Saturday, March 27, 2010

NaPoWriMo: 30 New Poetry Prompts for National Poetry Month

For those who don't know, NaPoWriMo = National Poetry Writing Month where people vow to write a poem a day.

Every year I list 30 writing exercises, but I realize I've posted the same writing prompts 2 years in a row, so this year, I put together 30 new writing prompts for April.

I haven't quite decided if I'm going to participate in NaPoWriMo this year since I did a similar exercise with poets in February, but I'm feeling inspired, so maybe I will.

If you want to participate, here are some writing prompts I hope inspire you and your poems--


1. Write a poem that uses at least five of these words: sizzle, calico, mumble, marrow, fossil, cinnamon, chant, arrowhead, Jupiter, Saturn, dunes. Repeat one of those words three times in your poem.

2. Open the closest book to you to page 46. Count down 7 lines. That is the first line or the title of your poem.

3. Write a poem in the voice of fictional character (literary, cartoon, fairytale, etc.) you’ve always liked, but in the poem, have that character do something that you disagree with.

4. Take a poem you’ve written but never liked and circle the best words from that poem. Have those words end the lines in a new poem you will write.

5. Write a poem to your favorite constellation.

6. Write a poem where the opening line is something you’ve recently overhead in public (i.e. “I can’t find any bananas without spots, black spots everywhere…)

7. Take a cliché and play with it until you have something surprising, make that your opening line, title, or the last line to your poem.

8. Write to something (or someone) beautiful that is no longer here.

9. Title your poem, “Self-Portrait with ___________” and start writing from there.

10. Turn on some jazz music. Write a poem to the rhythm of the song you are listening to.

11. Write a poem in sentences that are no more than five words each.

12. Write a poem without punctuation about a secret you know or wish you knew.

13. Take these six words—Anteros, crippled, 
spindles, stairwell, threshold, and whirligig—and incorporate them into a poem.

When you’re done, send the finished poem to this anthology:
thelistanthology(at) (replace (at) with @)
by May 15, 2010.

 Submissions will only be accepted via e-mail.

Visit for more information.

14. Write an ode to something you dislike or something yucky.

15. Write a poem made up completely of lies, except make one line the truth.

16. Write a hundred words about someone who is living, but no longer in your life.

17. Write a list poem using only concrete nouns. Make the title an abstract word such as: Compassion, Jealousy, Envy, Wisdom, etc.

18. Find a very small scrap of paper and write your poem on that. See if the small space changes how/what you write.

19. Write a poem about something that feels dangerous to you.

20. Close your eyes and try to type out a country or city scene you can see in your mind.

21. Write a poem where the title is longer than the poem.

22. Take one word and repeat it at the end of every other line in your poem.

23. Write a poem that contains only questions.

24. Write ten favorite words on ten slips of paper. Begin your poem with “When I found…” Without looking, pick one of the words you’ve written and use it in your poem. Now, write 9 more lines and do the same thing for each line.

25. Find some crayons, colored markers, or colored pens/pencils and draw a picture of something, anything. Now write a poem about what you drew.

26. Grab the local paper or go online and choose a headline from the science or lifestyle section of the newspaper. Write a poem with that as the title.

27. Write down 6 things you did yesterday. Write down 6 questions you have about life. Write down 6 interesting images. Choose 3 from each category and use them in a poem.

28. Write a poem on a postcard. After you type the poem into your computer, mail the poem off to a friend.

29. Write a poem with a question as the title, but do not answer the question in the poem.

30. Write a poem where your first, last or middle name features prominently.

Congrats! You finished a month of poems! Now reward yourself by buying yourself a book of poems from a favorite or new poet.

See you next year!
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