Writing prompts (blog post ending with a line by Shawna Lemay) (LentBlog29)

after Shawna Lemay


Write a poem about the rain. Or the wind.
Write about what you learned at university.
Or did not learn at school.
Write a list poem about what has disappointed you.
Write part two of that poem about the reasons you have to be happy.
Write in praise of your favourite possession.
Write about dancing with another being in your kitchen.
Write a really long title as the signpost to a one word poem.
Write in the voice of an abstract noun (silence, road rage, disenfranchisement).
Celebrate being alive.
Write about what everyone knows but no one is talking about.
Write a prayer.
Write in support of saving your favourite arts organisation.
Write about a painting.
Write about when you first heard jazz.
Write using at least three lines that you repeat throughout the poem (but not a villanelle or pantoum).
Write an open letter to a favourite poet, living or dead.
Write a poem whose first and last lines are exactly the same.
Re-write a Bible story.
Write about driving at night.
Pull out an old family photograph and write about it.
Discover an overlooked detail from a favourite painting.
Remember when you learned to drive?
Write a ten-line poem in which you tell the entire story of someone’s life.
Write about the time you looked into someone else’s apartment and glimpsed everything you needed to know.
Write a poem ending with the word ‘biscuit’.
A poem on poetry. You know you want to.
Sit at a table where other people have recently been talking. Write what you notice.
Your nationality has changed overnight.
Write about public events (without mentioning them).
Write about something you always carry with you.
Write about food.
Write about hospital.
Write about Grief.
Write about your spirituality.
Write a poem about writing prompts.



[Final line taken from Asking by Shawna Lemay]


    1. Thank you so much Shawna. But I need to thank you. Your fingerprints are all over it. I am hugely enjoying Asking at the moment, to which I am indebted. With best wishes to you as ever, Anthony


  1. Thanks for the wonderful links – a great introduction to your blog.

    Having read and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Things I Learned at University, Kate Bingham, from Cohabitation (Seren, 1998)’ and your comment:

    “The wit of ‘Things I Learned at University’ is twofold. From the use of the past tense in the title we learn that the person writing the poem is not the person doing the learning, but a person writing about another person. The magic shift in perspective created by hindsight allows experience to be presented, without commentary, with wry and affectionate summary.”

    I feel as if I’m missing something – could I ask how did you came to this conclusion?


    1. Hi Petrina. Thank you for your comment. I think what I am alluding to is the tension at the heart of all lyric poetry. Even if the event, object, loved one or experience in the poem is very recent, the fact that it belongs in the past means that the person writing (and reading) the poem cannot be the same as the person to whom the event/experience happened. So there is always a gap, between lived experience and what is written down, shaped if you will, by the knowledge that time has intervened in the process not only of summarising the experience, but also changing the way that we perceive it. With good wishes, Anthony


      1. Thanks Anthony. I had wondered if that was what you were alluding to, so it’s good to know I was on the right track.


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