Writing Prompts

Twenty Little Poetry Projects

1.  Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2.  Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3.  Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4.  Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5.  Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6.  Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7.  Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8.  Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9.  Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10.  Use a piece of “talk” you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11.  Create a metaphor using the following construction:  “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12.  Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13.  Make the persona or character in the poem do something he/she could not do in “real life.”
14.  Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15.  Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16.  Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17.  Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18.  Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19.  Make a nonhuman object say or do something human (personification).
20.  Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

from The Practice of Poetry,
“Twenty Little Poetry Projects” by Jim Simmerman

My example:  Utter Nonsense

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Five Easy Pieces

Before you write, remember a person you know well or invent a person.
Now imagine a place where you find the person.  Now your are ready to write.

1.  Describe the person’s hands.
2.  Describe something he or she is doing with the hands.
3.  Use a metaphor to say something about some exotic place.
4.  Mention what you would want to ask this person in the context
of 2 and 3, above.
5.  The person looks up or towards you, notices you there, gives an answer that suggests he or she only gets part of what you asked.

from The Practice of Poetry,
“Five Easy Pieces” by Richard Jackson

My example:  Dad

6 Responses to Writing Prompts

  1. cricketmuse says:

    I’m always on the lookout for new ways for my students to try out writing, especially poetry. Thanks for the diversity!
    Blue Skies,
    CricketMuse

    • Yousei Hime says:

      cricketmuse,
      Welcome! I like good prompts too (and teachers ;) ). If you have students you want to challenge, you might look at the Reverie prompts offered at naming constellations. There are some good and challenging offerings Joseph offers (also excellent poetry). Hope to see you again here.

  2. yi-ching lin says:

    hi! thank you for sharing these – i think they might come in handy!! (smile) cheers, y

  3. zumpoems says:

    Thanks for posting!

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