Summer Poetry Challenge Prompts

On this page, there will be weekly writing prompts designed for the Summer Poetry Challenge.

Only use them if you are having trouble getting started on a poem. Otherwise, write whatever is in you at the time.

PROMPT for Week Eight: Aug. 11-17

WATER: A few poetry challenge participants have already entered a poem in ROMP’s Water Poem Contest. I encourage any of you to also write something on this subject. Details HERE!

PROMPT for Week Seven: Aug. 4-10

THE BOX IN THE ATTIC: Imagine there is a box in the attic of a house, could be your house or any house. What is in that box?

PROMPT for Week Six: July 28-Aug. 3

FROM A PICTURE: For this prompt, choose an image–photograph, artwork, etc. and describe it. Use the title of the artwork or a description of the photograph for your title. Focus on simply showing what you see in the image.

PROMPT for Week Five: July 21-27

FROM A BOOK: Open a random book at a random page and point your finger to a random line. Use it as a title or the first line of a poem and write from there.

PROMPT for Week Four: July 14-20

TELL A STORY: One of the neat tricks I use as an oral storyteller is to remember a “story spine” when I tell a story to make sure I have a satisfying narrative for the audience. You can use this same technique in writing a narrative poem. Start from 6 basic sentence starters:

Once upon a time,
Every day,
But one day,
Because of that,
Until finally,
And ever since then,

End each sentence with your own idea, and you have a story. Your story can be six lines or broken up into shorter lines or you can embellish different elements above. In a traditional story there are countless “because of that” elements–because that is the rising action of a narrative. So, this week, use a story to be poetic!

PROMPT for Week Three: July 7-13

LISTING: Walt Whitman was a great cataloger of things and people and feelings, places and events. His poems often read like lists. For this prompt, try making lists. Start with a list of items you find in any aisle of a grocery store: Just list them as phrases, such as green banana turning yellow or puffy bag of corn chips, etc. Then make another list of things in a natural setting–the beach, a park, your back yard, etc. Again, list them as phrases: roaring ocean waves, tiny squirrel tracks, etc. Lastly, combine items from the two lists in some way. It may sound like a nonsensical poem….but maybe not!

PROMPT for Week Two: June 30-July 6

REMEMBER: One of the main types of feedback that beginning poets get is to rely more on imagery. Let the image dominate your poem. The image is what evokes the response in the reader. However, composing imagery is sometimes difficult. But one way to do this is to start with a simple prompt: I remember.

Begin a series of phrases or sentences with the words “I remember” and complete the phrase with actual details of experiences. Repeat the phrase as often as you wish. Revise, edit, leave it for a while and come back to re-read it. Submit it!

PROMPT for Week One: June 23-29

ONE WORD: Sometimes the best writing/speaking prompt is the simplest. First, find a time and place where you will be able to write uninterrupted for at least 10 minutes. Try to let any worries fade away, pick up your pen or put your fingers on the keyboard and write about whatever comes to mind from this word: SCAR.

If you don’t like that word, pick up a random book or close your eyes and place your finger on a random word on the screen and write about it. There are no rules, other than try writing in phrases and short lines rather than sentences and paragraphs. When you are finished, put a title on what you have written. Leave it alone for a while. Come back to it after several hours or even a day or two. Read it again, make any changes. Send it to me for feedback if you would like or just Submit it!