Poetry Writing Prompts 2020

April 29, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Mary Eastham

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Mary Eastham:
When a movie’s soundtrack is good, it stays with us. That’s what we want from our poems. Here’s my prompt: Make a list of 10 songs from a movie you love. Now take a line from each one of those songs and start to build your poem. Think about the SOUND of the words, something poets sometimes overlook. Imagine each stanza as a scene. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 28, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Ellen Sander

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Ellen Sander:
They packed up their ________ and _________ (fill in the blanks for the first line)
Use strong nouns and verbs to fill in the blanks. It’s useful to go with the first things that occur to you especially if they don’t make sense initially. Then, just follow the poem as it unfolds for you.   Some suggestions, in case you draw a blank at blanks. Use them linearly or mix and match.
Blank 1                             Blank 2
courage                              flew home
ammuniton                       headed for the woods
sewing kits                        took them home to make masks
masks                                 went to the ball
tools                                    fled
last mule                            followed the tracks
instruments                       food for a week
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 27, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Alexandra Umlas

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Alexandra Umlas:
Private/Public/Poetry Poem
Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does. — Allen Ginsberg
Write down 3 things you privately “really think.”
If you had to choose 3 of your favorite poems, what would they be?  Make a list.
Write a poem where the title of the poem is one of the thoughts you “really think.”  Use a really good word (or a line if you’d like) from each of your 3 favorite poems in your poem.
Make the last two lines of your poem a rhyming couplet.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 26, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Bill Mohr

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Bill Mohr:
I recently posted an entry on my blog about one of James Wright’s best known poems, “Lying on a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.” Towards the end of the post, I suggested that readers “revise” the poem by typing out a version in which the first person pronoun is deleted from all but the final line of the poem.
To build on this exercise in tamping down any poem’s self-assertiveness, I would suggest starting with a draft of a poem in which the first person pronoun or one of its variants appears in every other line of the poem. Each couplet should focus on a particular sense (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) and the first draft must include at least one couplet foregrounding one of the senses. Whatever you retain of the subsequent drafts should then erase the first person and revise the sentences in the poem so that only concrete nouns are in the subject position. While there are certainly advantages to featuring concrete nouns at the end of lines of poetry (the final word being the most important word in the line’s enjambment), it is all too easy to overlook the noun in the subject position of the poem’s sentence. Let it not be an invocation of your self-centeredness until you have earned it. Even in the final line, be as reticent as possible.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 25, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Peggy Dobreer

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Peggy Dobreer:
Persona in Action Poem
What does the surfboard say to the surfer? Replace the surfboard and surfer with any tool or object of play and it’s user. Some examples are: lathe to the jeweler, baseball bat to the batter, or spoon to the eater. Let the object school the user. Let it judge how it’s being used, how could the user improve, and what is worthy of praise? The inanimate object is the speaker. Reveal its personality through its manner of speech. What is it’s attitude toward the user. Describe in detail using rhythm, language, and setting related to the activity. Decide in advance whether the rhythm of the activity works best in couplets, tercets, quatrains or free verse.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 24, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Ellaraine Lockie

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Ellaraine Lockie:
Word Branching:
This is a brief introduction for an exercise I use in a workshop I teach called “Word Branching.” It’s especially helpful for situations when you hear or read a word or phrase that mesmerizes you in some way, but you’re not sure how or why. But you think you might like to write about it in some way. The following will help you clarify what you want to say and to also give you images to use in your poem or prose piece.

  1. First, pick a word or a couple of words that best describe what you’re feeling about the word or phrase that fascinates you.
  2. Write that word or words on a piece of paper or in a word document.
  3. Then look that word or words up in the thesaurus.
  4. Make a list of the words that resonate with you. As you do it, images and ideas will come to you.
  5. As they do, word-branch them too.
  6. Continue to do this until you get an idea of what you want to say and where you want to go with the poem or piece.

This could very well be the start, or even an outline, for your next poem or other genre of writing. I often get poems from a single word, and the content sometimes doesn’t even relate to the word as I originally heard/read it. Try it, and happy writing!
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 23, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Elizabeth Iannaci

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Elizabeth Iannaci:
In Plain Sight Prompt
Take a stroll around your house or apartment. Make a short list of objects that you rarely notice but serve a vital purpose: the refrigerator, coffee maker, printer, bookcase, toilet, trash can, etc. Choose one that seems the most important at this moment.
Write a short poem (no more than 14 lines) extolling its virtues. Try describing  what your day would be like if it “went on holiday” or left you for someone else.
The piece can take any form, sonnet, Ode, metered or rhymed, whatever suits. Chances are, you’ll view this object with new eyes…
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 22, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Robert Wynne

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Robert Wynne:
As long as I can remember, I have hated flossing my teeth. I know it’s important for proper dental hygiene, but I dread the whole process. I once opened a poem with the words “I never floss…” and then went on to describe the wonders of a dentist’s waiting room. Think of something you know you should do, but that you don’t enjoy at all, and you either don’t ever do it, or not as often as you know you should. Then write a poem confessing this, and exploring the results of your tendencies. Feel free to even imagine wild consequences which could occur. And be sure to incorporate humor.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 21, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Nancy Shiffrin

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Nancy Shiffrin:
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Right where you are, listen. Write down the sounds you hear — the whir and white noise of electricity, the birds, the traffic, a neighbor’s drums, sirens… what color are they…what do they remind you of…what do they help you remember…what do you feel…
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 19, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Frogg Corpse

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Frogg Corpse:
Write about a nightmare; or dream you have recently had. Spend a minimum of two paragraphs (or up to two verses of poetic form). Describing the antagonist of your nightmare. The theme to the rest of your writing should display the ability to describe the area around you visually that creates your dream space.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 18, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Judy Barrat

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Judy Barrat:
Stand in front of a mirror; look deep into your own eyes and travel – perhaps back in time or into the future – note the people and places you see, the places  – who you were, are, will be.  Write a poem about your journey.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 17, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Francis Bede

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Francis Bede:
Find a passage in a sacred book which you think fails to resonate today, whether it be by tone or by language. For example a passage of misogyny, or where beauty is expressed in redundant words. Rewrite it in verse in any form.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 16, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Carol Williams

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Carol Williams:
While decluttering boxes of old documents and manuscripts in your parents’ attic, you find your mother’s diary and shamelessly begin to read the faded pages from her younger years.
Prompt: Write a diary entry as your mother would have recorded it–not on a birthday or natural disaster or significant occasion–just an ordinary day, morning to evening.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 15, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Taylor Mali

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Taylor Mali:


Although this prompt comes from a line rolled using a set of Metaphor Dice, it actually uses the ONE SIDE of a red die that guarantees you will NOT end up with a metaphor (but it’s one of my favorites anyway)! Normally the red dice are all big concepts, the white dice are adjectives, and the blues are all more “tangible” nouns so you might end up with MY MOTHER IS A HARD-WON MIRACLE or LOYALTY IS NOT A HARD-WON MIRACLE. But the line above is still good so write a poem that uses it or explains it. What is the hard-won miracle that some part of you craves? What part of you does the craving?
TAYLOR MALI is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion and one of the original poets on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. The author of six books of poetry including Late Father & Other Poems, he is also the inventor of Metaphor Dice, a game that helps writers think more figuratively. He lives in Brooklyn.  

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 13, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Sandy Soli

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Sandy Soli:

Revision exercise. Use a poem you have not been pleased with, something from your file. Rework it from end to the beginning. Remove anything that does not feel essential. Beware of “so,” “very,” “the,” and “that.” These utility words do not enrich poem language well. Try the poem upside down to see if you like it better.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 12, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – LB Sedlacek

This poetry writing prompt submitted by LB Sedlacek:

Write a Doodle Poem.

  1. Take a piece of paper, or your Ipad and doodle pictures, lines, words, letters, whatever you like to put down without thinking about it too much.
  2. Spend about 5-7 minutes with your doodling.
  3. Next take a look at what you have, hold it close, hold it far away, hold it upside down.
  4. What comes to mind? What words spring into your mind?
  5. What are your thoughts about what you drew?
  6. Write a poem based on your doodling and use one of the words that sprang to mind as the title.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 10, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Angie Bell

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Angie Bell:

Write a blackout poem. Blackout poetry is when a page of text, usually an article from a newspaper or a page from a novel, is completely blacked out (colored over with permanent marker so that it is no longer visible) except for a select few words. When only these words are visible, a brand new story is created from the existing text.
Cite the reference, including page number, of the original text.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 9, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Alex Phuong

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Alex Phuong:

Change happens all of the time.  How does one deal with change?  Please write a piece than involves both internal change and changes to one’s surroundings?  Also, will the author be willing to change himself or herself to make the world better?  Thank you!

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 8, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Yash Seyedbagheri

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Yash Seyedbagheri:

Write a poem in response to a piece of classical music. Classical music is said to stimulate the mind. Listen to the music while writing. For the initial draft, write wildly, untrammeled by constraint, using whatever thoughts come to mind. Keep writing until the music has ended.
How is your poetic response in “conversation” with the composer’s original intent or how you perceive that intent? Evaluate your raw, untrammeled thoughts after listening to the music. Then compile them into a poetic response of 50 lines or less.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 7, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Suzanne O’Connell

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Suzanne O’Connell:

Turn to page 35 of any book. Use the first two sentences backwards for your prompt. I used James Tate, “Worshipful Company of Fletchers” and got: “ The pleasure of little incidents  Remember.”

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 6, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Cindy Bousquet Harris

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Cindy Bousquet Harris:

That’s so cool; hottest deal around; warms the heart; a cold stare. And that’s just the temperature – for how it actually feels, you’ve  got to figure in wind, humidity, intensity of the sun, cloudiness, precipitation, altitude… and… and what else?
Give us a weather report – today’s, the past, a forecast, record-setting – and don’t forget the “real feel”.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 5, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Tresha Haefner

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Tresha Haefner:

Becoming the Villain
1. Name a type of character in a film or movie that is NOT like you, but that you sometimes wish you could play. For example, I’m almost always cast as the villain, or the overly-controlling mother. I’m never cast as the love-interest or the innocent young girl.
2. Name some of the stereotypes about this character. Draw from real examples if you can. Include things they do, and things they wear or use. For example, the innocent young girl is almost always pretty, red lips, long hair. She is shorter than the hero, in need of rescue, wears dresses, finds herself on a bed at some point, like snow-white or sleeping beauty, etc. Lots of them are princesses and live in castles.
SELF-PORTRAIT AS FILM NOIR VILLAINESS
Leggy, emerging from shadow in a hat and veil,
dress dark as blood – red silk, perhaps, or black velvet,
liquid in the chiaroscuro. A train station, and me with a mysterious
errand of vengeance, poison with a suitcase and a mission.
If you can, imagine my background as disheveled, neglected child
with ratty hair, a nefarious case of missing persons,
and all the scenes take place in a rainstorm.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the back of police cars,
I’m intimate with the make and model of the kind of gun
you’re holding in your hand right now. I wear gloves
even in warm weather. I’m really a cipher, a plot device,
a way to let the men be heroic or not in the inevitable last scene
where I throw myself in front of the bullet, or drive into the frozen
lake. Don’t be fooled by my satin glamour, the smoothness of my hair
and skin; it’s been a rough ride always assuming the mistaken identity,
the murderer’s weapon, the high heeled shoe that just catches the light.
Prompt: Write about yourself from the POV of this assumed identity. What are you really like? What do people not understand about you? What are they missing? You may consider your secret, unspoken background, your hidden motivations, etc. For example, “You think it’s nice to be the princess? This beautiful and weak. Once the feminist movement hit my kingdom everyone expected me to get a real job, to start taking care of myself instead of letting the princes from neighboring kingdoms rescue me.” If you don’t feel like writing from the POV of the character, maybe try writing to them, asking them questions. For example, “Dear Disney Princesses, Is it hard to stay so beautiful? Especially while dodging evil stepmothers and snake-faced witches? Tell me, what kind of moisturizer do you use up there in your tower? Do you steal your step-sisters razors when they aren’t looking so you can shave your legs? Do you bite your lip to get the blood flow red and pink? . . .

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 4, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Prasanna Surakanti

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Prasanna Surakanti:

Imagine napkin arrangements that look like flowers placed randomly. You take a closer look, is it Escher’s work? And now look at this
Sisters of Charity Washington D.C. – 1956
http://davidmoorephotography.com.au/100-photographs-2/
Write a poem about something that looked a little off balance on close study. Reveal your insights and revelations.

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April 3, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Diana Rosen

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Diana Rosen:

I love poems that evoke one or more of the five senses, however, smell is rarely used in poetry even though it has such emotional connections. Consider the aroma of freshly caramelized onions frying in a pan, how sweet a baby’s hair smells or something in nature that is ordinary or common yet has an extraordinary fragrance to you and, by extension, conjures a vivid memory. Make us recognize that smell without your describing the source. Use words you wouldn’t normally use to describe smell (sour, stinky, spicy, floral) and let your imagination rip. 
Capture the essence of this smell in 14 lines. If you want an added challenge, make the poem rhyme!

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 2, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Janet McCann

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Janet McCann:

Focus on whatever in the room happens to catch your eye–in my case, a cup of Earl Grey tea.  Then Google it.  Write a poem that combines the actual  thing you are looking at with the information you have just discovered about it.  Possibilities–a vase of roses, a can opener, a telephone, a needle, a cork, anything…
EARL GREY
The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture”, is assumed to be named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. He reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavoured with bergamot oil. 
According to one legend, a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of Lord Grey’s men first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. The tale appears to be apocryphal, as Lord Grey never set foot in China and the use of bergamot oil to scent tea was then unknown in China. However, this tale is subsequently told (and slightly corrected) on the Twinings website, as “having been presented by an envoy on his return from China”.
–Wikipedia
Earl Grey, of course I wonder
who he was, sipping my tea
which smells like a childhood story I was read
about China. Gratefulness? My grandmother
sitting under her calendar that said,
“There will always be an England,” would believe it.
The tiny Chinese boy slipping down the bank
into the river, brave British aristocrat
leaping after him? Bergamot–
such a whispery scent, citrus and flower.
Of course it didn’t happen, these things don’t
much as we may want them to. Not just the British toff
but the sense that everyone looks out for one another.
Of course it is in the interest of the tea firm
that something generous took place, that the man
received this priceless, expensive tea
because he was good. Of course you could
consider the Reform Act itself, it did away
with some electoral cheating. But this scent—
sour and gently sweet, this sip–
the mildly bitter afterbite. I can see two men
bowing to each other, between them
a cup—the gift, this warmth, this myth.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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April 1, 2020: Poetry Writing Prompt – Brendan Constantine

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Brendan Constantine:

Compose a 14 line poem in which each line is a complete sentence. Do not, however, punctuate it. Your subject (at least to start with) is how you are contagious. What do people keep with them after they’ve met you? Is it your sound, your touch? Or is it some piece of your spirit? Can someone catch a dream by kissing you?

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.
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