30 WRITING PROMPTS FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH_______________
"...from the Wompo Listserv..."
1. Write a really ugly poem.
2. Quickly pick out 12 words from the titles of books on a nearby bookshelf. Use them in a poem.
3. Write a poem with an invented biography for yourself.
4. Take a 1-2 page poem from a book and re-type it backwards—from the very last word in the poem all the way to the very first, keeping the lines the same lengths as they are in the book. Use this as the starting point of a poem, picking out the word formations that are particularly interesting to you.
5. Write from the number six.
6. Write to your pain: "Dear Pad of My Thumb, Will you kindly stop hurting? It is very hard for me to stir a pot or write a poem when you hurt like this..."
7. Let your pain write back to you: "Dear Liesl, if you would lay off the text messaging and playing minesweeper it would help me a lot, then you can write your poem or stir pot...".
8. Write to your hurting country, city or community, as a variation on the theme. Take the dialogue as far as it goes, then distill the essence. See if you can arrive at a fresh insight about what ails you and yours.
9. Wow! You've been at this over a week straight! Let your hand draw an abstract shape. Write about it.
10. Speaking as a fortune teller, tell a fortune. The first line is: You will take a strange journey ...... Finish the prediction/forecast by describing the journey and giving instructions or advice or even warnings for the journey.
11. Write a poem of at least 40 lines that is a single sentence.
12. Take fairy tale and rewrite it from the viewpoint of another character. For example, use the wolf to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
13. Write about a family secret.
14. Write an apostrophe to some abstraction (e.g., "To the End of the World" or "To My Birth").
15. Write about someone waiting for something.
16. Write about a color without naming the color—or its kin, e.g., no fair using "crimson" "scarlet" or "ruddy" instead of red.
17. Take any object out of your bag or pocket or purse. Speaking in first person AS THE OBJECT, answer the following questions (in any order): What is your favorite thing? What are you scared of? What is your secret? What is your wish for the future?
18. Take someone else's poem and select one word per line, writing them out in a list. Then write your own poem using these words in the same sequence, one per line.
19. Write 100 words (any kind of words) about your kitchen table.
20. Write a poem in which the form contradicts the content.
21. Write a piece at least 50 words long using only one-syllable words.
22. Take a common object, such as a flowerpot, boot or paperclip, and write about it as if you've never seen such a thing before (e.g., you're from the future and have just excavated it, or are from another planet).
23. Take the name of a favorite poet and anagram it. Use this to begin a poem.
24. Pick a word from today's headlines and write a definition poem for it.
25. Write the poem you cannot write.
26. What Work is For You: Write about a job you have had, whether you loathed it or loved it. Write from your own experience but go beyond the literal! Keep the poem in the present tense, and BE SURE THERE IS A PHYSICAL ACTION INVOLVED such as scrubbing floors, dissecting chickens, helping someone use the toilet. Keep your poem in couplets, tercets, quatrains, or sestets—your choice.
27. Write a poem in a received form in such a way that the form is concealed.
28. Imagine a drink or food dish that would bring you fully alive. Write the recipe.
29. Begin with, "This is not the last poem I will write…"
30. Elide (strike out) the Junk: Take a piece of junk mail and black out most of the words so that what remains is a poem.