Writing Prompts


This one goes out to the lovers that broke our hearts -- this includes actual romantic lovers who screwed us literally and figuratively, politicians who screwed us, CEOs who screwed the planet -- you get it.  

Make a list of places you should not go without a certain thing (the Amazon without a compass, a strip club without a dollar to your name, etc.)

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Anger is a precious thing.  Not righteous anger, not the anger that is praised as fire for justice- the kind of anger the brings you low with its dark rage. Being able to feel it and express it, no matter how unacceptable it is, is a powerful tonic for healing.  So now we write for a person that hurt us, a person we are (do not deny it) very angry with, (or were at one point.)  Let’s just call this poem “FUCK YOU” – has a nice ring to it, yes? 

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Read the poem Path by Jack Hirschman. (After the jump.)

Write a praise poem to humiliation/humility.  Use imagery of rotten or muddied or broken or destroyed objects/food/places, that you suddenly see beauty/flavor/comfort in. 

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Imagine everything you want.  Write it all down, material things, ideas, states of mind, all of it.  Now imagine getting it.  All of it.  Now imagine each of those things has a flaw in it, that you are only now noticing, now that you have it and can look at it closely.  Pick at least 3 - 7 of these things for the poem, and end the piece by reflecting on desire itself, or on disappointment as an artifact.


Here's an exercise I did with Brendan Constantine's amazing Windward poetry class. Choose an idiom – one from the list below or any that intrigues you.  Look up its meaning and its origin. (There are several online idiom dictionaries to choose from.)   Using the idiom as the title of the piece, write a poem that plays with or intentionally subverts the idiom.

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Once I was in Tucson, Arizona for the All Souls' Parade, which takes place along the train tracks running through downtown.  There were magnificent costumes and makeup and enormous skeleton puppets and dancers and marchers chiding onlookers to "have fun now before it's too late."  There was one man who had chosen to do the procession carrying what must have been over a hundred pounds of chains. 

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Write a poem within a poem.  I don't know what that means either. But try this: write three stanzas about something you hide from other people.  Print out (or copy down) two copies of it.  On the second copy, white out some of the words to create a second poem.  See if you can isolate only those words that if they hang on their own in the air, capture the essence of the thing you are hiding and why.  Place the two versions atop one another or side by side.


I woke up today and turned on the radio, and was met with Beethoven’s Symphony 9 in D Minor. It made everything feel important. Making coffee suddenly seemed filled with portent. I also felt like marching somewhere. I became the general of me.

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What has someone said to you that has, as they say, haunted you? 

Tell the story of them saying it.  Then compare the thing, the thing they said, to a concrete object -- a wall, a mirror, a skipping record -- and then have a relationship with that object.  What object you choose to compare it to, how you describe the moment of telling and the object itself and its arrival communicates everything about how you feel about it all.   Do you not want to forget it?  Is it comforting? Frightening?  Chastening?  Wise?  Does it fill in some goddamn blanks for you?


December 3 / Final Full Moon of 2017 Workshop