29 April 2016

Final Five Prompts for Poetry Month

Blossoming into May, and the end of National Poetry Month

Your final five poetry prompts for the month of April. Choose one, choose all, or forge your own path, but round out the month with a few more poems.

1.  Write an honesty poem. This is a poem where you are brutally honest about something. It works best if you are honest with yourself. These poems aren't necessarily for public consumption, so see how deep you can dig within yourself. 

2.  Think about shoes. Love them? Hate them? Prefer to go barefoot? When did our ancestors go from protective foot covering to fancy-dancy 6 inch tall? In the future will all our shoes be custom molded for our feet? I've had the same pair of comfy hiking boots for 30 years, how about you? What shoes earn a place in your hall of fame?

3.  Turn off the television, silence your phone, and spend ten minutes listening to the outside world. What do you hear? What has become background noise? Can you identify all the sounds around you? Write a poem using sense imagery, particularly as it relates to sounds. Make us 'see' the flower in all its technicolor glory, or stinky glory as the case may be.

4.  "April showers bring May flowers" Think of a favorite - or hated - flower. Write a poem where you explore your feelings about that flower. Do a little research into the meaning of the flower, including where it grows and what it traditionally stands for. 

5.  String. There aren't enough poems out there about string. Help fill this void. Write about the world's biggest ball of string and what happens when it runs wild. Write about string holding things together, or keeping them apart. What can you do with string? Be inventive and take us along for the ride. 

15 April 2016

5 Words to Use in Poems

Spring stream flowing near Hulett.


looking or sounding sad and dismal.
mournful, gloomy, sad, unhappy, doleful, glum, melancholy, woeful, 
miserable, woebegone, forlorn, somber, solemn, serious, sorrowful, morose, dour, cheerless, joyless, dismal

Origin: Latin lugubris, from lugēre to mourn; akin to Greek lygros mournful


(of a person, event, or behavior) noisy, energetic, and cheerful; rowdy.
"the boisterous conviviality associated with taverns of that period"
synonyms: lively, animated, exuberant, spirited, rambunctious; More
(of wind, weather, or water) wild or stormy.
"the boisterous wind was lulled"
synonyms: blustery, gusty, windy, stormy, wild, squally, tempestuous; More
Origin of boisterous
Middle English boistous crude, clumsy, from Anglo-French


a very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one.
"we swerved toward the edge of the precipice"
synonyms: cliff face, cliff, steep cliff, rock face, sheer drop, height, crag, bluff, escarpment, scarp; literarysteep

Origin of precipice
French, from Middle French, from Latin praecipitium, from praecipit-, praeceps headlong, from prae- + caput head


1.  heavy material, such as gravel, sand, iron, or lead, placed low in a vessel to improve its stability.
2.  gravel or coarse stone used to form the bed of a railroad track or road.
1. give stability to (a ship) by putting a heavy substance in its bilge.
"the vessel has been ballasted to give the necessary floating stability"
2. form (the bed of a railroad line or road) with gravel or coarse stone.

Origin of ballast
probably from Low German, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Dan & Swedish barlast ballast; 
perhaps akin to Old English bær bare & to Old English hlæst load, hladan to load 


1. having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration.
"the most glorious victory of all time"
synonyms: illustrious, celebrated, famous, acclaimed, distinguished, honored; 
2.having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.
"a glorious autumn day"
synonyms: wonderful, marvelous, magnificent, superb, sublime, spectacular, lovely, fine, delightful

Origin of glorious
Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French glorios, from Latin gloriosus glorious, 
vainglorious, from gloria

09 April 2016

5 Places to Get Your Poetry Fix Online

Crab apple blossoms on the Periphery

Home of Poetry Magazine, Harriet Blog, and all kinds of poems. Browse poems and poets by poetic style, generation, or type of work. Nature poetry, political poetry, Beat poetry, they've got you covered. Articles and resources for improving your poetry. First place I turn for what's interesting in the poetry world.

Subtitled "A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003".  180 contemporary poems you can work your way through, ranging from whimsical to pointed. If you're ambitious, do a Google search for Billy Collins Poems on YouTube, just to hear how he reads them.

I love reading the back issues of this magazine. They generously make a lot of poems available to read online. The Conversations with poets are an interesting insight into the craft. A year's subscription is well worth it.

You know those poems you hear read on NPR by a sonorous voice? That would be Garrison Keillor. Whenever I want to see if my poem is working, I imagine it being read in Garrison Keillor's voice. Find the daily Writer's Almanac and an archive of poems here.
Home of Classic Poetry Aloud, where you go when you need a taste of the old school poems. Dickinson, Kipling, Longfellow, Shakespeare. It's where I go when I want to reconnect to my childhood and poems that rhyme. Some days I just need to see if I remember all the lines to The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Or Dickinson -- All together now:  "Hope is the thing with feathers -- That perches in the soul -- And sings the tune without the words...

01 April 2016

5 Prompts to Kick Off Poetry Month

It's that time of year, National Poetry Month. Lots of places are offering prompts and places to post your work, I thought I'd do the same. Here are some poetry prompts to get you rolling. Feel free to post the results in comments. 

1.  Describe the night without using the words 'black' or 'darkness'. Take us to your version of night, and let us see - or not see - what it's like. Remember to use your five senses to carry us along. 

2.  It's happened to all of us. A special piece of music sets our toes to tapping, it makes us want to get up out of our chair and dance. For me, I wanted to jump up and waltz, even though I know nothing of ballroom dancing. Write a poem about this feeling. See if you can move us out of our chairs. For a bigger challenge, don't name the piece of music or artist. Just write the results. 

3.  Unfortunately, I watched Disney's "Frozen" the other night. Now I'm earwormed by the song 'Let It Go'. What is something you can let go of? Write a poem about letting go. Was it difficult. Easy once you put your mind to it? Conversely, write a poem about clinging to something beyond all reason. Why won't you let it go?

4.  Write a poem about water. Look for water based words and incorporate them into your imagery. Is there a particular type of water you're attracted to more than others? Thunderstorms? Ocean tides? A rushing stream? The implicit power inherent in water held back by a dam? The way ordinary water turns into tasty, tasty coffee just when you need it?

5.  Since it's spring, and the start of April, write a flower poem. Think outside the box, go beyond the ordinary descriptions. Go to a great cosmic meaning - or down to a molecular level. Just write, then rewrite it with an eye toward removing the ordinary. Think about Emily Dickinson's "With A Flower"

With A Flower - Emily Dickinson

I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too -
And angels know the rest.

I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

Or how about this gorgeous poem that wraps language around you like a blanket?

Labor as a Tulip
by Karen Volkman

Labor as a tulip
arrays its flame, nu
form, as the bulb-star,
interred, divines its ore

surging the gulf
rooting it into
appalled memento
pulsing will.

Leaf-blades score the heap.
Other wounds—penetralia—
other worlds, cries, far.
Filaments, simples

emblazoning the rei,
rebus of grief.
Unslumbering terra
premising her kill.