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Poetry Prompts for Any Day

Originally written for students as challenge assignments, these prompts now function as reminders of how to write a poem on any day.

Take yourself to a place that you conceive as beautiful or sublime, somewhere that quiets you. Find your voice as it speaks in this atmosphere. Record what comes to you., what you see, feel, hear. What do you learn? Write only the things this quietest voice would say.

Write a “History of ________” poem. Fill in the blank with a personal subject, and follow the emotional thread through time. Don’t veer much from the personal subject that you choose nor your mission of tracking its history.

What does it mean to design your own world? Do that.

Compose a poem out of “I want______” and “I wish______.” Focus on the “Then” and the “Now.” You could do this by describing a memory in the first stanza, and then describing the “Now” in your second.

Bring vulnerability to the page. Don’t overthink it. Be easy about it: list a few feelings, a few thoughts that cause you pain or excitement, and design a poem around your favorite(s), using concrete imagery from your surroundings. This will best be done outside.

Credit: Christina Darragh

Write The Poem—the one you haven’t yet, the one you’ve always wanted to write. Allow your images and memories to be small if they are.

Imagine a time in which you loved someone without being loved in return. With this situation in mind, write an imaginary playlist, in the spirit of Terrance Hayes’s “Liner Notes for an Imaginary Playlist.”

Be the object of someone’s admiration. Describe how they see you. Depending on where this goes, you might end with a self-realization.

Art credit: Christine Darragh of Dark Oak Bindery

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