Tuesday, April 3, 2018

30 Prompts for April and Beyond

My blogging time is short today--it's the first week of classes, and I'm about to leave for the Create in Me retreat.

So, let me post the 30 prompts that I used to create my National Poetry Month bulletin board.  Even if you're not writing a poem a day, you might find it useful to have some prompts.  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 the years that I've written a poem each day for a month, 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.

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.

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 Islamic terrorists).

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. In a later time, you write a poem that starts with this line: On the feast day of St. Goodall (read Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood to see the enormous potential of this line of imagining).

6. Write a poem in the voice of a minor character in a book, a fairy tale, or a myth.

7. Write a series of connected haiku, like Nancy Pagh’s “Fat Girl Haiku” in No Sweeter Fat.

8. Write about a medical procedure that made you become a mystic.

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. Write a gratitude haiku.

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/singer/artist from the past awakens to find herself/himself in our present time. Or write a poem in which your favorite author/singer/artist 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 your favorite superhero--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. Write a poem.

21. Write a poem about the ugliest thing you ever saw or the worst thing you ever tasted/smelled.

22. Write a poem about your worst job. Or your most interesting family member. Or both.

23. Write a poem with this title: “You Bring Out the Donald Trump in Me.”

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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