Writing Prompts

Monday, May 09, 2005
The Goddess Says

What is a/The Goddess, to you?

What is the Goddess trying to tell you?

"I stabbed myself with a fork today. It was the Goddess's way of telling me to sit the fuck down with a gin and tonic."--Kethrai

Monday, April 25, 2005

Random Prompts

Where is the poetry in your day? In the past hour? In your life?

What must you have wished for in your last life to get this one?

What do you truly want?

If my name was a verb...


I say yes to....

It's easy to forget about poetry.



Mix Tapes


What's Your Story?

What are you loyal to?

This is the season of...


This is Your Life

What's on your desk right now?

Describe, in immense detail, one moment of autumn.

When I came back from death....

Ask a question of a flower.

My magic is....

Friday, February 18, 2005
I Used to Believe

Write down all the weird beliefs you had as a kid.

Friday, October 29, 2004
A Sound

Write a piece which utilizes a sound. (For the purposes of this exercise, choose just one. You can branch out later.) Ideas: a bell, a clap, a laugh. Use the sound as punctuation, or as a marker between the poem's sections, or as a refrain.

Perform this piece in an echoey place (a church, a grain elevator, a bathtub). Perform it in a close place (under covers, in a car). Perform it before at least one other person.

Listen to what it *sounds* like.

The poem's not done till you've done all these.

Sunday, September 26, 2004
This week I discovered a site called Travel Blog. (http://www.travelblog.org/) I've been travelling recently, and while it was fun to check other people's impressions of places I'd been, it was also just as much fun to read about places I'd been to longer ago, like Petra. And to read about the places I'd like to go.

Write one of your own, of a memory. Consider making a travel journal on an upcoming trip, or a scrapbook of a past trip.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
City Stories

Check out City Stories. Write a piece in which your city (or a city you know intimately) is a character, a presence, a part of the plot, the meaning.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

: computer-based "fridge magnet" style compsing at your mouseclick, with gothic vocabulary.

Here's my newest one:

always writing
inside naked heart

Make your own!

Friday, July 02, 2004
Independence Day

Write about independence. Or fireworks. Or a memory of this holiday.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Sign up for a daily haiku, delivered to your email or phone. Submit some of your own haiku to same.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

+ Write the final scene in a book about Armageddon.
+ In painstakingly close detail, appealing to all five senses, describe
a rotting human head. When you reach the end, reveal the context for its
appearance -- one which sends the reader right back to the beginning.
+ What is the filthiest place you avoid in your day-to-day life? A nasty
corner of the basement? A restroom in your office building? The dump
you drive past on your way to work? Choose the worst. Now imagine that
something evil resides there. Write about its emergence.

From The Goreletter (http://www.gorelets.com).

Thursday, January 22, 2004
+ Begin a piece by describing an object that a character refuses to
throw away.

+ You've been dead for ten years. If you somehow were able to return,
what would you immediately do upon resurrection? Begin with personal
exploration in first person -- be honest and earnest. Once you run out
of juice, start fictionalizing. You can change names to protect the
innocent afterward.

+ Write about the surprisingly dire consequences of not following a
common warning (mattress tag? street sign? washing label? it's up to

(These were instigated by Gorelets, a fun thing:

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
I miss me, too.

Read Stuart Dischell's poem, "Days of Me," and write your own version. Are you generous to waitstaff, do you sip rain from roses, are you home before the streetlights go on? Tell me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Adjective & Noun Meet in the Middle of Town

Take a piece of paper, fold it lengthwise, and on the left side write a list of adjectives. On the right, without thinking too much about it (trade papers if you are doing writing practice with others), write a list of nouns. Wake up to weird language.

Thursday, February 13, 2003
Everybody, go to www.poetsagainstthewar.org and submit a poem.

Monday, February 03, 2003
Sonnet Forms

The sonnet was originally an Italian form, its name deriving from the Italian sonnetto, meaning “little song.” A sonnet consists of 14 lines, and has a rhyme scheme.

There are three different rhyme schemes for three different types of sonnets:

Petrarchan: The fourteen lines are divided into an octet (eight-line stanza) and sestet (six-line stanza) rhymed a-b-ba-a-b-b-a and c-d-e-c-d-e (the sestet is sometimes varied).

Shakespearean: a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g.

Spenserian: Least common, a mix of the other two: a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c-c-d-c-d-e-e.

(from The Poet’s Companion, by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux)

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

My Letters! all dead paper. . . (Sonnet XXVIII)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee tonight.
This said—he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand. . . a simple thing,
Yes I wept for it—this . . . the paper's light. . .
Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God's future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine—and so its ink has paled
With lying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this . . . 0 Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!

XXI. Mille fiate, o dolce mia guerrera
A thousand times to make my peace I sought
With your fair eyes, O my sweet warrior foe,
And offer you my heart; but little thought
Had your proud spirit to look down so low.
Yet if another would that heart enchain,
She lives in fickle hopes and dreams untrue;
Since I despise all things that you disdain,
It is no longer mine when scorned by you.
If driven forth, it cannot find at all
Harbour with you upon its wandering way,
Nor stand alone, nor go where others call,
Far from its natural pathway must it stray.
On both our souls this heavy sin will rest,
But most on yours, for you my heart loves best.

Francis Petrarch

What happened, happened once. So now it's best
in memory--an orange he sliced: the skin
unbroken, then the knife, the chilled wedge
lifted to my mouth, his mouth, the thin
membrane between us, the exquisite orange,
tongue, orange, my nakedness and his,
the way he pushed me up against the fridge-
Now I get to feel his hands again, the kiss
that didn't last, but sent some neural twin
flashing wildly through the cortex. Love's
merciless, the way it travels in
and keeps emitting light. Beside the stove
we ate an orange. And there were purple flowers
on the table. And we still had hours.

--Kim Addonizio

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Think of a secret you have. Now, don't tell the secret. Tell me what's around the secret: the age you are, where are you, what are you wearing, what season is it, what does it taste like, smell like, how does it feel? What are metaphors for the secret?

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Write a haiku. Here are the guidelines:

1. Syllable counts should be adhered to if possible:

first line - 5 syllables
second line - 7 syllables
third line - 5 syllables.

2. Observations on nature are most common.

3. Time is also important: time of day, time of year, season, time of life.

More on haiku:

Aha Poetry Haiku How-to
Masters and examples from Toyomasu
More on English language haiku

Monday, November 04, 2002

Describe yourself, in third person. Do this in three stages:

1. Describe yousrelf in ten words or less.

2. Describe yourself in 45 words or less.

3. Describe yourself at length, and go as long as you want. Then try to keep going. Then keep doing it. Update it.