Poem prompt 1: Choose an event

Happy Poetry Month! Are you ready to write poems? Are you ready to explore sequences?

Let’s get started. But how?

Because we’re looking at sequences, let’s start by choosing an event, because an event has a chronology you can build on, a direction you can go (or back track from).

So what haunts you? What do you think about over and over–in the unexpected moments?

Maybe the event you choose is something that happened to the world or maybe it’s something that happened to you. It can be something from the week’s news or something from another century or before history.

I admit that as I’ve thought about events, I’ve tended to dwell on cataclysms or disasters, natural or otherwise:
The earthquake in Haiti
The Potato Famine

or shootings (sadly, too many to list here)

But an event could be positive, too. The end or Apartheid in South Africa. The passage of the 19th amendment in the U.S.

And an event could be something personal–for example, a birth or a death.

Now, with your event in mind, take 3-5 minutes to write a list of images or words. The list helps warm you up, and it provides a resource as you write through the month.

Pick one word.

Write 5 first lines using that word. Why 5? To help explore different aspects of your event. Starting with 5 choices can show you some different paths.

Pick one of those lines and use it to start your poem.

Bonus option: Choose a number of lines ahead of time–14 or 10 or 24 or your favorite number. Keep your poem–and each poem in this sequence–to that many lines.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my favorite line, and I’ll invite you to share yours.

4 Replies to “Poem prompt 1: Choose an event”

  1. Poetry Month 2013: Accepting the Challenge
    – for Ann Teplick

    “Challenge yourself to write a short poem,”
    writes my friend Ann to our Wordsmith Group
    But April and Poetry Month notwithstanding,
    I say dear Ann, I’ve no time for fun.

    Says Ann to our six-woman writing group
    I need to know others are with me.
    But Ann, I answer, I haven’t the time.
    Esther, we’re wordsmiths for better or worse

    I need to know others are with me.
    But Ann, my book’s not finished, I’ve no time for fun.
    Wordsmithing comes in many forms, Esther
    Writing in poem will get your editing done.

    Ok, so my book’s not finished and I’ve no time for fun
    but friendship is sacred. Dear Ann, you’ve won.
    Indeed, writing in poem will get my editting done
    So I accept your challenge, dear Ann, to write a short poem — at least this one.
    – Esther Altshul Helfgott

  2. Wow! A pantoum! I love the way the repeated lines vary while still echoing. I’m glad you found time to write “at least this one”–and thank you for sharing it here. Now, how’s Ann’s poem coming along. 🙂

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