Cantab Doortender, Michael F Gill, offers this week's prompt:
Write a ten-line poem wherein each line is a single word containing three letters, making it appropriate to enter as the top 10 high scores on, for instance, a Pac-Man machine.
Inspired by Nicole Sealey's poem "Medical History":
Your family's medical history is one way to get a feel for who you are and where you come from. What other list-style poem ideas can you come up with to define your history? A list of your ancestors' and family's jobs? Hobbies? Mapping out where they lived?
In deference to the holiday, write a poem about either leaping to something (i.e. a conclusion) or a poem about a bad experience with mushrooms.
Since returning to the wilds of society, I frequently find myself bothered by the idea of ...
You know when you walk into a room, and then you remember you were supposed to get something from a different room, but then you think...
What’s in the back of your mind? Either discuss a time when a thing at the back of your mind impacted your life in a significant way, or else write about the last thing you remember from the back of your mind.
Wander your local supermarket (recommended: pick one where you don’t have to cross a picket line) and find a flavor you think is fucked up. Orange vanilla cola? Watermelon sandwich cookies? Cucumbers? Whatever: describe it. Now explain why you hate it, or why you begrudgingly love it.
As part of Claudia Wilson's workshop this week, participants were given a two pronged prompt:
Name your favorite word, or favorite word of the moment.
Use your favorite word of the moment to prompt a poem without using that word
Ask someone else for their favorite word, and write a poem that supports or refutes their choice.
Additional inspiration: a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien on the words “cellar door.”
Adam is alive and out of his coma, but not terribly coherent. His sense of chronology and what is and isn't real are wonky. This makes a perfect time to work on Dadaist, cut up poems.
Take an existing text, be it a poem, a newspaper article, a scene from a play or novel, cut it up by word or phrase. Put these cut up phrases in a bag, and shake it up. Now, without cheating, take the words and phrases out at random.
Congratulations, you have a Dadaist poem!
Adam was supposed to be home by now. Unfortunately, due to a poorly maintained hot tub, he was in a coma, still in Florida. While it was terrifying at the time, looking back on it, being killed by bacteria in a hot tub is a ridiculous way to die.
I had very publicly talked about how glad I was to finally find a vacation home with a hot tub before the trip. This felt like very weird karma.
What strange karma would you be embarrassed or amused to find out had killed you or caused you grievous harm?
It's Adam's last week in Florida, and it's been a weird trip.
Florida is famous for its odd news stories, which usually include a headline starting with "Florida Man".
Check out this archive of Florida Man stories, and find one which inspires a new poem for you.
As I was on my way to vacation this week, this prompt comes from Simone Beaubien, who recently attended a Shane Koyczan show, and came back with the following Shane line s a prompt:
When was the last time you knew everything was going to be okay?
A man ordered crickets online, and was surprised to find that as soon as he opened the box, crickets went everywhere.
If a box arrives at your door; and you open it, and something floods out, in too great a quantity for you or your living space, what is it? Do you try to save yourself? Hold back the tide? Or salvage the contents of the box?
The Cantab staff lazily took the week off to either celebrate with their families, or else sneer at their neighbor's holiday decorations. What would you do with a week off from work? Not what would you actually do, but what do you wish you could do if you had a week off?
I don't know about you, but I've had some complicatedly incompatible roommates in my life, and many more roommate interviews with people who seemed to not have bothered to read the ad I placed. People deathly allergic to cats, responding to an ad that mentioned two long-haired cats. People with two massive canoes moving into a place with no yard, basement, or storage area. And, of course, the people who show up and get performatively political in either direction before you've figured out what their name is.
I deserve better. You deserve better. Write yourself an ad, not for the roommate you want, but the one you deserve. Even if you're past the point in your life where roommates are a consideration.
American English is filled with idioms and expressions that don't make any sense, but that we say anyway. Take an expression that you, or people in your life, which doesn't have an obvious origin, and create your own mythology for it. Don't use the real story, create a whole new back story for shark jumping or sock knocking off.
Write a praise poem for something that you haven't benefited from, or for a person who, until this prompt, you never thought of as inspirational.
Write a two stanza, or forty-five second long poem. Now interrupt it at several points with inappropriate commercials. This prompt brought to you by Thanksgiving with family, where I watched TV live, for the first time in what seems like years.
What's the pettiest thing you've ever been inappropriately angry about? How do you wish you'd responded instead? Or did you get it just right?
From a suite of prompts inspired by Jeanann Verlee's book, Prey: Choose a play you've enjoyed (or hated, if that's how you roll). Write a poem with at least three distinct sections. The first should focus on the plot, the second section should focus on a particular character, and the third should spotlight a setting where a particular scene (or the entire play) takes place.
Select a specific aspect of your personality for an event, outing, or night in. Now dress that part of yourself: in costume, drag, or daily wear.
In honor of poet, Tony Hoagland, who died this week, I created a suite of prompts based on his first collection: Sweet Ruin. I had a complicated relationship with his poetry, as his first two collections: Sweet Ruin, and Donkey Gospel were very influential on the way I wrote in my twenties, but his later work became more and more problematic.
And while many writers found that our older work wasn't accomplishing the things we hoped as it aged, he chose to write about his struggles with bigotry in a way that many of his readers, and some of his close peers and friends, felt was punching down. His internal struggles with prejudice (which everyone has) came out in a way that felt bigoted instead of enlightening.
I don't want to celebrate that part of his writing.
One of my prompts from Suite Of Ruin was inspired partly by the second poem in his collection, "For Men Only", and partly by listening to "progressive" male poets trying their best to write inspiring poems about women:
Prompt: Poem For Men Only. Masculinity is tough, huh? Between Mens' Rights Activists, and the men who struggle against that stereotype, your average open mic listener has spent entirely too much time listening to men talk about masculinity. So take a break for this prompt. Write about a female or non-binary inventor. If you are female or non-binary, write it however you wish. If you're male identified, then completely remove yourself from the poem. Don't talk about how the female or non-binary inventor inspired you or changed your life or what her love life was like, write a list poem about them, or find an angle that never mentions the inventor's beauty or courage. Tell us about the invention. Try to avoid mentioning men at all.
I am often trapped behind a counter while I am working retail. This means, while trying to do data entry, run a sale through, or answer a customer's question, someone who is not even a potential customer will come in and talk at me. Because society has deemed it rude to say "Fuck off, I'm busy, and don't have time to listen to you prattle on about nothing." to a stranger, I often hear more than anyone's fair share of useless doggerel.
In the past week, much of it has been armchair sports fans, who, despite not having played baseball since their tee-ball league team came in last place, are convinced they Know how the local sports franchise can win the World Series, if only their coaching staff would listen to them.
What activity in the world are you completely unqualified to give advice for, but are so passionate about that you feel the need to share your limited knowledge with the entire world?
Prep for your annual Halloween project by writing a story or poem in which a ghost appears, and saves your life.
Write Or Die
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