Not For Poets Only, by Emily Whitman

Do you write fiction? Nonfiction? Do you keep a journal? Do you breathe? OK, you qualify to keep reading. Because in honor of National Poetry Month, I'm tossing out some quick poetry prompts. Whatever you do, don't sit down hoping to write a brilliant poem. That just leads to assuming dramatic poses and wondering if you'll ever be a true (insert sigh here) poet. The point is to write something - anything! - and maybe in the process surprise yourself.

Ready for playtime?
  1. Grab the closest book. Open it to page 7. Write down the first three nouns you notice on the page. Put them in a poem.
  2. Start a poem with the words, "I remember when you..."
  3. Look around your writing space. Grab something that has personal meaning or significance for you. Place it in front of you. Write an ode to it.
  4. Not every important activity, object or profession has its own patron saint. Think of something that could use one - patron saint of parking spaces, of lost buttons, of wishes better left unfilled. Write a hymn of praise or a prayer of desperation.
  5. Write a poem with exactly seven lines of seven words each. Now write the same poem as a ballad. Now write the same poem as a haiku.
  6. Think of a word that describes how you feel right now. Write the letters down a page vertically. These are the first letters of the lines of your poem. Now look around you and write a poem about your surroundings infused with that feeling, but never mentioning the feeling.
  7. Think of the first book you remember loving as a child. Write a poem that tells its story. Or about your experience reading it. Or in the voice of the main character. Or about the associations brought up by thinking about it. This was one of my favorites:
Please, post a comment with a favorite poetry prompt of your own! Or post a line from a poem you write using one of these prompts. Or a line from one of your favorite poems in the whole wide world. That would be delicious.


  1. I write my poems while bathing.
    I've done so since fourteen.
    It makes the words all runny,
    but at least my thoughts are clean.

    Ha ha. Didn't take too much time with that one. Happy national poetry month to all.

  2. Not inspired to write a poem tonight, but you can see a cool one of Carole Weatherford's on my latest blog post at:
    GOing to facebook this post for teachers!


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