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Poetry Writing Exercise Using Thirty Phrases, Three Places, And Three Names

Updated on March 25, 2017

This writing exercise features thirty phrases I created combined with three places, three names, and many linking words. From these variables I created three poems with the following rules: Each poem must be at least twenty lines long and must include at least twenty of the thirty phrases, one place, one name, and an unlimited number of linking words. Linking words may be used more than once in a single poem; names, places, and phrases can only be used once per poem. I may use all of the phrases, names, and places in a single poem. Incidentally, this never happened. In hindsight I’m pleased that I didn’t attempt to include all of these variables in a single poem because I think this would have been unnecessarily cumbersome.

A different poetry writing exercise idea

After creating three poems using these parameters, I observed that having several questions in my list of thirty phrases made this extra challenging. Like the other poems I’ve produced for a writing exercise, I recognize that these poems aren’t necessarily beautiful, profound, or fully coherent. I would do this exercise again, though I would try to improve my approach if I did.


The thirty phrases:

under a moonlit sky

angry at the obvious

looking for salvation on one-way streets

without strategy

a cheerful mutt with brown fur

confused to the core

awash in apathy

between two bridges

who am I?

where am I?

crossing an invisible border

while listening to “Take It Easy” by The Eagles

what for?

I may be lost

brown bags full of fruit

an ill-considered kiss

lonely in faceless suburbia

mint-flavored Oreos

fifteen quarters

a blue, cloudless morning sky

in search of friendship

running in unlaced sneakers

a stained white tee-shirt

looking for God

accumulation of pine trees

watching my parents dance

an afternoon emptied of focus

hungry for tacos and beer

is everything okay?

I must find her

Three places:

1. outside Nashville, Tennessee

2. in rural South Dakota

3. between London and Liverpool

Three names:

1. Oliver

2. McKenna

3. Andy

Linking words:

because; with; without; under; over; he; he; asks; wonders; speaks; finds; loses; seeking; stops; stopped; never; always; just; for; this; in; and; but; is; on; instead; after; before; admits; replies; still; next; day; near; the; says; recalls; wants; during; confesses; yet

Rural South Dakota
Rural South Dakota | Source

Anxiety In America

Hungry for tacos and

beer in rural

South Dakota, Andy—while

listening to “Take It Easy” by The

Eagles—asks, “Who am I?”

Between two bridges and

angry at the obvious, he

is looking for God

and finds instead an accumulation

of pine trees and a cheerful

mutt with brown fur.

After looking for salvation on

one-way streets without strategy

and awash in apathy, he

admits, “I may be lost.”

Under a moonlit sky he finds: brown

bags full of fruit, mint-flavored Oreos, fifteen

quarters, and a stained

white tee-shirt.

The next day: he recalls an

ill-considered kiss on

an afternoon emptied of focus.

I must find her.


McKenna and Andy

She is: confused to the core and

awash in apathy

while crossing an invisible border

with brown bags

full of fruit.

He is running in unlaced

sneakers, lonely in faceless suburbia outside

Nashville, Tennessee with fifteen quarters

and a stained

white tee-shirt.

McKenna, while listening to

“Take It Easy” by the Eagles, is

angry at the obvious: an ill-considered

kiss while in search of friendship under

a blue, cloudless morning sky.

“Who am I?” Andy wonders after

looking for God and watching

my parents dance under a moonlit sky.

During an afternoon emptied of focus, while hungry

for tacos and beer, McKenna asks

Andy, “Is everything okay?”

He wonders, “Where am I?”

She replies, “looking for salvation

on one-way streets.”

Andy confesses: “I may be lost.”

More poetry writing ideas

A girl in England.
A girl in England. | Source

Three Friends In England

“I must find her,” Oliver says after

crossing an invisible border with

mint-flavored Oreos, fifteen quarters, and

a cheerful mutt with brown fur.

McKenna, between London and Liverpool

on an afternoon emptied of focus, without

strategy and confused to

the core, asks, “Where

am I?”

Andy asks Oliver, “Is everything

okay?” while near an accumulation

of pine trees under a blue,

cloudless morning sky.

“What for?” wonders McKenna after running

in unlaced sneakers while looking

for God and in search

of friendship.

Under a moonlit sky, Andy and Oliver

are awash in apathy yet

hungry for tacos and beer.

After looking for salvation on

one-way streets, McKenna confesses,

“I may be lost.”


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