Poetry Prompts + Inspiration

As writers, we know that the most difficult task is getting started. We’ve jotted down an idea here, gotten to a full paragraph in our journal / word document / phone, thought through the final lines of the poem we have yet to write – then suddenly it’s time to make dinner, go to work, or any other infinite number of daily tasks.

In order to thwart interruption, every creative writing professor I’ve ever had has said to shut out the world for as long as it takes to get the job done, and I do think that’s excellent advice. But I also usually need a bit of a nudge in the right direction, even if it never goes anywhere, and that’s in the form of a prompt.

Here are a few prompts and some resources I always turn to when I need a little extra inspiration.



taken from Poets & Writers website
This week, construct a poem as if the words that comprise it are three-dimensional. Imagine their shape, their heft — how you must manipulate them in space to build your poem. Then print words on index cards or construct three-dimensional shapes out of cardboard and sculpt your poem with the words and shapes you’ve chosen.


Erasure Poetry

taken from Poets & Writers website
This week, try creating your own erasure poem. First, select a page of text. This could be from a book, newspaper, computer printout, advertisement—anything that’s handy. Then, take a pencil and circle the words in the text that will comprise your poem and draw a line through all the words you want to exclude. Take a thick black marker and color over the words you had drawn a line through, leaving the circled words untouched. For inspiration, read from Austin Kleon’s book Newspaper Blackout (Harper Perennial, 2010).



taken from Poets & Writers website
“When you cut into the present, the future leaks out,” William S. Burroughs stated about the cut-up technique. This method of writing poetry uses the cutting and layering of pieces of printed text to reveal meaningful insight. This week, take a printed work of writing and tear it apart. Then reassemble it in a fashion that communicates something deeper. With some clever rearranging, these cut-up words and phrases will reveal their own message.



taken from Poetry Foundation.org

What are your favorite writing prompts and inspiration?

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