If you enjoy these prompts, please buy Porsha's latest book, I Shimmer Sometimes, Too from Button Poetry.
Parable. Tell the story of your parents meeting, not as the origin story of you, but as the conclusion to their own stories. Try and use a vocabulary you don't usually employ, be it fairy tale language, a technical support manual, a cheesy romance novel, whatever sparks you to tell a story in an unusual way.
My Mother. Ask someone important to you to tell you a story that you didn't previously know about them, but that they would feel comfortable with you sharing with others through your writing. Take their literal story and make it into something akin to a folk tale or a tall tale. Use their story to make them a legend.
I Am Neither The Poem Nor The Words, Nor The Letters, Nor The Images They Elicit. Go back in your own history to a time where you were extremely uncomfortable, not just because of the people around you, but because of the physical place you were in. Give yourself a mantra and running commentary to be calmer. Come out of our memory of the event feeling calmer than you felt coming out of the actual event.
The Electric Slide Is Not A Dance, Man. Take a physical activity, be it a dance move, a pattern for scoring in a sport, a repeated motion you have to make at your job, and dissect it as though it were something else competely. Tell us how a Flea Flicker is like being a wingperson for a socially awkward person, or how directing cars how to park at a concert is like having a political discussion with your family.
Aladdin's Genie Of Emancipation. What if you were a genie, freed by someone who plans on using your wish granting power to hurt others. What wishes do they make? How do you use semantics to give them what they ask for without giving them what they want?
Look At What I've Done! Most of us have killed bugs before. Why? What specific benefit did it afford you? Most ofus have also imagined killing someone before. Maybe not with any specifics. Maybe just wishing a person were dead. How do you reckon these behaviors with your morals?
Water. Dissect a stereotype people have about something that you represent. Be it your race, your gender, your occupation, the sports team you root for. Go in-depth with why it might be historically accurate, and why it may not. Here is my usual warning: If you're a straight, white dude, instead of dissecting your straightness, your maleness, or your whiteness, maybe dissect a hobby you enjoy, or if you belong to a subculture like nerd, bros, engineers, cosplay enthusiasts, maybe focus on one of those things rather than being straight, or white, or male.
The Muse For This Black Dyke Is A Dead White Man. There is something about all of us that will make another type of person uncomfortable. It'sprobably their own bullshit, and not yours. Still. Rationalize hat makes them uncomfortable in a way that glorifies you, while not necessarily making them any more comfortable.
A Brief Antecdote... There have been a lot of positive cultural changes in the twenty-first century. Yes, there are still plenty of people being fucken awful and fighting changes, but let's leave them behind for this one prompt. Give us a not-widely-known history on why a single positive change has occured. You can start with the oppression of a culture you belong to, if you'd like You shouldn't start with the oppression of someone else's culture. And if you think there hasn't been improvements for your straight, white, maleness, look up the history of unions and how they've improved living conditions, or the history of medicine and how they've allowed for healthier lives.
Un-Named. Tell us the history of one of your name. Be it your first, middle, or last.
Black Spells. Center a poem around a togue twister. Untangle it in a way that people won't expect.
After James Brown. Pick a musician you enjoy. Someone whose catalog you know inside and out. Now, base your poem on their biggest hit. The thing they are most known for. Why is or isn't it a great representation of that artist?
(Again), Retell the story from the "I Am Neither The Poem Nor The Words, Nor The Letters, Nor The Images They Elicit" prompt. This time, imagine you narrowly avoided having to be in that situation at all. How does that change things for you?
I Milly Rock On Any Block. Take the subject from the "The Electric Slide Is Not A Dance, Man" prompt and praise or bury the actual physical activity, mildly hinting at the secondary subject matter that you associated it with.
If you enjoy the prompts presented here, please go buy Danez's book from IndieBound.
1. My President. Whether you're A Social Justice Communist That's Ruining Our Mid-Twentieth Century White Conservative Values That Don't Apply To Us, or A Greedy Nazi Bigot For Christ Whom Jesus Wouldn't Care For, you probably think at least one American President in your lifetime is a garbagey piece of unrecyclable garbage. Nominate a list of people you wish were President of Wherever You Live. They can be politicians, celebrities, your relatives, cartoon characters. This is your list. Forget everybody else's rules. Why do you think they'd be a great President?
2. Homies. Reclaim a word that's meant to hurt you. You. Personlly, you. Don't choose a word that doesn't apply to you and try and make it okay. That's someone else's prompt, probably. I want you to take a specific name that someone called you, personally, and reclaim it as something powerful to you. Sing its praises. Why should we love you because of your relationship to that word?
3. How Many Of Us Have Them. This is a new form prompt. Write a poem that ascends. Opening with a one line stanza, followed by a two line stanza, all the way up to twelve lines in a stanza. Have this poem be a praise poem for friendship that starts with praising the friendship of two people you don't know but grows into a poem about either a specific friendship you have, or else umbrellas one of your general feelings about friendship.
4. Jumped! Whether it's violent or psychological, we've all been a bully to someone at some point. Take us on a journey that starts with you being in the position of power and punishing someone for something you feel was justified. End with a story about when you were the victim, but you can see how the person in power felt justified in punsihing you.
5. Saw A Video Of A Gang Of Bees Swarming A Hornet Who Killed Their Bee-Homie So I Called To Say I Love You. Who would you commit an act of violence for? Why would you be willing to do it? Examine Your moral code for this until you learn something new about yourself and/or the person you love enough to violently defend.
6. Fall Poem. Leaves and school and new television shows and termination of vacations are the stuff of fall. Change change change change change. I'm actually surprised more people don't get married in fall. Yea, spring is all bloomy flowers and grass splitting the tundra, and all, but that's also babies babies babies and being terrible at things. Fall is all about growth change instead of born change. Take us on a journey of growth using autumnal imagery.
7. Rose. We've all been the bully at least once. Forget the times you think you were justified. When were you competely in the wrong. Looking back, who should you have apologized to for the way you treated them? Give them your apology and/or your explanation. Own your terribleness. Don't excuse your behavior, apologize for it.
8. I'm Going Back To Minessota Where Sadness Makes Sense. For me, places hold emotional triggers even more than places. Sure, some are nostalgic and positive, but mostly there are places I won't return to unless I have to. The place just feels Wrong. Tell us about a place that holds some sort of emotional power over you. You don't need to try and explain why. Just describe the emotional feel of the place.
9. The Flower Who Bloomed Through The Fence In Grandmother's Yard. A ghost line is where you start a poem using a line by someone else, and write a whole poem wherever that first line guides you. Then you go back and delete that first line. You can make it an epigraph, if you wish, but it can no longer be the first line of your poem. Your ghost line for this exercise is : grander for his quarantine.
10. In Lieu Of A Poem, I'd Like To Say. For years, I thought I hated figs. Those cardboard Fig Newtons that parents gave out to my generation clotted my mouth. But it was the cookie I hated, not the fruit. Thirty years of avoiding figs because of crappy cookies. Sing us a song of praise for the fruits you love. Sure, vegetables, candy, bread, soup, juices, you can do that if it suits you better. But do your best to love on some fruit.
11. Dogs! Pretty straight forward, here, a poem that encompasses multiple dogs, real or fictional, and contains many different themes or metaphors. No #notalldogs or #alldogs, stories about dogs that might contradict each other. Dogs you love. Dogs you fear. Dogs that bit you. Dogs who waited for you. Wag our tails.
12. Ode To Gold Teeth. Write a praise poem for something rooted in vanity. The face lift. The spray tan. The expensive shampoo you canm't really afford. Something that has impacted your life (it doesn't have to be something you've done, it can be something someone you love has done, or something one of your coworkers has done; Just someone's act of vanity that you have to deal with on a fairly regularly basis). Praise it.
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.