Step 1 Think of a “text” that was passed on to you as part of your culture, upbringing or education. It could be a religious text, a political one (like the US Pledge Of Allegiance or a national anthem) or perhaps a song or a film that influenced how you see and react to the world.


Step 2 Read “Paslm 150”. Then read “Psalm 150” by Jericho Brown.


Step 3 Write a poem that acts as a response to the foundational text from step 1. Try to keep your poem to about the same length as the original text.


Apologies for the lateness of this prompt.



Step 1 Think of a decision you’ve made or are about to make that did or would engender varying opinions amongst your friends and family.


Step 2 List as many of the other people’s opinions as you can, trying as much as you can to explain the points of view in such a way that the person whose opinion you’re summarizing would agree with your summary.


Step 3 Single out the ones with which you both agree most strongly and disagree most strongly.


Step 4 Read “Preface” by Jill McDonough.


Step 5 Write a poem in which you take the reader through all the varying opinions. Don’t mention your own. Start with the opinion you most agree with and end on the one you most disagree with.


Step 1 Pick an emotion. The one that springs to mind first.


Step 2 Think of three questions you’d like to ask the universe or a higher power.


Step 3 Think of something that you did or that happened to you in which you didn’t speak.


Step 4 Read “Bears at Raspberry Time” by Hayden Carruth


Step 5 Write a poem in which you use the emotion as a refrain, and tell the story from step 3. Interrupt periodically with one of the three questions, and end the poem on one of them.


Step 1: List 10 places. They can be general (“the ocean,” “a house”) or specific (“New York”).


Step 2: List the 10 most important things you’ve done recently.


Step 3: Read “Little Father” by Li-Young Lee


Step 4: Pick the item from the list of 10 things you’ve done recently that you’re most nervous to write about. Write a poem in which every stanza begins with the line “I [action from step 2] in/on [1 place from step 1]. Make each stanza use s different place from step 1. Have the stanza justify or jump off from the first line. Go wild.


Step 1: List 10 things you believe as abstract phrases (e.g., “Shopping is a mental illness.”)


Step 2: Now list 10 things you believe about an activity you regularly undertake (riding a bicycle, writing poetry, singing, cooking, etc).


Step 3: What are you afraid to write about because you don’t think you’re up to it?


Step 4: Read “The Limits Of What We Can Do” by Natalie Eilbert.


Step 5: Write a poem about the thing you’re afraid to write about, beginning with one of the 10 abstract phrases from step 1, and use at least 5 of the 10 statements about the activity from step 2.


Step 1: List 10 objects you’ve never used as images in a poem.


Step 2: Write down the name of someone you remember because of one or two events, but about whom you’ve not written much.


Step 3: Read “Classic Water” by David Berman and “Flowers of Rad” by Sampson Starkweather.


Step 4: Write a poem about that person from step 2 but make sure to use all of the images from step 1. Remember the truth is more important than the facts.


Step 1 List 10 things about your self you don’t like so much: bad habits, certain ways you look, things you want, things you think or say.


Step 2 Think of a person you admire – it can be a celebrity, a writer, a family member, etc. List 10 things about that person you wish described you.


Step 3: Read “Lana Del Rey Walks Through Airport Security” by Megan Falley. (Second poem)


Step 4: write a poem in which you, exhibiting the behaviors in step 1, encounter the person from step 2 doing/being the things you admire. OR – reverse it – have you doing the things you admire while they do the things you don’t like about yourself.


Step 1: Think of 10 absurd or magical or impossible happenings. A car begins to talk. The bears form a government. You grow an extra hand. Etc. List them.


Step 2: Now think of of 10 ordinary, expected things people do. A long line at the DMV. Everyone on their phones at a restaurant. You forgetting your umbrella. Etc.


Step 3: Read “The Star In The Hills” by William Stafford.


Step 4: Write a poem in which at least one of the happenings in step 1 occurs and people respond by doing at least one of the normal behaviors from step 2.


Step 1: Think of someone you love or admire for whom you’d like to write an elegy or eulogy.


Step 2: Pick an activity you either did with them (cooking, playing cards, driving, etc) or imagine/know they like doing.


Step 3: Read “Scrabble With Matthews” by David Wojahn.


Step 4: Write a poem in which you do the activity in step 2 with the person from step 1.