Poetry Prompts for Paying Tribute
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.