foothills, or canning tomatoes in a steamy kitchen.

Or perhaps you are a person who prefers winter months over summer and who finds summer not so much an inspiration as something to survive. Feel free to use your discontent as fodder for your poem.

Below is a summer inspired poem  to spark a creative flame (or a bit of malcontent) to help get you started:

by Louise Glück

In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

Share your poem in the comments section below.

Line a Day Writing Exercise

Write one line of poetry, inspired by any images you encounter, for each day of the week. Pay special attention to those images that engage your sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Favor tactile images over cognitive ones.

If you like the seven lines you created at the end of the week, write another seven over the course of the following week and combine them to fashion a kind of sonnet.

Rondeau Poetry Prompt

Today’s prompt comes from Frances Mayes’ “The Discovery of Poetry”

Write a a Rondeau:

A Rondeau is a poem consisting of fifteen lines arranged in a quintet (five-line stanza), a quatrain (four-line stanza) and a sestet (six-line stanza). The first few words of the first line act as a refrain in lines 9 and 15. These refrain lines do not rhyme, but repeating the fragments seems to imply the rest of the line, including the rhyme. The rhyme, therefore, acts invisibly. The roundeau’s usual rhyme scheme is aabba, aab Refrain. An eight-syllable line is traditional:

Here’s an example:

(Barbara Howes, 1914-)

It is time now to go away?
July is nearly over; hayt winter lingered; it was May
Fattens the barn, the herds are strong
Our old fields prosper; these long
Green evening will keep death at bay.

Last winter lingered; it was May
Before a flowering lilac spray
Barred cold for ever. I was wrong.
Is it time now?

Six decades vanished in a day!
I bore four sons: one lives; they
Were all good men; three dying young
Was hard on us. I have looked long
For these hills to show me where peace lay . . .
Is it time now?

Share your poem in the comments area below.

April is the Cruelest Month

Spring’s tumult stirs the air and moves the poet’s heart. It was T.S. Eliot who lamented:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Centuries before Eliot’s angst Chaucer wrote this of spring:

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The drought of March hath perced to the roote
and bathed every veyne in swich licour;
of which vertu engendred is the flour

For this week’s prompt, write the beginning, or prologue, of an imaginary epic poem that evokes the feeling and imagery of Spring. Be wildly imaginative.

Poetry Prompt: April Fools

“The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
~William Shakespeare

For this the first day of April, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day, write a foolish poem. Feel free to interpret this prompt broadly. For example, perhaps for you a foolish poems suggests writing about a past foolish endeavor, a foolish game or plan, or perhaps it simply  suggests utilizing foolish language and silly words. Alternately, maybe it suggests writing about fools, and there are many of those from which to choose. There is the quintessential court jester, the fool in love, the foolish student, any number of fools (or foils) in Shakespeare’s works, even the foolish raven (fox, cat, frog…) of Aesop’s fables. If none of these strike your fancy, consider writing a poem about the origins of April Fools, which is vague enough to encourage fanciful (foolish) interpretation.