So NaPoWriMo is officially underway here at the Cove. At the best of times, a blank page is a daunting place, much less during a challenge like NaPoWriMo.
Poetry prompts are an excellent way to get words onto the page. An estimated 90% of my poems exist because I followed prompts. If I suggest you write about the sky and earth, that’s okay. You get some words on the page, and I’ve pulled together some prompts to get you through April.
So to get you started, I’ve got 27 easy prompts to ease you into NaPoWriMo.
Table of Contents
Nope. I’m not asking you to get someone to write a poem for you. I’m taking a class by Sabrina Benaim, and she gave us this exercise. Think of a song lyric or a line of poetry. That will be your first line, and you’re going to continue writing. For example, if I used the line ‘She says the moon is overrated’ from the Jonas Brothers ‘Out Of This World’, I might write ‘She says the moon is overrated, but she always wishes on stars.’ And then (yes, there’s more), remove the song lyric or line of poetry, and you have a poem!
It’s All About The Senses
I always remember my English teacher setting us the task of writing a story using only two senses. I kind of cheated, I guess, and used sight and touch, the two most apparent senses, the senses that give the reader the most information. The task was to challenge us as writers to write a scene with only taste and smell. So I give you the same challenge: write a poem using only one sense. Bonus points if you use a ‘harder’ sense such as taste. Write a poem about how your favourite meal tastes. Write a poem about what you smell when you open your window.
Where [Blank] Comes From
I like a poem by Nikita Gill called ‘Where Hope Comes From.’ Choose an abstract noun and write your poem. For example: Where love comes from, Where peace comes from, Where laughter comes from.
And now we jump into prompts for the second week of April.
So let’s put things into perspective. To quote the song ‘POV’ by McFly, I’m looking at you from another point of view, and while I doubt that McFly thought that a song from their 2008 album Radio:active would feature in a 2022 poetry article, it inspired the theme for these prompts. Point of view is an excellent tool we, as writers, can use to write something new. Even if you write five poems about the exact moment, it can work well if it’s from different perspectives.
So I’ve pulled together prompts that will get you reimagining poetry for days!
This prompt is a fun one. Choose an object, any object. Mug, pen, tree, watch, anything you want. Write a poem from the point of view of that object. Think about its purpose in the world. Think about who uses it and where it’s kept. If I were writing from the POV of a pen, I might describe how it feels to leave ink on the page and for someone to hold me. What happens when the pen breaks? But also think about the language the object might use, the kind of voice it would have if it would talk. My gold coloured pen I got with a diary might use the Queen’s English, but my sparkly pink gel pen might have a Birmingham accent. Try to bring that character into your poem.
Hear Me Rawr
Check out this list of animal facts. Use them to write about their habitats. See if you can apply human emotion to that animal.
The Good Ol’ Days
This is a fun one, although a tad cliché. We’ve all read poems that are a ‘letter to my younger self.’ I’ve written several of these. But try writing a verse from the perspective of your younger self. Choose any age you want and think about what you liked back then, who your friends were and your teachers. What do you wish you knew back then?
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree
The prompt might be controversial, but I’ve tried it before, and it’s complicated but so much fun. Write a poem from the perspective of a family member. This is especially interesting if the person is younger than they are now. For example, if I were to write about my Gran when she was in her twenties. Think about what the world was like back then. Think about what they did for work and who they had relationships with. What did they think of their future?
I Just Blew In From The Windy City
The weather is a trope in poetry. It’s kind of like the moon. We’ve all written poems, including the moon and some type of weather. But let’s flip it. Write a poem from the point of view of the weather. What does it feel like the wind when it blows through your hair? What does the sun see on a summer’s day? What does the rain think as it falls on a window?
I Got My Poem On My Mind
Take it easy with this one. I invite you to write a love letter from your body to you. Think of a specific body part. Perhaps your hands thank you for using them to write with. Maybe your hair likes the way you style it. Maybe your nose thanks for wearing a beautiful perfume. Or perhaps your body is telling you to take care of yourself, rest, and drink more water. But this is a love letter.
Out Of This World
Full disclosure: The Jonas Brothers have a song called ‘Out Of This World’ from their 2007 self-titled album, and I loved this song. So sticking with that theme, write a poem from the point of view of an alien. What do they do on a day-to-day basis? Do they have hobbies? What would they think of your living room?
And we’re already jumping feet first into week three!
Another excellent way of jumping into a poem is experimenting with poetic forms. This might make me a hypocrite because I don’t use form. I’m strictly a free verse kind of girl. However, experimenting with form does have its benefits. Using the constraints of specific rhyme schemes or syllables per line, you’re inclined to think up alternative words to make the poem fit the form. Just give it a try and see what happens. But there aren’t any grades, so don’t get stressed. Writing is about having fun!
But just a quick note: most poetic forms have a few different versions, but we’re just going to look at the best-known versions.
It’s All About Haiku
There’s a chance that you’ve looked at Haikus and maybe even tried your hand at one before in school. When I was eight, I remember writing a haiku about the football world cup, of all things! Anyway, Haiku is a form of poetry originally from Japan. The Haiku is made up of just three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven syllables, and the third has five. The key with Haiku is to be concise. Keep it brief. Haikus are about a single moment or image. But they can be compelling.
Give Me An A, Give Me A C, Give Me Acrostic
I am so sorry for the subheading, but I’m trying to be cute. But hear me out. In my experience, acrostic poems are usually written by children spelling out their names. At least, that’s how I remember it. However, we can use this technique even in more ‘serious’ and ‘in-depth’ poetry. You can use the first letter of each line to emphasize the overall message of your poem or add a new layer.
Roses Are Red, Sonnets Are Hard
I think it’s safe to say that sonnets are most associated with the bard himself, William Shakespeare, and his most well-known sonnet is Sonnet 18 ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ There are a lot of technical aspects to the sonnet with a combination of meter and rhyme. However, let’s focus on the syllables. Write a fourteen-line poem with ten beats on each line. Just limiting yourself to several beats of syllables can make you look at imagery differently.
List It All
Ah, the list poem. It’s sometimes misunderstood as a simple form. I mean, it’s a list, right? How does that make up a poem? But the key to a successful lies in subtext. If you’re listing cities, what’s the connection? If you list ten meals, why are you listing them together? A great way to link it all together is either the title or the last line.
Ode to the Ode
An ode is typically a lyrical poem praising a specific person, idea, place, or event. Sharon Olds’ collection Odes is an excellent example of the kind of things you can write odes about. But basically, you can write an ode about anything as long as it completely praises the subject. So write about your favourite person or food or something that brings you joy.
Leave It To The Prose
The definition of a prose poem can be a bit…vague. However, the key feature of a prose poem is that there are no line or stanza breaks while still using similes, metaphors, and imagery. Sometimes, prose poems have a certain fantastical quality but give it a try!
A Love Letter To The Poem
I’m not sure this is technically a ‘form,’ but I’m rolling with it. Write a poem with the title ‘Dear [Blank].’ Write a letter to someone (you can change their name/other details later). Tell them everything you want to say or write a poem of complete lies. Just make it clear it’s addressed to someone.
And now we’re heading into the final week. The ending is in sight!
Location, Location, Location
Another excellent way of writing brand-new poems is writing about this world we live in. So here are seven prompts about place and location to get us to the finish line!
The First Thing I See Is…
Okay, I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I take the place where I live for granted. So I’m asking you to look out of your bedroom window and write a poem. Focus on the details. What colours do you see? Do you see any people? Who are they? What about animals?
Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane?
Think about the place you live. Think about the vibe or energy, the people, the buildings. What represents your town? Either literally (in terms of a symbol on signposts or a specific animal etc.) Or make up a symbol. What do you think represents the place you live. For me, seagulls represent where I live. Tell the story about that.
Back In The Day
We all have a place we remember fondly from our childhood, a place we thought was magical, and we have special memories of that place. It could be your bedroom, a park, a museum, someone’s house. Consider the objects in that setting. Who else was there? What did you do? Now You’re older, are your memories accurate, or has nostalgia clouded everything? Write about that place.
The Bucket List
We all have at least one place we want to go. And this place could be big or small. For example, I want to go to New York, but at the same time, I want to go to the book shop in town because I haven’t been in a while. Write about that place. Why do you want to go? What do you think it’ll be like?
Take Me Back
Write about a place you want to go back to. Again: it can be big or small. I want to go back to Cornwall because I thought it was beautiful and quiet. But I also want to go back to York because I like the shops there.
Oh, The Places You’ll Look At On Google Maps
Go onto Google maps and visit a random part of the world. Go to a random country, a random road, and write about what you see. Try to imagine who lives in this place. What happens here? Is it a quiet place? Is it busy? Loud?
Right There, Right Now
Think of the moment you’re reading this sentence, even if you’re reading it ten years from when the moment was posted. Where do you want to be right now? Somewhere abroad? Just down the road? Maybe you’re content with where you are right now. Tell us why.
You made it to day thirty. Congratulations! I hope you had fun! Don’t forget to post your poems over on the Poetry Cove forum!