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Poetry Writing Assignment College

Creative Writing Prompts and Exercises can help you find ideas for  poems.  Use these creative writing prompts to help get the ideas flowing and to help develop your work.

Creative Writing Prompts for Poetry:

  1. Write a poem about how you assembled a puzzle or game from your childhood. Focus on the imagery, the pieces, intention and focus.
  2. Write a love poem to your favorite book. Be sure to flip through the book, focusing on what you found was most meaningful.
  3. Write a poem that incorporates both the view of the antagonist and protagonist in a fairy tale.
  4. Ask your friends to give you five random phrases. The phrases can be fragments or sentences, and should not reference movies if possible. Write a poem that incorporates these five phrases.
  5. Think of a course you have always wanted to take. Write a poem that focuses on why you find this class to be appealing or interesting. Again, this should not be a class you have taken yet. You want to write a poem that captures your raw level interest in the course.
  6. Write a poem dedicated to the dreams you remember the least. These do not have to be dreams you wish to remember, but write to them regardless.
  7. List the three most inconvenient things that happened to you today. Now write a poem about at least one of them.
  8. Write a poem about your experience in some type of vehicle used for long distance such as a car, airplane or a train. Where were you going? Was it comfortable? Who did you meet or talk to? Did you forget anything or find something? Did you arrive at the right destination?
  9. Find an unpublished poem that you haven’t looked at in years. Randomly choose three lines from the poem. Write a completely different using those lines.
  10. Think of a product or a service you dislike. Imagine you have the opportunity to convince them to take that product or service off the market. Write a poem that incorporates your message about this product or service.
  11. Take an image that you can recall from the prior week. Use this image to help you write a poem.
  12. Think about something specific a loved one does for you. This can be anything from receiving back rubs from your partner or getting seasonal cards from your aunt. Write a poem that incorporates the feelings and images associated with this event.
  13. Pick your favorite search engine. Perform a search on any word you can think of. Choose a word that does not have particular importance to you. Read through the first two pages that come up in the search engine. Pick two sentences and write a poem incorporating those sentences.
  14. Think of at least three people from your hometown that you haven’t talked to in a long time. Write a poem that is aimed to address these people for the first time in years.
  15. Think of the best independent restaurant you have eaten at recently. Write a poem about the flavors and sensations of the meal and drinks.
  16. Think about a coworker or colleague you find distasteful. Write a poem about how this person saves your life.
  17. Write a poem that admits a dark secret of yours.
  18. Write a poem from the perspective of a creature that lives in a cave or in the deep sea.
  19. Listen to a song you really enjoy. Focus on your most favorite part of the music. Write a poem about all the sensations, images, feelings, lyrics and other components of that specific part of the song.
  20. Imagine yourself living 300 or more years ago. You still have the same personality and body. Write a poem about yourself and your interactions and with the people of that time.
  21. Write a poem about the frustration or stresses a pet must feel. Pets could include household pets, circus animals, zoo animals and so on.
  22. Think about a political issue you strongly disagree with. Now write a poem where the aim is to and convince yourself to actually agree with that point.
  23. Write a poem about what you expect the end of the world might be like.
  24. Write a poem that introduces a book you dislike. You can even use a poem that you aren’t particularly happy with. Write a poem introducing that poem to readers.
  25. Write a poem about what you would do if your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend was transformed into a giant stone animal.
  26. Write a poem about an animate and inanimate object falling in love with each other.
  27. Picture a beautiful landscape. Write a poem about that landscape.
  28. Take a look at a map. Randomly select a town or city you have never been to. Write a poem about what you think it might be like visiting that place for the first time.
  29. Write a poem from the perspective of someone who is from another culture.
  30. Take a topic you feel uncomfortable writing about. Write a poem about that topic.
  31. Write a poem about a historical battle that really reverberates with you.
  32. Look up some very rare flowers in at least two different countries. Write a poem that incorporates the features of these plants and their many parts.
  33. Pick a topic in the computing sciences that you know absolutely nothing about. Do a quick search on it, and spend at least 30 minutes trying to understand it from your perspective. Write a poem either about the experience or the topic.
  34. Find one of your favorite recipes. Write a poem that utilizes some of the steps of that recipe.
  35. Write a poem about the way a specific room changes throughout a year. Focus on the objects in the room, lighting, dirt or dust, stains, smells and all the other parts that make a room.
  36. Write a poem about some aspect of the grieving or bereavement process. The loss, anger, loneliness, acceptance and moving on are all potential topics.
  37. Write a poem about positive transformations  One example might be the moment that someone you thought was unattractive or plain was suddenly beautiful.
  38. Find a cause seeking donations in your community. Imagine this cause is having an auction to raise donations. Write a poem about that auction. Mention if you would bid and what you would bid.
  39. Write a poem designed for the personals section in a newspaper or online listing. Try to incorporate the type of writing typically used in a personals section.
  40. Write a poem about a piece of clothing you would design if you had the resources and poem.
  41. Write a poem about the moment when you lose a necessary piece that is needed to make something electronic work. Some examples might include losing a charger for a computer or music player.
  42. Write a poem in which you ultimately apologize to someone or something.
  43. Try to remember some of the most memorable poetry readings you have attended. Write a poem saying thank you to those readings and the readers.
  44. Check your local news for any new gallery exhibits in the area. Attend the exhibit and write a poem that discusses some elements of the exhibit.
  45. Write a persona poem on someone that is very controversial. Consider writing a poem on a serial killer or a famous gang member.
  46. Go outside and note at least three different cars on your street. Incorporate the make and model of the car, color and other features of the car into a poem.
  47. Write a poem about cloning someone who is recently deceased. Think of various attributes of the overall cloning process such as personality differences, health problems, controversy, and the comparisons of the deceased to the new clone.
  48. Write a poem from the perspective of someone who dislikes what you do professionally.
  49. Write a poem about how you find happiness through something that actually makes you deeply unhappy.
  50. Look at the last 10 poems you have written. Pay attention to the ending lines. Use one of those ending lines to begin a new poem.

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This handout discusses some terms and techniques that are useful to the beginning and intermediate poet, and to instructors who are teaching poetry in writing courses at these levels. The distinction between beginning and intermediate writing is provided for both students and instructors, and numerous sources are listed for more information about poetry tools and how to use them. A sample assignment sheet is also provided for instructors.

Contributors:Kenny Tanemura
Last Edited: 2011-10-19 02:10:34

Online Resources

Suggested Reading

  • Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, Editors. The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1997.
  • Kenneth Koch. Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. Touchstone, 1998.
  • Mary Oliver. A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.
  • Mary Oliver. Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.
  • Ron Padgett, Editor. Handbook of Poetic Forms. Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2000.

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