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Make Your Own Daily Poetry Prompts

Updated on January 28, 2014

In the past, my poetry was immature and self-centered. I only wrote free verse poetry with a group of friends while passing time in the cliché coffee shop late at night. It's what we did. I set poetry aside when I moved on from that period in my life. A few years ago, I started writing poetry again. I was fortunate to make friends with some talented poets from whom I've learned more about the art of poetry.

I practiced the real poetry craft. I received feedback from poets who have a firm foundation in the techniques and forms. Over the years, I began to gather some poems that I regard as quality work. My file of finished poems grew. I started thinking about publishing a poetry chapbook. Then, my diligence in the practice of poetry fizzled.

The completion of a book of poetry is intimidating. Once it's published and out there, all the world can see what I can do (and can't do). I faced the same self-doubt, perfectionism, and self-criticism as an artist. The only thing I've found to help me move past this self-imposed roadblock is the force myself over it by putting my work out there.

So, with new resolve to complete my poetry book, I sat. And sat. Blank page before me, my mind also went blank. I needed some prompts. A quick search on the internet yielded some poetry prompts, but many contained specific subjects which was not what I wanted.

Slips of paper of poetry forms
Slips of paper of poetry forms

How I Made My Daily Poetry Prompts

I want to continue to grow in my knowledge and skills of poetry. I want to learn new forms and poetic devices. From that desire, I created my own poetry prompt generator.

First, I cut slips of paper. One each slip of paper, I wrote a poetry form. I took the stack of poetry forms and put them in a bag. Next, I took more slips of paper and wrote a poetic device on each one. I put those in a different bag. When I was ready to practice poetry, I took one slip of paper from the poetic forms bag and three slips of paper from the poetic devices bag.

If you try this exercise, you can decide how strictly you'll follow the prompts. I decided rather quickly that I was not going to force anything. I used the prompts to help me get started on a poem. If my poem wandered in a direction other than what the prompts suggested, I would not reign in the poem. However, I may make a note to try that prompt again the next day. As a general guideline, I first try to use two of the three poetic device prompts.

For my first day, I drew the word "cinquain" from the bag of poetry forms. I chose the poetic devices: apostrophe, alliteration, and asteismus. In a dialogue, asteismus is a humorous reply that uses word play. I was not able to incorporate asteismus, but this is the poem that I wrote with those poetry prompts:

Eyes on Jesus

by faith

the LORD said, "Come."

on water, Peter walked

the windy world distracts from Christ



The same day, I felt like trying another cinquain. I wrote "Motivation Stirs."


Motivation Stirs

sweet warmth

and flicker flame

worn pages carry dreams;

lifts heavy fog as furnace ticks


Upcycled containers for my poetry prompt papers
Upcycled containers for my poetry prompt papers

I continue to use the prompts. Instead of the bags, I have upcycled a couple food containers. I decorated them and use them to hold my poetry prompts.

In addition to using the slips of paper, I do things that help me get ready to paint with words. I make hot tea and play classical music in the background. Usually, I'll light a candle. I get comfortable with my poetry journals. Those are the things that help me get ready to write poetry. Your routine to get in the flow may be very different. My routine to get ready to paint is completely different than my routine to write poetry. I'm not sure why, but that's what works for me. I suggest you find what activities or stimuli help you get ready to write poetry.


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