Writers are always looking for new ideas. Sometimes we look so far and wide for inspiration that we’re oblivious to what’s right in front of us.
They say, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” In life, we are presented with many choices, but family is not one of them. It’s pretty much luck of the draw.
That’s why family provides excellent inspiration for writing.
Poetry prompts are a great way to do a little writing when you’re not feeling particularly inspired. The prompts provide the subject matter and a few, choice words. Below, you’ll find four lists of words. Each list focuses on a single topic. You can use these poetry prompts in any of the following ways:
- Choose one list of poetry prompts and write a poem using all the words in the list.
- Write four separate poems, each based on one of the lists.
- Mix and match random words from the lists to write a single poem.
- Write one poem using all the poetry prompts from all the lists.
- Bonus: Write a form poem (sonnet, haiku, etc.) using any of the words from the lists.
Writing a poem using prompts is a helpful exercise. To take it a step further, set your completed poem aside and come back to it the following day. Spend some time revising and polishing it. Delete any unnecessary words and make sure the poem contains images that readers can easily visualize. If you wrote a poem in form, check that you’ve adhered to the rules of the form. When you feel the poem is complete, add it to your pile of finished writing projects and think about submitting it to a poetry publication.
|Womb||Roots||Brother / Sister||Adorable|
Feel free to add to these lists by leaving a comment. Of course, each of us can come up with a host of additional words about our own families, many of which would be entirely subjective. I’ve tried to keep the lists fairly general, but as you prepare to write a poem based on these prompts, feel free to add your own words to the lists.
Discover and Share
Once your poem is completed, come back and share your thoughts about using these poetry prompts. Did you find the process easy or challenging? Which list(s) did you use? Did you polish your poem? If you’d like to share your poem, you can post it in the comments or include a link to it.
Keep writing poetry!
You know what’s great about writing prompts? On those days when you’re feeling uninspired but you want to write, they’re there for you. On days when you want to get your writing practice in but don’t particularly feel like writing, they’re there for you. Writing prompts give you a little push to kick-start a writing session, making it easier to face the ever-dreaded blank page.
I adore poetry. When I first started writing on my own, I wrote poems. The creative freedom and elusive nature of poetry captivated me, and as a music lover, I felt that writing poetry was similar to writing songs. Plus, poetry was a great way to capture and express my thoughts and feelings.
Over the years, I’ve learned that poetry is an excellent way to enrich one’s writing. Whether you’re a copywriter, storyteller, or blogger, the skills acquired through the study and practice of poetry writing will give your work flair and personality.
But where to start?
Poetry prompts are a great way to trigger creativity, and sometimes they inspire a truly wonderful piece of poetry.
Five Poetry Prompts
There are lots of different kinds of poetry prompts. Today’s prompts are word prompts.
I chose a few poems I’ve written over the years and selected five words from each poem. I thought it would be fun to take apart my art and then send pieces of it out like invitations or building blocks and see what other people would do with them.
It’s simple: you choose a list of words and then use all the words in that list to write a poem. Of course, one poem with all the words from all the lists would be fantastic! Any combination will do, really, so pluck the words from the lists below at will and use them in a poem.
|Poetry Prompts #1||Poetry Prompts #2||Poetry Prompts #3||Poetry Prompts #4||Poetry Prompts #5|
If you try these poetry prompts, feel free to post the poem you’ve written in the comments section. Have fun!
Do you have any poetry prompts you’d like to share? Post your prompts in the comments.
Today’s poetry prompts come from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is jam-packed with ideas and inspiration for writers and includes prompts for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
Some of the poetry prompts in the book ask you to use a list of specific words in a poem. Some give you a topic to write about. Some ask you to draw on your life experience. Some give you images to use as inspiration for a poem.
All of the prompts are designed to spark ideas and inspire you to write. And you don’t have to use the prompts to write poems. Use a prompt to write an essay or a blog post. If you get a prompt that contains a list of words but one of the words isn’t working in your poem, delete it from the list. If one of the images give you an idea for a story, write a story. Use the prompts in whatever way you see fit.
25 Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts
- Write a descriptive poem about a banana split: three scoops of ice cream with banana halves on either side and a big mound of whipped cream on top laced with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with chopped nuts—all topped off with a plump red cherry.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: tapestry, sings, eye, din, collide, slippery, fantasy, casting, chameleon, lives.
- Write a poem about somebody who betrayed you, or write a poem about betrayal.
- Write a poem using the following image: a smashed flower on the sidewalk.
- The hallmark of great poetry is imagery. A truly compelling poem paints a picture and invites the reader into a vivid scene. Choose an image or scene from one of your favorite poems and write a poem of your own based on that image.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: scythe, fresh, bloody, dainty, screaming, deadly, discovery, harrowing.
- Write a poem about one (or both) of your parents. It could be a tribute poem, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Write a poem using the following images: a “no smoking” sign and a pair of fishnet stockings.
- You’re feeling under the weather, so you put the teapot on. Soon it starts to scream. Write a poem about the sound of a whistling teapot.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: stem, canvas, grain, ground, leather, furrow.
- The beach, the mountains, the vast sea, and deep space are all great for tributary poems about places. Write about the city you love, the town you call home, or your favorite vacation destination.
- Write a poem using the following image: a pair of baby shoes.
- Some poems are more than just poems. They tell stories. Try writing a poem that is also a story, a play, or an essay.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: elegant, hips, fern, listless, twisting, bind, surprise.
- Write a poem about the first time you experienced something.
- Write a poem using the following image: a torn photograph.
- Although holidays have deeper meanings, we like to truss them up with a lot of decadence and nostalgia. All that food! All those presents! Oh, what fun it is…Write a poem about the holidays.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: burnt, spacious, metropolis, pacing, fiery, cannon.
- Write a poem about 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 a book.
- Write a poem using the following image: a small rowboat tied to a pier, bobbing in the water under darkening skies.
- Now that time has healed the wounds, write a poem to someone who broke your heart long ago.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: deadline, boom, children, shallow, dirt, creep, instigate.
- Write a poem about streets, highways, and bridges.
- Write a poem using the following images: a broken bottle and a guitar pick.
- Write a poem about the smell of cheesy, doughy, saucy, spicy pizza baking in the oven.
Did any of these poetry prompts inspire you to write? Which one stoked your creative flames? Did you write a poem, or were you inspired to write something else? Where do you get your best creative inspiration? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
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 of 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 poetry prompts 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–if you dare. 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.
- Fandom: 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).
The end of yet another year is just around the corner. It’s a busy season packed with holiday shopping, gatherings with friends and family, and preparationg for the new year ahead.
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, try making one poem with all the words from all the lists. Up the ante by using the list titles as well. 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|
festival of lights
forks and napkins
bows and baubles
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 writing!
If you give these poetry prompts a try, feel free to post your poem in the comments.
Poetry prompts are great for those times when you have the creative itch but just can’t seem to reach around to scratch it. Hey, we can’t be inspired every single day.
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 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 words 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? Share your suggestions in the comments.
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 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 or metaphors, or personify them to give them new meaning.
You’ll find that some of these words lend themselves quite well to alternative meanings. For example, dash could mean running quickly rather than a punctuation mark that looks like hyphen. Give yourself room to be creative with these 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 writing!
Got any poetry prompts or writing exercises to share? Leave a comment!