Writing Prompts


First of all, it’s nice to have a place to just write, without any expectations of it being good. Here is such a place that has worked for me and for a number of people I know.

Here are some books I recommend to folks who need some help getting started writing or teaching poetry:

My Old Standbys:

Robin Behn and Chase Twichell’s The Practice of Poetry. This has saved me over the years. I’ve used and adapted the poetry exercises for every level. I recommend it highly.

Kenneth Koch’s Wishes, Lies, and Dreams virtually invented how to reach children with poetry. I recommend all his books on teaching.

For the Beginner:
Steve Kowit’s In the Palm of Your Hand is a very user-friendly guide for beginners.

Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano’s The Daily Poet gives you a year of poetry exercises.

I love the Rose Metal Press guides. This one is for prose poems but there’s also a terrific one for flash fiction and flash nonfiction.

For the more Advanced Writer:

I recommend Mary Kinzie’s Poet’s Guide to Poetry if you already have some familiarity with writing. It’s a tome, but filled with excellent discussions of line, stanza, image, metaphor, and most interestingly for me, diction and syntax.

For a visual kick:

Go to The Sketchbook, a great visual blog, and start a piece that begins from today’s sketch.

Online resources:
Here’s the famous list of Writing Experiments from Bernadette Mayer

Here are 30 prompts from Kelli Russell Agodon’s website, The Book of Kells.

There’s an actual website called Poetry Prompts. I just found it, so it might be for very beginning students, but sometimes when you’re stuck, it helps to go back to the beginning.

And here’s an assignment I give to my students whenever I think they’re getting bored:

Anglo Saxon Verse Assignment