It’s the first of April, and that means it’s National Poetry Month. That also means, I’ll be posting a poetry prompt daily here for the next 30 days. Please note that my daily updates will push the older parts of this post to the bottom. Please check back~ and happy writing!
04.30 ~ Last day of NaPoMo! Write about the idea of the “daily.” What does it mean? Explore this in a poem.
04.29 ~ One of my most recent daily poems began out of some initial tinkering with the idea of consonant clusters— sounds in words with no intervening vowels. Write a poem using one (or more) such word(s) of your choice with a consonant cluster as a shaping or thematic device.
04.28 ~ When I was a child I would get a kick out of oxymorons— I still do— things like “a fine mess,” or “jumbo shrimp,” “open secret,” “doing nothing,” “constant change.” Write a poem riffing on a favorite oxymoron.
04.27 ~ Write a poem-meditation on a word with an interesting etymology. Include in it a book, a bell, a cup, and fire.
04.26 ~ Write a poem about finding your way, using one of the senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell).
04.25 ~ Last week I was invited to read poems from my new chapbook Check & Balance (from Moria Books/Locofo Chapbooks Series) at Granby High School. At the end of the session, because it was in Eddie Dowe’s English/Creative Writing class, I did a small writing exercise with the students. We did some ekphrastic poems, using some visual prompts. This was the one that most students responded to~ it’s a link to a photo of a phone booth set up by one man in the coastal town of Otsuchi in Japan, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that claimed so many lives in 2011. There is a short documentary here too, describing how hundreds of people have made pilgrimages to what’s been called The Phone of the Wind ~ they step into the phone booth which has a rotary phone, and “call” their beloved dead to talk to them, to cry, to tell them they love them. Write a poem in which you imagine you are in this phone booth ~ who will you talk to? what will you say?
04.24 ~ Write a poem about a childhood toy made up or cobbled from other things.
04.23 ~ Write a poem that is a kind of question for an answer you provide in or as part of its title.
04.22 ~ Write a poem about finding something surprising or unexpected in a coat pocket.
04.21 ~ One of my cousins, who was also my classmate in high school, once told me that one of our teachers had told him he would “amount to nothing.” He quietly kept to himself the sharp little wound from that encounter. Many years after, he saw this teacher at a bus station and for a moment felt like going up to him to show him that what he’d said back then was not true; but he let the moment go. Write a poem about a similar moment of wounding and letting go, specific to your own context/s.
04.20 ~ Some activities are meditative – where the process is as important as the end product. I feel like this holds true for things like baking bread, or hand-lettering. Or just about anything which demands one’s full and undivided attention. Write a poem about/that demonstrates the process of contemplative or meditative attention.
04.19 ~ Write a double abecedarian ~ proceeding from A-Z down the left side of the poem, and Z-A in reverse down the right side of the poem (the ends of lines).
04.18 ~ Write a love poem inspired by leftovers.
04.17 ~ Write about a death, or a birth, that you have personally witnessed. Include in the poem the name or sound of a bird, and the name or color of a mineral.
04.16 ~ Write a letter-poem to someone in the past who said you would never (become) _.
04.15 ~ Remember the first story that you ever fell headlong into/fell in love with. Write about it, or that moment, in a poem.
04. 14 ~ Write a poem that works as syllogism: setting out assumptions that lead to a specific conclusion. Make the “proof” as concrete and specific as possible.
04.13 ~ Write a poem about a recurring dream and how Hieronymus Bosch would paint it.
04.12 ~ Write a poem in which something is burning.
04.11 ~ I remember a fairy tale in which the central character, the goose girl, confesses her sorrows to the stovepipe and is overheard by the king. Each time she goes to unburden herself, she starts, “If my mother knew, her heart would break.” Write a poem in which you begin with a similar construction: “If my mother knew _, her heart would break.”
04.10 ~ Write a poem about a simple pleasure.
04.09 ~ Choose a Tarot card figure/persona (i.e. The Fool; The Juggler; Death; The Lovers; The Magician; etc.) or invent a new one (The Soldier? The Housewife? The Undertaker?) Write a prose poem about this figure.
04.09 ~ Write a poem about walking and thinking. Include details about the physical and internal landscapes during the walk.
04.08 ~ Take down the first two or three lines of whatever song is playing when you turn on your radio (at home or in your car). Write a poem in response.
04.07 ~ Write a poem in which you or your speaker argues with the first thing that crosses your path or line of vision today.
04.06 ~ Write a poem which recounts some sudden change. Make each line end-stopped.
04.05 ~ Choose a photograph of yourself, either by yourself or among others. Write a postcard poem to a future self narrating the mood in the picture.
04.04 ~ Choose a spice from the spice rack or at the grocery store— clove? anise? cardamom? Write a poem using it either as trigger for some memory or story, or as central sensory element.
04.03 ~ Write a poem about some procedure that used to be different than what it is today (getting braces? getting x-rays? mailing and receiving packages?) Do a little research to see if you can find fun or interesting facts.
04.02 ~ One of my favorite poems is the late Joe Salerno’s “Poetry is the Art of Not Succeeding.” I love it for its characterization of poetry as a kind of underdog art— how at its core, it doesn’t really care about fanfare or recognition: not the win, but the lonely sprint in the fog; not the rich foliage but winter’s darkening branch. Prompt: Write a poem that honors one such moment that otherwise tends to get relegated to the shadows, to the sidelines.
04.01 ~ Shortly after the November 8, 2016 presidential elections, William Allegrezza over at Moria Books started a Locofo Chapbooks project calling for poets to send in 100 protest poetry chapbooks within the first 100 days of the current administration. He has been mailing the chapbooks in batches to the White House. Over in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia Poet Laureate Ed Madden has left poetry parking tickets on cars parked downtown today. Prompt: Write a poem that similarly aims to disrupt the surface of everyday life or some idea of a given. Bonus: Think of a project similar to Bill Allegrezza’s or Ed Madden’s, that brings poetry in contact with more people, including (especially!) those that may not even know they need it.