Poetry is one of the most magical forms of self-expression. You can express thoughts, ideas, and feelings in a poem that are otherwise difficult, or even impossible, to say in any other form of communication.
And poetry has long been the language of lovers. Millions of writers have used poetry to declare their affections, obsessions, and heartbreaks.
Today’s poetry prompts celebrate lovers and the poems they write.
But Love Poems Are SO Cheesy
It’s easy to scoff at a love poem. Many love poems use the same words, present overly familiar images, and convey similar sentiments. That’s what makes them SO cheesy.
Writing a unique and compelling love poem is always a challenge. After all, the more something’s been done, the more difficult it becomes for anyone to do it well.
Luckily, poetry prompts can help.
The exercise is simple and straightforward. Choose one set of poetry prompts from the lists below and then write a poem using all the words in the list. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try to write a single poem using all the words from all the lists, or mix and match words from the lists at will.
I’ve even included some cliché terms for those of you who are fans of cheesy love poems.
See if these don’t bring out the lover in you.
|Cheese Please||Erotica||Obsession||Heartbreak||Moving On|
Spread the Love
Once you write your little ode to the one you cherish, go ahead and send it – just in time for Valentine’s Day. You can also post the pieces you write based on these poetry prompts in the comments.
If you have any poetry prompts to share, feel free to post them in the comments!
Writers have been expressing their feelings through poetry for centuries. Rant poems release anger, melancholy poems reveal sorrow, and love poems declare affection. Some poems are meant to make readers laugh. Other poems make people think.
Tribute poems (or odes) express praise for the poem’s subject. Odes can be written to honor people, animals, objects, and abstract concepts. You can just as easily write an ode to your grandmother as you could write an ode to your imagination.
Today’s poetry prompts ask you to identify something or someone worth celebrating and then write a tributary poem honoring the subject you’ve chosen.
Each of the poetry prompts below asks you to choose a different kind of subject. The prompts are designed to get you thinking about what matters to you and why, and then to express your feelings through poetry.
- Someone you love. The most traditional odes are written to extol the virtues of a loved one. Who do you love? Tell them why with a poem.
- Someone you admire. You don’t have to know or love someone to pay tribute to them. Write a poem honoring one of your heroes, someone who has, from a distance, made a difference in your life.
- An inanimate object. You can write a silly poem about how much you admire your toaster or you can write a serious piece declaring the magnificence of an inanimate object with more meaning (something like a book, perhaps?).
- An abstract concept. Can you pay tribute to love itself? Write a poem honoring something that can’t be seen or touched: honor, passion, curiosity, or loyalty. Or music.
- Someone you despise or view as a villain. What happens when you look at your enemy and search for his or her merits? Can you see the good in someone you see as bad?
- A total stranger. Has a total stranger ever helped you? Have you ever thought about all the people in this world you’ve never met but who affect your life?
- A place. The beach, the mountains, the vast sea, and deep space are all great places for tributary poems. Write about the city you love, the town you call home, or your favorite vacation destination.
- Be a fan. Write a poem to your favorite book, movie, song, or TV show.
- Satire. Turn your tribute on its head and write a tongue-in-cheek piece. Tell bad drivers, rude customers, and evil dictators how grateful you are for what they’ve done. Do it with a wink and a smile.
If you use any of these poetry prompts, feel free to come back and share an excerpt once you’ve finished your poem.
It’s easy to think of poetry as soft, flowery, and convoluted. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare, greeting cards, and children’s books. It’s precious, sweet, and erudite.
But some of the most exciting modern poetry defies all those stereotypes, and you need look no further than the slam poetry and spoken word communities to see how poetry can be infused with rage, passion, and humor.
These poets have mastered the art of ranting and raving via performance poetry. It’s no wonder that during live recordings of some of their most impassioned poems, the crowd can be heard hooting and hollering.
Today’s poetry prompts encourage you to write a poem ranting and raving about something that really chaps your hide.
You can use these poetry prompts to write any kind of poem you want. But for some reason, poems that rant and rave work exceptionally well in performance. These pieces have luster on the page, but they explode when the poet reads them aloud, so I recommend working on a poem that is meant to be performed. There is a list of links to some excellent recordings of rant poems at the end of this post.
How to use these poetry prompts:
Choose one of the lists below and write a poem using all of the words in the list. You can also write a poem mixing and matching words from these lists or using all of the words from all of the lists.
|Social Consciousness||Personal Affronts||Road Rage & Pet Peeves|
Once you’ve finished your poem, feel free to come back here and share it with us.
Need some ideas to help you get started with these poetry prompts? Below are links to a few examples of rant poems that are beautifully executed — well written and brilliantly performed. Once you follow the link, you’ll need to click the pod icon to listen to the performances.
WARNING: some of these poems may contain offensive language. But they show the breadth of subject matter that a rant poem can tackle. Some are full of anger, others are imbibed with grace, and a couple are sprinkled with humor. Enjoy!
- How to Write a Political Poem – Taylor Mali
- Lit; or To The Scientist I Am Not Speaking To Anymore - Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
- A Modest Proposal - Jack McCarthy
- Anti-War Rant - Jamie Kilstein
- Advice to Rihanna - Mahogany Browne
All these poems and many more can be found on IndieFeed Performance Poetry, which is one of my favorite podcasts. I highly recommend checking it out (you can also subscribe via iTunes).
Poetry prompts and writing exercises are great ways to get a little creative writing done when inspiration is absent. They’re also perfect for challenging yourself as a writer to incorporate new ideas and themes into your work.
You can use prompts and exercises on days when you’re not feeling especially inspired or as a way to work on something a little different from your usual writing fare. Write a long poem, a short poem, a haiku, or a pantoum.
As long as you get the creative writing flowing and have fun with it, you’re doing it right!
These poetry prompts can be used for other types of writing too. Try using them in a short story, a blog post, or a bit of creative prose.
Use the lists of words below to write a poem. You can use all the prompts from any one list, including the list title, or you can mix and match words from different lists.
Want a super challenge? Try to write one poem using all the poetry prompts from the lists below.
Write any kind of poem you want: free verse or a form poem, like a haiku or a sonnet.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right?
Create Poetry Prompts
You can also create your own poetry prompts by flipping through the dictionary and selecting words at random. For the poetry prompts here on Writing Forward, I usually try to find words that have nothing to do with each other, and I try to include a range of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to make the poetry writing just a little more challenging.
If you try these poetry prompts, feel free to share your poems in the comments. And keep on writing!
When things get busy, it’s important for writers to keep their heads in the clouds. Don’t forget about your dreams! Don’t let your poetry fall by the wayside lest you forget to return!
Maybe you don’t have time to sit and write the way you usually do. Maybe your head is spinning with all the things you have to get done. That’s fine. Just set a few minutes aside and let these poetry prompts walk you through a brief writing session.
We’ll even keep the focus on things that are going on right now – things like food, holidays, gifts, goals, and the new year.
To use these poetry prompts, simply pick one of the lists below and write a quick poem using all of the words in the list. The lists are categorized to make choosing a little easier. Select the one that speaks to you, and then get busy writing.
If you’re not as busy as everyone else, and are feeling up for an even bigger challenge, then try making one poem with all the words from all the lists. Up the ante by using the list titles as well. Or, if you’re feeling lazy or have an itch to break the rules, go ahead and mix the lists up and just pick whatever words you want.
Just remember to have fun.
|Holiday||Food||Gifts||End of the Year||New Year|
More Tips for Using Poetry Prompts
As you work through these poetry prompts, keep the following tips in mind:
- Try to write about something unexpected. If you choose the “Holiday” list, then make your poem about anything BUT the holidays.
- Mix two or three lists of poetry prompts together and take out some words or add in a few of your own. Then, write your poem.
- Use the five list titles rather than the words in the lists.
As always, enjoy your poetry session and keep on writing!
If you give these poetry prompts a try, feel free to post your poem in the comments.
Writing exercises like poetry prompts challenge us while stirring our creativity.
And these ones are just in time for Halloween.
All Hallow’s Eve
Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the time of year when people slaughtered livestock for the coming cold months.
Because it marked a new cycle, this festival was viewed as a kind of new year celebration. It was also the time of year when the fog between our world and the world of the deceased evaporated, which meant the dead could move about in our world and wreak havoc.
During this festival, people wore costumes. They might have been disguising themselves in order to hide from evil spirits. Maybe they were trying to pacify the dearly departed.
These poetry prompts honor the tradition that is Halloween. Love it or hate it, it’s right around the corner and before you know it, those little witches and goblins will be gobbling up all your candy (or else you’ll be warding off tricks and pranks).
The rules are simple and you can change them as you see fit. Choose one of the word groups below and write a poem that contains all the words and phrases on the list. Or, scramble the lists to come up with new ones of your own.
Feeling really creative? Write a single poem containing all the words from all the lists below. Good luck.
|Sheer Horror||Ghostly Ghouls||Kids and Candy|
Have fun with these poetry prompts, and feel free to share your poems in the comments, or if you publish them online, drop a link.
And keep on writing!
Got any poetry prompts or writing exercises to share? Leave a comment!
It seems like summer always passes too quickly and winter lasts too long. Maybe that’s why fall is my favorite season. It seems to hang around just long enough. It’s not too hot, not too cold. A mild, colorful, and comfortable season.
Every fall, my creativity goes into overdrive, and I doubt this year will be any different. I’m not sure what it is about all the rusty and golden hues that fills me with inspiration, but I’m always grateful when the leaves start to turn because I know that my imagination is about get fired up.
It’s the perfect time of year to write a little poetry. The seasons have been inspiring poets for millennia, and it’s up to us modern-day writers to keep the tradition alive. The poetry prompts below are a great way to get started.
Poetry prompts are simple. Below, you’ll find three lists of words. Your task is to compose a poem using all of the words from one of the lists. You can also get creative any use any of the following alternatives:
- Mix and match random words from the three lists. Try to use 5-10 words to prompt your poem.
- Write three poems, each based on one of the lists.
- Write a single poem using all of the poetry prompts from all of the lists.
Once you’re done writing your poem, set it aside and let it sit overnight. Come back to it the next day and spend some time polishing it. You can add words, remove words, put it into form (or take it out of form). Focus especially on deleting extraneous words and phrases. Try to keep the poem as tight and concise as possible. Also, make an effort to infuse the poem with vivid imagery, which is the key to writing great poetry.
|List One||List Two||List Three|
Can you think of any fall-related words to add to these lists? If so, leave your suggestions in the comments and I’ll add them to these lists or add more lists to this collection of poetry prompts.
Discover and Share
Once you’ve finished using these prompts to write a poem (or several poems), come back and tell us what you discovered or learned through the process. Did you write a poem about autumn or did some other topic emerge? Did you come up with any compelling images for your piece? How did revising your poem improve it? Leave a comment to share your experience. And keep on writing!
Poets have a unique relationship with language. For a poet, language is more than a tool for communication; it’s a set of paints and paintbrushes that can be used to create scenes and images that resonate with readers.
A poet must then foster a loving relationship with language, learning its secrets, understanding its idiosyncrasies, and mastering its structure, then bending it to the poet’s own will.
Today’s poetry prompts pay credence to language, and encourage a more thorough mastery of grammar, sentence structure, and all things wordy.
The exercise is quite simple. From the list of poetry prompts below, select at least five words or phrases and then use them to write a poem of your own. If you want to challenge yourself, choose more than five – go for ten or fifteen, or see how many you can squeeze into one poem.
You can also challenge yourself by writing a poem that is not strictly about language, writing, or poetry. Use these words as symbols, metaphors, or personify them to give them new meaning.
You’ll find that some of these words lend themselves quite well to alternative meanings. “Dash,” for example could mean running quickly rather than a punctuation mark that looks like hyphen. Give yourself room to be creative with these poetry prompts.
- Poetry prompts
Feel free to come back and post your poem if you decide to use these poetry prompts to make a poem of your own. Even if you don’t attempt this exercise, be sure to keep on writing!
Got any poetry prompts or writing exercises to share? Leave a comment!
Throughout the centuries, poets have composed meditations on seasons, landscapes, and constellations. Vegetation and animals have been the subjects of countless poems, and even when poetry is not centered around nature, it often makes references to it.
In poetry, nature may function as the backdrop — the setting in which the action takes place. Nature, and various elements of nature, may also hold center stage. Why are so many poets compelled to write about nature?
Consider the closing stanza from “Crossings” by Ravi Shankar:
Suspended in this ephemeral moment
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed.
Word like “forest” and “field” indicate nature’s presence in this piece, but the closing line cleverly reminds us that nature is not present in individual words. Nature is reality, and it’s everywhere, all the time.
Poetry prompts are a great way to start a writing session when you’re feeling uninspired or when you simply want to try something new. Maybe you’ve never written a poem before. Maybe you’ve never written about nature. Maybe you’ve never tackled a writing exercise. Whatever your reason, these poetry prompts are meant to provide loose guidelines for kick-starting your creativity and get you pushing your pen across the page.
Below, you’ll find a list of words that relate to nature. These words are your poetry prompts. You can use these prompts in several different ways. You could choose a single word and build a poem around it as a concept. You can choose a handful of words (about five would be good) and use those words to kick off different lines or verses. Or, you could challenge yourself to write a single poem with all of the words included in it.
As you read through the list and choose which words will act as prompts for your poem, relax. Engage your imagination and visualize different images that these words might describe. Build actions with them. String them together with words from your own vocabulary. Put them in lines and verses. And make a poem.
Once you’ve written a poem, feel free to share it in the comments section, either by copying and pasting it or by posting a link to it. If you have any ideas or suggestions for poetry prompts, share your thoughts by leaving a comment. And keep on writing!
Rebirth is a common theme in poetry, so the spring season, with its fresh skies and new shoots, is a great inspiration for composition.
Summer is packed with sights, smells, and sounds: splashing water and fresh lemonade; hot dogs from the fair and bike rides on the beach.
All of these things find their way into poetry.
Poetry Prompts for Spring
As always, these poetry prompts are simple and straightforward. Choose one of the three lists and write a poem using every word in that list. Or, to really challenge yourself, try using all the words from all the lists in your poem. You can even mix and match the words on these lists however you want.
|Flower Buds||Blue-Gray Skies||Mud and Muck|
Poetry Prompts for Summer
Below, you will find five lists of words. Each list pertains to one of the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Choose one word from each list. You can mix up the words to write a free-verse poem or choose one word from each list to kick-start each verse in a five-verse poem. If you want to write a poem that appeals entirely to one sense, simply choose the list that corresponds (for example, the SMELL list) and use all the words on that list for your poem. Or, to really challenge yourself, try writing a single poem using all the words from all the lists. That ought to really tickle the senses!
Buckets & Spades
Dripping Ice cream
Lightning bugs (fireflies)
Clear blue skies
|SplashingOutdoor concerts (or beach concerts)
Thunder (don’t forget about those summer storms!)
Music blaring from convertibles
Ice cream truck/van
Buzzing bees, bumble bees buzzing, honey bees
|BarbecueChlorine (swimming pool)
Suntan lotion (or sunblock)
Freshly cut grass (wet summers like this one), parched grass (dry summers)
Fresh summer rain
|Ice creamFresh summer fruits: watermelon, plums, grapes
Flavored shaved ice, popsicles
Iced tea and lemonade
Cotton candy, popcorn
Fish & Chips
Salt water taffy
Sea (salt) water
Strawberries and cream
|(Gritty) sandWater(Feet in)
Freshly watered (or cut) grass
Water balloons in the face (via water balloon fights!)
Sun on your face
Share Your Poetry Prompts (or Your Poems)
If you write a poem using these prompts, feel free to post it in the comments. Or, post it on your blog and then come back here and drop a link.
Keep writing (and reading) poetry!
If you have any poetry prompts or writing exercises to share, feel free to post them in the comments or send them in as a guest post. And if you have any prompts to add to these lists, share them and I’ll add them in a future update.