Saturday, January 8, 2022

Sample Bonus Prompts from The Strategic Poet

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Now that the holidays have come and gone, it's time to return to your poetry. If Santa didn't bring you a copy of my latest craft book, The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft, perhaps you should gift yourself with a copy. To entice you and to give you something to work on until you have the book, I'm offering you below two of the 39 Bonus Prompts from the book.

114 fabulous poets contributed to this book, poets such as Ellen Bass, Jan Beatty, Diane Seuss, Dean Young, and George Bilgere. The book includes Craft Talks, Model Poems, Commentaries, and Prompts. It is suitable for use by poets working independently, by poets in writing groups, and by teachers in the classroom.

Here are the strategies covered in the sections of the book:

I. Descriptive Details

II. Diction

III. Imagery

IV. Sound Devices

V. Repetition

VI. Figurative Language: Simile

VII. Figurative Language: Metaphor

VIII. Figurative Language: Personification

IX. Figurative Language: Hyperbole

X. Figurative Language: Apostrophe

XI. Syntax
XII. Sonnet

XIII. Odd Forms

Each of these 13 sections ends with 3 Bonus Prompts. These focus on the specific strategy of the section. They have the twin benefits of being short and recyclable. I solicited these prompts from outstanding poets who are also outstanding teachers. Here are two of these prompts. Give them a try!

1. Section VIII focuses on Personification. The Bonus Prompt poet for that section is Kerrin McCadden, a high school English teacher in Vermont and Associate Director of The Frost Place in New Hampshire.

Your Word Bank Comes Alive
Build a ten-word word bank according to this formula: a place name (a park, a neighborhood, a city, town, or country), an insect, a weather term/event, a tool, a geographical feature, a period or event in history, a term that has to do with furniture, and three words you like the sound of. Now, write a poem in the voice of an object you care deeply about. Let the object tell its story, or talk about you, make complaints, pontificate, or muse—but you must include all the words from your word bank. In a final draft, you might kick these words out of your poem, but their job is to push your imagination into sparking through the act of weighing what you love against words you might struggle to use.

Section XII focuses on the Sonnet. Poet Jeffrey Bean provides three delightful prompts for this form. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Central Michigan University.

Animal in an Invented Sonnet
Write a sonnet about an animal. Don’t choose a traditional sonnet form—instead, devise your own fourteen-line rhyme scheme. Feel free to use meter or abandon it. Either way, use concrete imagery to bring the animal to life. What colors, smells, textures does it evoke? Try to engage all five senses and use sound and syntax to embody this animal’s movements, the noises it makes, how it feels to touch it or look at it or stand in its presence.

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