Five Poetry Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts.

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 of 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
  • steel
  • theory
  • saving
  • imitation
  • chisel
  • mirror
  • hazardous
  • dandelion
  • famine
  • committed
  • tapestry
  • sings
  • eye
  • din
  • collide
  • slippery
  • fantasy
  • casting
  • chameleon
  • lives
  • deadline
  • boom
  • children
  • shallow
  • dirt

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.

Creative Writing Prompts

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

40 Responses to “Five Poetry Prompts”

  1. Tanya says:

    You do not strike me as before
    Your touch is cold steel
    I try to pull fragments of truth out from your eyes
    Only to find endless depths of deception
    You are simply an imitation of the
    Man I fell in love with
    I must now chisel my heart
    From your hands
    Saving what is left of it
    For my theory of true love
    -Tanya Pyle 1/04/08

  2. Nice Tanya! I especially like:

    You are simply an imitation of the / Man I fell in love with

  3. I love these sorts of challenges. Any chance you’d consider making poetry exercises a regular feature? I’ve allowed my poetry to lapse as well, this is the first since October and they were sporadic before then too. :-( I would love to get back into writing poetry regularly but like you found my priorities turning elsewhere. A regular challenge could be the kick needed to keep producing despite our busy lives.

    Anyway, here is my result. I’m into heaping the challenge so instead of picking one list, I used them all and was very surprised with the direction it went. :-) What do you think?

    Children of War

    Hidden in a prison of steel,
    broken glass mirroring the darkness,
    dankness, destruction, are shallow graves
    built to house bones of ash death,
    and wisps of children, clothed in famine
    and washed in dirt. They shiver in the shadows;
    chameleons within the chiseled rock,
    crumbled stone, and shards of lives.
    Memories collide with the din of distant thunder.
    Casting off the shackles of youth
    they pull about them, the shrouds of manhood;
    an imitation born from the womb of survival.

    But in the hazardous dreamtime, they cling,
    with hungry glass eyes open,
    to slippery fantasies
    of dandelion fields in the summer.
    They fear the boom, the clang, the metal teeth,
    that heralds the moving dead-line, the only escape,
    and sing silent songs in a woven tapestry
    of light and laughter long forgotten;
    saving raw throats for their most tortured gasps.
    Sitting on the cold hard floors of institutionalization
    they are nothing more than a theory,
    the committed, a mind lost before the soul.

    Sincerely,
    Rebecca Laffar-Smith

  4. Wow, Rebecca! What a vivid piece. I especially love the lines:

    But in the hazardous dreamtime, they cling,

    and

    …the boom, the clang, the metal teeth,

    You’ve made me long for a poetry workshop. I used to get great enjoyment from them, and they sure helped me improve my poetry! Perhaps we should start one here at WF…

  5. Tom says:

    I like what I read here. If I gather my courage, I’ll be back to participate.

    Thank you for putting this site up.

    Tom
    Sequim, Washington

  6. Thanks Tom! I hope you do come back and participate. Keep writing :)

  7. Christie says:

    Well I just found this because I searched for poetry prompts to get writing again too! So this may be a little late but…here’s mine.

    The sounds that I hear
    Paint a tapestry in my mind.
    My eyes, though they are closed
    see everything;
    Every motion sings out
    Shouts to be heard.
    Nothing is missed.
    Though to some
    all sound seems a din
    and all noise simply
    collides
    to me
    each word
    each sound
    is different.
    I follow
    the conversations
    eavesdropping
    in plain sight.
    Once again
    I go unnoticed
    as I paint
    this tapestry.

    • Hi Christie, Aren’t poetry prompts helpful? When I want to write a poem but don’t feel very inspired, I often use prompts and writing exercises to get going. You did a good job on this piece; it has a really soft, gentle cadence. I’ll have to get more prompts and poetry exercises up on the site soon. Thanks!

      • Christie says:

        I would greatly appreciate any writing prompts that you have! So far I can’t find any really good websites. Most of them are too easy, such as “write a poem about your first pet” etc. etc. I like challenging ones such as your prompts better. They kind of get my thoughts going, and let me spend a bit more time. Thanks!

  8. SKingrey says:

    This is supposed to be centered but I couldn’t do that here. It reads better. :)

    The Job

    She tiptoes to the study,
    quietly closing the door,
    ready to writes people’s lives,
    just like she has before.
    Some call it “dishing dirt”,
    others, “lowering the boom”,
    but either way it is truth.
    She gets paid only
    if the deadline is made.
    She taps out shallow promises
    politicians use.
    and uncovers the powerful
    by telling how they abuse
    their power, then makes it news.
    It’s important to hurry
    before the children rise.
    After all, she’s only a mom,
    in their eyes.
    So she wraps it
    all up neatly and ends
    with a smile, and sighs softly,
    As she finally hits, “send”.

  9. BTownsend says:

    To the children of Uganda
    a deadline is a line
    that can’t be crossed –
    if you do, you’re shot dead.
    It has nothing to do with time.

    To the children of Uganda, boom
    boom is the sound of war
    The repeated sound a gun makes –
    not a box that plays loud music.

    The disposable children
    of Uganda lie in shallow graves
    tucked under gritty blankets
    of blood and dirt.

  10. BTownsend says:

    Melissa,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    BTownsend

  11. BTownsend says:

    She stood in the doorway
    casting a glance
    around
    the darkened room,
    hoping not to find him.

    But there he was,
    the slippery chameleon,
    at the end of the bar
    draped all over
    the blonde,
    his inconsistent lives
    changing colors.

    Right in front of her eyes,
    a bitter end
    to a sweet fantasy.

  12. BTownsend says:

    Moon Song

    Lift one thread in this tapestry
    of life and everything

    comes with it. The eye
    of the hurricane is not blotted

    out by the din of the wind,
    they do not collide.

    Every night the moon sings
    the sun to sleep.

  13. BTownsend says:

    Kids for Kids

    In her rear view mirror,
    their emaciated bodies faded
    from sight, but the face of famine
    and terror was etched in her memory.

    She vowed to return to Darfur
    and do something
    when no one else would;
    but she didn’t leave home alone,
    entirely.

    Ahead of her, the southwest wind
    blew dandelion wishes
    for peace,
    hope,
    and happiness
    from the children of the UK
    to the children of Darfur.

    Patricia brought things more tangible:
    goats and crossbred donkeys,
    carts and handpumps,
    Baobab seeds and ploughs.

    When Patricia returned to Darfur,
    the whole world followed.

  14. BTownsend says:

    Truth Saving

    Chisel away each thought.
    Steel yourself against theory
    in favor of direct experience
    only. Accept no imitation.
    Sift through every experience
    in favor of truth-saving only.

  15. I used all five prompts and created set of poems I titled “Verses in an Empty Travel Guide.” They came out quite nice. I’ll post two here.

    II.
    I’ve been told
    I’m insane.
    I won’t argue with those
    who don’t speak to mirrors
    Or who don’t butter both
    sides of their toast.

    Not a single dandelion grows
    out of my palm
    since the day I was committed.
    And Earth’s famine (mankind) gives me
    heartburn.

    III.
    View this tapestry:
    A young man’s metal god
    drinks to the health of
    the molten core.

    Unaware, he sings a din
    while violins revolt
    and set his piano on fire.

    The fire.
    That is what catches the eye.

    • Wow, these are great Brian. Thank you so much for sharing them here. I hope you’ll come back with more. I especially love the ending “That is what catches the eye.” My favorite poem endings are ones that make you think and visualize an image. Awesome.

  16. Patsy says:

    Five Poetry Prompts

    Mirror of my Past

    Standing in a dandelion field,
    With my eyes upon him, my heart did yield.

    If only a hazardous sign had been erected,
    Maybe my heart wouldn’t have been rejected.

    The famine for passion I felt inside,
    Set me up for a rollercoaster ride.

    As I look into the mirror of my past,
    I see love committed that would never last.

  17. nancy wagner says:

    I really like this poetry prompts feature–hope it continues.

  18. Greg Cameron says:

    I’m going for poetry prompt #4 here. I’m improvising at a library terminal so regard in a charitable spirit, as it were. Here goes…..

    Intertwined

    I’m a chameleon
    oh yes I am
    this colour and that
    twisting in your long fingers
    weaving in and out
    slipping and insinuating
    knowing the touch
    of your skin
    our lives stand
    in contrapuntal relation
    oh no…it’s a fugue!
    sound but no echo
    we just intertwine
    so fine
    curl up and down
    and all around
    so much pleasure
    there ought to be a
    law against it
    oh darling touch! touch!
    and if all this
    seems a fantasy
    well, permit me to add
    another twist
    and you’ll see
    just how much
    I love you
    we’ll both change colours
    and sprinkle this
    grey universe
    with rainbows
    paintings
    collages
    sprays of brightness
    counterpoints of colour
    and when our
    faces meet
    our tongues will
    flick out
    at each other…..

    (Greg Cameron, Poem, December, 2010, Surrey, B.C., Canada…with a flick of the tongue!)

  19. Greg Cameron says:

    (I’m going for poetry prompt #2 – I’m tired so don’t expect too much)

    Every Mirror Cracked

    how can you look in the mirror?
    outside the sky is falling
    the sun prepares to explode
    introspection is a hazarous activity
    news of the world –
    another famine, another genocide
    leaves lick the wind
    dandelion seeds scatter
    clouds try to get away
    waters turn to blood
    white turns black
    the whole thing threatens
    to screech to a halt
    everything depends on you
    glance at the clock
    your dog paws at the window
    drops of moisture start to
    run down the wall
    you remain committed
    to the cause
    hopeful everything can be
    ‘fixed’
    salvation is but
    a click away
    and when you press
    everything goes up
    with a

    BANG!!!!!!!!

    (Greg Cameron, Poem/Improvisation, December, 2010, Surrey, B.C., Canada)

  20. Tim says:

    Hi
    Ths is one of the best writing-prompts websites l’ve found in a fair while, so firstly: thanks for that!

    Although the original lot of resposnes to the set of poetry prompts have been done and considered some time ago, I’d like to offer this one I did today, for #4 -that included words ‘chameleon’, ‘slippery’ etc:

    A wizard’s chameleon

    A wizard’s chameleon keeps a tight grip
    on its slippery branch,
    considering its next prey
    while the robed figure in the study
    practises casting spells that might or might not affect other lives –
    the wizard is not as strong with his magic
    as his reptile is at keeping its grip.

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