Compose a poem collaboratively with a friend. Write one line and send it to your friend via e-mail, or by passing a notebook back and forth, and invite your friend to write the next line, building on what you wrote. Continue composing the poem together, line by line, until you have at least twenty lines. Then each of you consider the draft and revise it independently. Compare your final versions.
Think of someone you haven’t seen or talked to in over ten years. Imagine you receive a phone call from this person today. Why are they calling? What do they want? Write a story, narrative poem, or dramatic monologue based on the hypothetical interaction; or, write a creative nonfiction piece about your imagined reunion and the reasons you might want or dread it.
Write a poem in the style and voice of a personals or classifieds ad.
Consider: Who is placing the ad? Why? What do they thinkthey are searching for? What are they actuallysearching for? What has prompted them to place this ad now?
Compose a poem in the form and style of a postcard note. Keep the length brief, and give the recipient a sense of the place you’re visiting or the space you’re occupying. The location from which you write can be imagined or real. Alternatively, buy a postcard, and try to write a poem based on the image or photograph on the front of the postcard.
Choose a sentence from a newspaper whose meaning gets larger and stranger when taken out of context. Use it as the first line of a poem.
Spend a few moments with your music. Choose a couple dozen songs, listen to them alone, and jot down your thoughts.
Listening to music is a wonderful way to trigger memories, and it can bring back thoughts and feelings from long ago. You might write about the feelings each piece of music evokes or about the memories.
You might write about the song itself, such as when you bought it and why, what it means to you, why it remains part of your collection.
You might try writing a poem with a similar structure to the song.
Approach a piece as if you were writing a fable — “a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized (given human qualities such as verbal communication), and that illustrates or leads to an interpretation of a moral lesson” (source).
Keep a third-person point of view. Address the anthropomorphic qualities of the objects you introduce. Invite an animal or creature into the piece. Allow an invisible force to alter time and space.
Instead of ending with a lesson or moral, try closing the piece with a question.
Think of a person from your past, someone you wish you’d gotten to know better and have always remembered. Think about why you wish you’d gotten to know this person better—did he or she do something that intrigued you, did he or she have a particular way about them, did you share an important moment together? Write an open letter to this person, exploring what it was about him or her that has remained with you, even though the person hasn’t.
Make a list of traditionally happy occasions: Weddings, children’s birthday parties, trips to the beach, promotions at the office, etc.
Choose one of the occasions and write a piece that subverts the reader’s expectations by engaging the opposite emotions. How might a children’s birthday party turn frightening? How might a trip to the beach turn sad? Why would someone be angry about a promotion?
The answer is always in the story.
Write an elegy for something or someone you’ve had to let go of recently.
- A modern elegy is any “mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead” (source).
- A classic elegy is written in elegiac couplets — “a poetic form used by Greek lyric poets … each couplet usually makes sense on its own, while forming part of a larger work. Each elegiac consist of a hexameter followed by a pentameter” (source).