So, I wrote a draft of a poem yesterday where Bjork meets Bieber. It was tricky trying to capture the essence of their voices! I got the idea to write this one from a prompt from the book The Daily Poet by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano. This is the BEST book of prompts I’ve ever encountered, I recommend it. It has a prompt for every day of the year—their ideas are rich with triggers. Another poem I wrote in response to one of their prompts was published last year—it was a poem entitled You Only Have Three, about three wishes. The book of prompts has really come in handy as I did a poem-a-day in November 2015 and also currently in April 2016, for those days when the muse is elusive. Feel free to comment if you have a book of prompts (poetry, fiction, or even nonfiction) that has inspired you—I’m always looking for new ideas!
This week (Sat Apr 16) during the Jersey City Writers poetry workshop, we will be trying out two prompts. The first is to write a poem using some geographical terms in new ways. For inspiration, read Zachary Schomburg’s THE THINGS THAT SURROUND US. You can also check out Wikipedia for a glossary of geography terms.
The second prompt is to write about a blessing or sacred text (perhaps scripture, perhaps scientific document), but focus on your reaction to the text. How does it make you (or the speaker) feel? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive reaction. For inspiration, read Tony Hoagland’s Bible Study.
Check out this masterful poem by Craig Arnold, titled Hot. I still remember reading it in high school, fascinated by the tale of addiction, and impressed with the tight couplets. Can you write a poem about addiction that is this visceral, where readers can understand the draw of the drug, even if they’ve never taken it? Try it.
I’m assigning two prompts today to my poetry workshop. The first is to write a cinquain, a form similar to a haiku. The version I’m demonstrating is a counting of syllables, like this:
- 2 syllables
- 4 syllables
- 6 syllables
- 8 syllables
- 2 syllables
For a great example of this form, see Adelaide Crapsey’s November Night. For me, keeping the poem focused on one image is just as important as counting the syllables.
The second “form” is not a formal structure, but an idea to write a mobius strip poem. You know, when you take a strip of paper, twist it once, and tape it closed. If you run your pencil along the strip, it will eventually end up traversing the entire surface, and ending up exactly where it began. How can you write something like this? You want to end up the same place where you started (perhaps by repeating a line or refrain) but there is a turn along the way, so something new is gained by the time you return. The inspiration for this “form” is Mark Strand’s The Tunnel (one of my favorite poems). Enjoy your writing!