Friday, April 27th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Poetry

e.e. cummings poem - To be Nobody but YourselfApril is National Poetry Month. How did we get to the end of it without having a single poetry prompt?

I like poetry, but I’m not a good judge of what makes a poem good. I prefer the Dr. Seuss rhyming kind to free verse — and I think anything “… bouncy, flouncy, trouncy, pouncy,” is, of course, “…fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!!!” *

I like Shakespeare’s sonnets, e. e. cumming’s clever words (more for how they’re laid out on the paper than anything else), Shel Silverstein, and Dante. I like dark and angsty, abhor maudlin and sentimental, and enjoy a really good sci-fi poem which makes me think.

My favorite poem is Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, introduced to me by my best friend in high school. (Hi, Charlie!)

I’d much rather a friend introduce me to a poet than to find him on my own: it’s both a ringing endorsement and a shared memory…

How do you like to find your poetry?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a poem about:
    • a family secret
    • an old love
    • a weird fact or obscure trivia you know
    • a cherished memory
    • your favorite food

  • Write a poem at least 50 words long using only one-syllable words. Mix it up and try using only two-syllable words or three-syllable words.
  • Randomly pull 10-15 books off your shelf and write down the titles. Use as many as you can in a poem.
  • Write a structured poem using a structure you’ve never tried before: haiku, sonnet, sestina, villanelle, etc. Here’s a link to 12 kinds of structured poems and how to write them.
  • Write a poem in which the form contradicts the content.
  • Write a poem that starts with a one word title, has two words in the first line, three in the next, and continues by adding one word per line.
  • Poetry through reduction: take a piece of junk mail and cross out some of the words to create a poem. Start by eradicating some words, see how it reads, then whittle them down more and more until you have a lean, focused poem. Do the same with a page of text from your favorite author, a newspaper article or a magazine essay.
  • Write a poem based on a famous work of art, a photograph or snapshot, or the view from your window.
  • Journalers and essayists: What is your favorite poem? Why? Or, turn it around: what is your least favorite poem and why? Or, write about types of poetry? What is your favorite type? Least favorite? Cite examples to back up your statements, or write snippets of your own to do so.

If these aren’t enough, here are a few other prompts I’ve written which touch on poetry:

Good luck!

* Words from the Disney Tigger song.