Happy National Poetry Month! It's early here on the East Coast, Eastern Daylight Savings time. Perhaps I'm the first poet blogger to issue good wishes--that would be exciting. So, I wish for us all a month of more writing, more enjoyment of poetry, more sharing of the love of this art form.
Many of us will be trying to write a poem each day, so if you're not writing, send positive energy to those who are. When I did it successfully a few years ago, I was amazed that I could do it. It taught me many lessons and left me changed, much the way I felt changed when I wrote my first villanelle.
So join in the fun--even if you don't write a poem a day, you'll write more than you would have otherwise. And you'll train your poetry brain to be on the lookout for inspiration.
In case you don't feel inspired, I offer these 30 prompts--and remember, as I always tell my students, even if you haven't had the experience, you can still make something up:
30 Poetry Prompts for April:
1. Compare your love to a vegetable. Or compare your present life and your hoped-for life using terms from the garden.
2. Write about facing an apocalypse that’s not the one that you expected when you were younger (you planned for nuclear annihilation, but you get melting ice caps).
3. Write a sestina with these end words: sanctuary, blue (blew), sew (so), tear, fabric, light.
4. Write a poem in which you compare the Internet to one or more of the following: God, the cosmos, the mind of a pre-schooler.
5. Choose an element from the periodic table. Research that element. Write a poem.
6. Write a poem from the point of view of one of the minor characters in a fairy tale or a myth. Don't limit yourself to the human characters. For example, what would Cinderella's pumpkin which was turned into a pumpkin and then into a coach and then back into a pumpkin say?
7. Write a series of connected haiku, like Nancy Pagh’s “Fat Girl Haiku” in No Sweeter Fat. Are you ready for a steeper challenge? Write a crown of sonnets.
8. Write about a medical procedure that made you become a mystic. Or about a medical procedure that stripped you of your faith.
9. Write from the perspective of a gym machine or a kitchen gadget/appliance.
10. The gods used to speak in cataclysms, burning bushes, angelic appearances. How would gods communicate today? What would Jesus Tweet?
11. Choose one of the following titles and write a poem that asserts the opposite of the poem title (I’m giving you the author too, in case you want to look it up):
“The World Is Too Much With Us” William Wordsworth
“I’m Happiest When Most Away” Emily Bronte
“She Walks in Beauty” Lord Byron
“With Rue My Heart is Laden” A. E. Housman
12. Write an ode or a requiem for something from your past that you loved and has now passed away.
13. John Keats wrote “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Write a poem in which you agree or disagree.
14. How would you decorate your poetry scarlet letter?
15. Animal populations appearing or disappearing have often been seen as a sign. Write a poem in which an animal population appears or disappears.
16. Write a poem in which your favorite author from the past awakens to find herself/himself in our present time. Or write a poem in which your favorite author travels forward in time.
17. Write a poem that involves seedlings, stars, and an unusual car.
18. Take strong images from several works, combine them, and see what happens. For example, take melting wings from mythology, glass slippers, red capes, a baby in a manger, and Oliver Twist's empty porridge bowl--put them all in a poem, and what kind of glorious mess will result?
19. First, choose a color and brainstorm for 10 minutes about all the associations with that color. Then research an insect or a fish. Write a poem which uses both the color and the animal as symbol.
20. Choose a piece of classical music (if you’re at a loss, choose from Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart) and listen for 20 minutes. Or choose a different kind of music that's unfamiliar to you and simply listen for 20 minutes. Write a poem.
21. Go to your pile of poems that you’re just not sure what to do with. Choose one poem from each year of the last five or ten years (haven't been writing or saving drafts that long? use your own time frame). Choose a line from each. See what happens.
22. Take one or two of those lines, mix it with a line from a favorite poem of yours, take a phrase from your junk mail or television advertising, and see what happens.
23. Write a poem that’s 40 lines longer than the average length of poem that you write (feel free to take one of your older drafts, finished or not, and expand).
24. Write a poem that’s only 8 lines long.
25. Take characters from two (or more) different works and have them collide. What happens when the Prodigal Son meets Cinderella during his travels?
26. Take a small object. Imagine that a culture endows it with a different meaning (is it a religious object? Is it used for sex or cooking or protection or . . . ?).
27. Write a poem about an emotional state without ever mentioning that emotional state or any feelings at all.
28. Write an abecedarian. On your paper, down the left margin, write the alphabet (A on the first line, B on the second, and so on). Each letter will start the word that starts the line. You might want to see what your options are for the letter X—or use words that start with ex (like extreme or extrovert or . . .).
29. Should you live to be 102 years old, what will you miss most?
30. Write a poem that's a prequel or a sequel. How are Cinderella and the Prince getting along 10 years after the Ball?
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