Staff Sgt. Mertz: Have you ever hated someone for something they have no control over? How do you forgive them for that? How do you forgive yourself for allowing that hate inside you?
A Short History Of The Apple: Dorianne Laux goes all-in describing an overwhelming amount of times the image of an apple shoes up in our mythology. Pick a symbol that appears frequently in religious and secular mythology. Go bananas on showing its importance.
Bakersfield 1969: Ghost line: I didn't know I ddn't know anything yet
Mick Jagger (World Tour 2008): Find two youtube videos of your favorite performer from two very different points in their career. How are they different? How are they similar? Which is your favorite?
Juneau: What's your commute from work to home like?
Learning To Drive: How did you learn to drive?
Superman: What does your favorite superhero do to relax? Your favorite real hero?
Monks In The Grand Chartreuse: There is an audience watching you all the time. Like you're the goddamned Truman Show. What is your audience like? Do you enjoy knowing they're there?
Homicide Detective: A Film Noir: Tell a story where pretty much the entire set dressing is smells in place of visuals or emotional triggers.
Mine Own Phil Levine: If your muse had physical attributes, what would they be? For the purpose of this exercise, your muse isn't the subject of your writing but the general feeling of inspiration that gets you writing.
The Beatles: Everyone loves to scapegoat poor Yoko Ono for the downfall of The Beatles, but surely there were other factors at play. Find a relationship in your life where you have always blamed a certain person, thing, or event for the breakup. Go back and consider, what if it was something else. It's totally acceptable to discover, through this exercise, that you were right all along.
Foster Child: "I didn't know our family owned a _____ until..."
Fog: Create an abbreviated highlight reel of a universe in just one page of writing.
Dog Moon: Why do dogs howl at the moon? Why do(n't) you?
To Kiss Frank: Who or what do you think of when you are being kissed by the wrong person?
Roots: Ghost Line: Who among us/wouldn't give a year or more/to lean against the wind and gaze down into the void?"
Light: A poem where each line is just one word. -or- A Thesaurus Poem. Begin with one word, using a thesaurus or your own intuition branch out from synonyms to the mythology o the word.
Climbing: Have you ever felt that other people have defined you by your hair? Or have you defined yourself by your hair?
Daughters: What does the origin of your name say about the person you have become? Anything?
Thel: Ghost line: amid the sweet broken bodies/of birds.
For Roddy: Remember a time when someone you trusted hurt you so irreparably that you cut off contact. How would your relationship have moved forward if that incident hadn't happened but had only Almost happened?
The Woman You Are Accustomed To: What do the people in your dreams wear?
Here Yet Be Dragons: What fell off the edge of the world when it was still a flat thing?
The Earth Is A Living Thing: If the Earth was a living thing, what would it be? How would it live?
If I Should: You are a goddamned superhero. You. Right now. You don't have to imagine it. It's true. But if you're a superhero, what is your secret identity like?
Note Passed To Superman: What was destroyed so that you could lead the life you're currently living? Probably not a planet, but maybe a sibling's ability to afford college? A parent's job?
Far Memory: Ghost line: My knees recall pockets/worn into the stone floor
Brothers: A conversation between God and an aged Lucifer where only one of their voices is heard in the poem.
Looking For The Gulf Motel: What's the first vacation you remember taking with your family? How did you feel at the beginning of it? Does it in any way reflect the way you feel about your family now?
The Name I Wanted: What's the origin of your nickname? How do you feel about people who share your nickname? More or less of a kinship than the people who share your birth name?
Betting On America: Have you ever bet on something that you probably shouldn't have? Maybe it felt inappropriate to bet on a certain event, or maybe you decided to bet on something that you were woefully ignorant about. How did it turn out for you?
Tia Margartia Johnson's House In Hollywood: Do you remember a particular house from your childhood other than your own? It could be a house from TV (Blanco talks about The Brady Bunch house), one of your friends', or a relative's. Did you compare it to your own house? Did you want to live there more than you wanted to return home?
Cousin Consuelo On Piano: Write about a song you irrationally hate.
500 AM In Cuba: Ghost Line
I have nothing I want, but everything I need
Playing House With Pepin: Do you remember the first time you playacted a gender you were not born into? How did people react to it? How did it make you feel?
Abuelo In A Western: Have you ever seen a relative or someone you care about watching TV with you, and realize they are coming to that show from a completely different place?
The Port Pilot: How do your parents' occupations speak to who they are as people?
My Brother On Mt. Barker: Write about what one of your siblings (or a lost love or farr away friend) is doing right now. Unless it's sleeping. Or, ok, fine, you can write about how they sleep, provided they sleep in an interesting fashion.
Papa At The Kitchen Table: Begin a poem looking at an actual photograph of someone in your life. Zoom out.
Love As If Love: Have you ever been in a relationship with someone you knew you didn't have feelings for, even though they clearly had feelings for you. Looking back, how do you feel about that?
Killing Mark: Sometimes when there is too much quiet or too much noise, we imagine terrible things happening to the people we love. Not things we want to happen. Things we fear will happen or have already happened. How do you get yourself out of those thoughts? Can you imagine a way to keep them from happening?
Cooking With Mama In Maine: Sharing a kitchen with family or people we love can either be incredibly therapeutic or absolutely maddening. Write about a memorable experience cooking with a loved one, or watching them cook. If possible, write about one positive experience and one negative. Now remove yourself from both experiences and imagine the positive experience sharing a kitchen with the negative experience. How do they interact?
Unspoken Elegy For Tia Cucha: Were you ever forced, as a child, or as a significant other to give a gift to someone when you didn't feel comfortable giving a gift? How did that go?
Since Unfinished: What's a poem or piece of writing you keep coming back to you? Is it possible to put it to rest?
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.