Creative Writing: Poem Prompts

1. Write a poem  using the headlines cut out of a newspaper or fragments of poems from a notebook. Cut up the words and rearrange them to create new meaning.

2. Choose a poem that you like. Cut it up and mix up all the individual words or phrases. Get rid of some and recompose the poem into something that is your own

3. Try writing a poem of only negative statements: “I don’t…I no longer…I won’t…I would not…I cannot..I don’t even..I never…

4. Write a “contradictory poem.” Example (from Peter Handke, from “The Wrong Way Around”): I do not look at things, and things look at me. I do not move, and the floor under my feet moves me.”

5. Take a story out of a magazine or newspaper. Transform it into a poem by using the words and phrases but deleting and recomposing it.

6. Write a poem from the perspective of any inanimate everyday object, like a coffeepot, your car, your pencil, or the doors to your school. Use first-person and try to imagine the world through the object’s eyes as if it were alive.

7. Write a poem made up only of questions.

8. Write a list of questions. Then write the answers. Delete the answers and make up a poem from the answers you have left.

9. Take a favorite poem. Run all of the words together without punctuation. Then create a new poem by adding new line breaks and puncuation.

10. Write an “This I Believe” poem.

{Many of these ideas came from The Aspiring Poet’s Journal, by Bernard Friot, Abrams Books 2008)


Creative Writing: Creating an Exquisite Corpse Poem

Writing an Exquisite Corpse Poem

Everyone needs to write their word under the fold, so that all the responses end up on the same side of the paper and, of course, no one unfolds it until the end.

The Prompts

1. Write down an article, definite or indefinite (A(N) or THE)

2. Write any adjective (i.e. describing word e.g. yellow, funny, huge)

3. Write down a single concrete noun (i.e. one that names one of something concrete – dog, elephant, apple, trombone, child, waiter, spiderweb)

4. Write down an adverb (i.e. a word that describes how something happened – e.g. he ran slowly)

5. Write down one of the following verbs: carries, remembers, chases, sees

6. Write down a number larger than 1

7. Write down any adjective (as in step 2)

8. Write down any plural concrete noun (e.g. dogs, elephants, apples, trombones, children).

Next Step

Pass the paper around one last time then open and read the full sentence.

The Outcome

You should end up with a collection of very strange but grammatically accurate sentences, such as:

The shadowy pickup Truck triumphantly chases fourteen enthusiastic elephants.

A frightened fence-post hurriedly carries two reluctant doors.

The glorious sheep quickly remembers four happy windows.

Don’t Stop There

Each person uses the sentence they have ended up with as the first line of a short poem and chooses one of the others as their last line.

I Poem

Template for an I-Poem:

First name

Four words that describe you

Family relationship (sister, son, daughter of…)

Loves… (three things)

Who feels that…

Who needs (three things)…

Who gives…

Who fears…(three things)

Who would like to…

Where you live/Place you identify with (Citizen of USA, Resident of Minneapolis)

Last Name