There's long standing beef at The Cantab Lounge about who has the best pizza within reasonable walking distance. No one believes that either option is good, but there are people who claim the 7-11 Pizza is better than the pizza place next door.
Those people are, what is known colloqually as, wrong.
But on New Year's Day, the next door pizza place was closed, and I was forced to talk the additional thirty feet or so to the 7-11 for their bland, soft, pizza.
It was fine.
But the box let me know that 7-11 pizza is made from "100% Real® Mozzarella made from whole milk piled on our signature sauce made from vine-ripened, California heirloom tomatoes. We then add a complex combination of herbs and sices to give our pizza Authentic Italian Flavor."
Write a gourmet artisinal description of a product that's clearly garbage. It doesn't have to be food. Please feel free to overboard with decriptive words that in no way actually describe the mediocre to awful thing that you're advertising.
Every Fiveish Years Or So, Christmas lands on the 24th or 25th, and The Cantab Open Mic takes the night off. This was such a year.
If you had a full week off from your responsibilities, a week that youwould never be asked to make up in any way, a week where no one was allowed to send you e-mails, texts, or ask how to determine the proper amount of tax in your state, what would you do?
For the purposes of this scenario, travel is not prohibitively expensive, no money you spend will affect your long-term finances. Everything in the world is at your disposal. What do you do? What do you not do? Which thing do you think people expect you to do that you will definitely avoid. Which stereotype people have about you, personally, will you be absolutely adhering to?
Describe a physical place or location that seems custom-designed to ruin your relationship with someone.
I don't mean Christmas or Thanksgiving Dinner with your extended family, per se. I'm thinking more along the lines of Ikea, the DMV, or anny grocery store.
Write a poem wherein you introduce an animal that would be especially bad at driving (or expand it to a skill or trade you have). What specific things inhibit it? What would you imagine it should be able to overcome?
Write a second part in which you find it difficult to perform that animal’s natural skills.
I hate to brag, but I'm a one-man parade,
Jehova in drag, the church in a dress.
Outside these walls I may be irrelevant,
but here I'm the Old and the New Testament.
You are unlikely to write a more powerful brag than that. But try. Write a stanza or two focused on a talent or body of knowledge you have, then close the poem with an epic brag about it.
Write, edit, or unearth a series of short poems on the same topic, but different storylines or perspectives. Arrange and rearrange to create, uncover, or hide a narrative that doesn’t exist in the individual poems.
Describe a dance move to someone who isn't familiar with it.
As always, you're as free as you want to be literal, surreal, absurd, technical, uninformed, etc. It's your life, and your dance.
Find a fictional character in literature or entertainment that you don’t like– not necessarily a villain, just someone you don’t trust. Help them solve a problem they encounter on their journey.
Opening line of your poem: "Everybody wants a piece of me."
Tell us about a soothing sound. It can be a typical white noise, a song you associate with being calm, or maybe you're calmed by death metal, or the sound of crinkling plastic wrap. Do you know why it calms you?
Do you have different groups of peers that you behave differently around? Are you really talkative around your friends from high school, but shy or standoffish around coworkers? Have you ever had to balance your personality when peer groups overlap?
When I was six years old, and my family had just rerooted itself in a new state, my parents signed me up for teeball league. We'll never know if I was any good because teeball rules are shit. Even at six, I was very against the futility of a sport where consequences were ignored in favor of feelings.
I knew how baseball worked. Three outs per inning. Hit the ball, run to a base. Try and make it to home plate, and you score. I was fiercely competitive with myself more than the opposing team, so I was excited in our second game when I hit a double. The next kid whiffed it to the pitcher and got out. The next batter hit a double, and I was going to go for home but the Third Base Coach had me stop. Ok. I was six. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that I wouldn't have made it. The next batter hit a pop up that was caught. Then there was a single, and I ran home and scored.
Only I hadn't scored. We already had all three outs. But every player was supposed to get up and hit in every inning. But you couldn't score once there had been three outs.
This was not how baseball was played. I hurled my helmet back to the field, and never played another inning of teeball. Thus losing out on The Fundamentals, and not getting involved in little league, even though they played using an actual set of logical baseball rules.
What is the worst game or sport experience you've ever had? A table-flipping Monopoly ordeal? Scoring a goal for the wrong team in soccer? Splitting your pants during a gymnastic routine? Only being the second best slammer in a National Poetry Competition?
Tell us a story from the perspective of a bird. It can be a noble pigeon, shitting in the just styled hair of an entitled jerk. It can be a turkey pleased to have narrowly avoided being the bird most associated with The United States. A peacock with a phobia of social media. It's all up to you. If you want it to be about a middle finger that feels trapped in a kids slimy, wet, mitten, you can go that route as well.
Adam Stone was off playing hooky this week, so doortender Michael F Gill gave a prompt he learned from comedian Ron Prudent:
Write a poem using the non-linear narrative structure of the movie Memento. Use your odd-numbered lines (first line, third line, fifth line, etc.) to tell a story, and your even-numbered lines (second, fourth, sixth, etc.) to tell the same story, but starting from the end and working backwards. Both plots should converge at the end of the poem.
Through an app, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, or a website, you end up procuring a date with a stranger. When you get there, you discover that your date is a ferret.
What happens next?
You are on a mission. You've lost something very important to you. Your favorite shirt, the Samurai Sword your mother left you, a proper sense of moral outrage. Something IMPORTANT.
While on your quest to discover it, you find a set of keys. What do they go to?
Write a poem in ten couplets (they do not have to rhyme or be of any particular length). Do not break your thoughts by the couplets, allow words to dangle, so that one couplet may end with a preposition that leads into the next couplet. Now, keeping each couplet exactly as you originally wrote it, move the couplets around, so that instead of being 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, they are maybe 5, 3, 7, 9, 1, 10, 2, 4, 8, 6, or whichever order gives you a poem that uses the exact same words to paint a slightly different picture.
What song lyrics would really bother you if they were read by a pilot over the tannoy on a plane? What message would the pilot possibly be trying to impart?
I was reading a new graphic novel this week called The New World about Native Americans and escaped African slaves teaming up to fight White oppressors during the relatively early days of Europe's invasion of the North American continent. The book employed a lot of magic, and had some twists that I think I wish it hadn't, but it got me thinking.
Why have I never read a sci-fi or fantasy book about Native Americans invading Europe first? Apparently, there's a mod for it in Crusader Kings 2, but I'm looking for something more inventive, like a powerful Native tribe being excommunicated from North America and ending up in England during the aftermath of The Black Plague, and pushing through Eurasia from The East.
Give us an alternate history scenario to take us away from the current depressing state of affairs. Nothing so small as What If The South Won The American Civil War, something much grander, like what if an island nation developed a technologically superior fleet of submarines and ended up injecting themselves into WWII to the point where they, instead of The United States were glorified as turning the tide of the war. What would that have done to 20th and 21st century world history.
I'll grant you that this is a way better book prompt than a poetry prompt, but feel free to use this for any creative endeavor.
While at work the other day, I overheard a customer trying to convince another customer that he needed to see a therapist because he was depressed, but the longer the conversation went on, the more convinced I was that the person recommending therapy was the person more in need of it.
Try and convince the subject of your poem that they need to see someone in the medical profession. You can either be overreacting to a stubbed toe, diligently trying to save your recently beheaded friend, or you can be like the person in the original scenario and request someone close to you go to therapy, in a way which makes it very clear that you are the one more in need of help.
Billy Barnum was one of the first features ever at The Cantab Lounge in 1991. He was also the opening act for the NPS finals when Boston hosted in 1992.
While there are several reasons to fondly remember his performances, which were interweaved with ballet and mime, he also inspired some really cool writing ideas in me.
Billy had a bound collection of his work that was sold at a local bookstore/coffeehouse in Boston. He would go there every week with his caretaker and some friends, and he would take his own book off the shelves, and rewrite at least one poem in the margins. Vast edits. He would end up with a completely different poem. And if you were fortunate to buy one of those books, you had two separate amazing drafts of that poem (or those poems, usually), for the price of one. Each book became a collector's item.
Print out or handwrite a copy of one of your poems that you, at one time, thought was finished, and rewrite the poem in its margins. And if you're feeling particularly Billy Barnum ephemeral, you can then give that new hybrid away to someone (or sell it, if you're also feeling particularly capitalist) so that they have a one-of-a-kind piece of your art.
Overthrowing a government, a corrupt boss, the patriarchy, or the record industry is hard work. You deserve a break from that emotional upheaval, but, let's be honest, you're going to have a hard time thinking about anything else, because a revolution seems completely necessary.
Try and imagine a revolution that will almost definitely fail: overthrowing fascists via arts and crafts, toppling the patriarchy with counter-clockwise lawn mowing. Paint us a vivid portrait of a very sad revolution.
We've all had a job at some point that wasn't going very well, looked around us and thought "I can do better than this."
But sometimes we're wrong.
I'm sure you, personally, have never had an experience like this, so feel free to make one up: Write about a time when your job went horribly awry, and it was 100% your fault.
Write Or Die
Scott Woods's Twitter Prompts
Rachel Mckibbens' Prompt Blog
The 30/30 Prompt Blog
Asterisk And Sidebar Prompts