Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Thoughts on Using Poetry Prompts


I was recently delighted to come across Amorak Huey’s article, “Writing Poems from Prompts,” in the 2015 Poet’s Market. The article made me happy because I’m a poet who enjoys the challenge of prompts. I know that not all poets do and some even dismiss them and say that “real poets” don’t use prompts. I know lots of real poets who do indeed use them, and I count myself among them. I find, as does Huey, that a prompt will push me in a direction I might not otherwise have traveled. I enter new territory, sometimes strange and surprising. I’m given ideas on days when I just don’t have any. Who among doesn’t have some of those days? I also like prompts because they often compel me to focus on some aspect of craft; thus, I grow as a poet. Huey quotes professor W. Todd Kaneko who says, “. . . I think writing prompts are most useful when they are based around an element of craft.” Me too. If you subscribe to my Poetry Newsletter, you already know that I agree with this. If you have my book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, you know I agree that prompts are cool.

Huey’s article includes a list of five tips for using prompts effectively. My favorite tip is #3: “If one prompt is falling flat, combine it with another. The creative process benefits immensely from the friction of two disparate forces.” Read the entire article to get the other four tips.

The article ends with a “List of Six Stellar Sources of Poetry Prompts.” I was tickled silly to find The Crafty Poet included! Here’s the entire list, one blog plus five books. You might also consider this a list of suggestions for holiday gifts for your students, your pals, and yourself.

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