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Writing Prompts - Exercise Your Inner Poet, Release Your Inner Poe

Updated on October 21, 2013

Terror on the Poetry Express!

When I received EspianScrolls' request, I froze like a deer in the headlights. Poetry has never been my thing. Now, this nice gentleman, who believes otherwise, would find out the truth pretty darn quick! His faith in me, however sweet, may have been misplaced. My idea of good poetry is The Raven, or The Cat in the Hat.

I had to read the request over several times. For the life of me, I couldn't understand what this hubber was asking. What did I know about coming up with random requests using poetic titles? In a word - nothing. So, I did what any sensible hubber would do. I procrastinated.

Finally, I decided that rather than just shooting off random titles that I picked out of thin air, I would kick it up a notch on the challenge scale and make this hub about poetry writing prompts and exercises.

Poetry Writing Exercises

Warning: These just came out of my head!


Alphabet Soup Poem

Write a poem that uses every letter of the alphabet. Each line must start with the next letter.

  • Example:

A dark and stormy night

Brought upon them

Chaos and plight

Due to the monstrous fem

Escaping in the night

(I think that any possible question about my poetic abilities has just been settled.)

Make the Simple Sublime Poem

Take any ordinary object - the more ordinary the better. Can be a cereal bowl, a fingernail, doesn't matter. Look at it. Really see it and then glorify it or decimate it in poetic verse. Bring that non-descript thing to life and give it meaning as something extraordinarily beautiful or awful.

In order to do this well, you are going to have to view that object through a creative eye. Connect with it, if you will, otherwise your words will lack real feeling and purpose.

If you need an example of what I mean, read Poe's work. I can't vouch for his poems (I have them, and his essays but haven't read them) though his stories are rich with emotion filled connections, not only to people. Sometimes an eye, an imaginary heartbeat, a cat.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a horror fan and don't know a lot about poetry.

The Affair Poem

No, not people. Let's make this really interesting. Choose two objects or plants and devise a love poem that gives honour to their affair of the heart or body. Are they maddly in love or lust? Is it unrequited love? Is there someone or something coming between them?

If you want to challenge yourself, you could make it all Twelfth Night-y and introduce a third character posing as the wrong sex. Let your imagination and poetic heart go wild. Above all, have fun with it!

Food, Immortalized

Write a poem about your favourite food. What do you think when you see it? How does the anticipation of eating it make you feel? Wrap it up with your final thoughts or feelings about being sated by it.

Sporty Poem

Craft a sonnet about a sports figure or sporting event. Honour your subject or make them villanous. Naturally, you can write a tribute to someone who has retired from a sport or passed away, but I think it might be more of an exercise if you use someone living and still involved.

Presidential Poem

You have just been elected President/Prime Minister/Queen of the country. Put your thoughts and feeling into rhyming prose. To do this one justice, you will likely need to take some time to really imagine how it would be before you write anything down.

Poetry Prompts / Starters

Warning! These just came out of my head!

Below are single lines of prose. Take one or more lines and construct a poem using them.

Though it was dark, I clearly saw your eyes....

His pride was always strong, as was his will....

Colourful string and bright yarn....

Love flows, sweetly and purely...

Such a summer's day as this...

It wafted warm and aromatic...

The crew, drifting alone in that wreck of a boat...

That night burned itself in my memory...

He was alive with hope, thought it was the beginning...

Purgatory is real they told me...

The wind rippled through the long grass of the moors...

You think I've forgotten...

Red was the colour of her dress and hair...

Trapped beneath a heavy object...  (contributed by B.T. Evilpants


Writing Prompts - Exercise Your Inner Poet

Will you use any of the ideas in this hub?

See results

I Did It!

Whew! I made it through my first poetry writing prompt hub!

I am interested to know if these writing prompts and exercises have helped the poets among you. I may not know poetry, but I can appreciate it and those who do know it.

Happy writing, and please let me know how it goes using these ideas.

Henry David Thoreau

American poet, Henry David Thoreau (born 1817)
American poet, Henry David Thoreau (born 1817)

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Comments About Writing Prompts - Exercise Your Inner Poet

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    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, Marie! Good luck with your book. I'm sure readers will be happy to read the ones that you're sharing.

    • mariefontaine profile image


      9 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Poetry prompts and challenges can have no value placed on him...I'm getting ready to post a few that I've been getting ready for a book...but I figure I can share them.... nice write up!!!!!! I enjoy your pages.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks so much, Wanna B! I love your perspective, I think it's great advice, you're right. Trying new genres can only stimulate and enhance our creativity. Besides, who knows what may come of it.

      Thank-you for your very constructive comment.

    • profile image

      wanna B writer 

      10 years ago

      Just to let you know, the fact that you aren't necessarily a poetry writer makes your prompts all the more creative. Sometimes, when writing any particular genre, we can get stuck in a rut. Getting prompts from another perspective stretches our minds. If nothing else, if one struggles to get a poem out of a particular prompt, they can stretch and try writing another genre. I think breaking from your norm helps you do your norm even better. That's why, as a songwriter, I've resigned to writing every day, even if it's a story or a poem rather than a song. Kudos for stepping out of your comfort zone.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, Teresa. I sweated bullets over this one! It didn't take long to write, but it took me a couple of weeks to muster up the courage to tackle it. I'm not terribly comfortable trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about when I don't - hence the approach. :)

      I'd love to hear from someone that they managed to get a real poem out of any of these! I'm not sure that will happen, but I figure they're good exercises to stimulate the creative brain....I hope.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      12 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Great hub -- I love the good humor and lively approach -- your self-deprecation is unwarranted but charming. I'll try some of these prompts, and see what happens!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You're welcome, Neophtebevs. Hope they help.

    • neophytebevs profile image


      12 years ago from Philippines

      thank You for your prompts!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, Bruce! Hope it does help.

    • profile image

      Bruce Elkin 

      12 years ago

      Excellent Hub. Very novel and engaging. Helpful too. Loved the prompts. Thank you!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, Ms. Johnson. Are you going to compose and post a poem here?

    • profile image

      Ms. Johnson 

      12 years ago

      SixtyorSo, I like that ONE!!! I'm a fan of Shakespeare, Poe, and my girl Angelou too :-(

      But I do sometimes roll them out, except usually when I'm brooding or angry... which tonite... I'm feeling G O O D, Good!

      Great Hub here!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, Michelle! You always say the sweetest things!

      Denny, thanks to you, too! I appreciate you blogging it to your poetry blog, that's very nice! I hope it proves helpful to some of the poets.

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 

      12 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      This is a lovely hub! Blogging this on over to my poetry blog for others outside of hubpages to enjoy too - nothing like a little help to break the writers' block logjam, thanks!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      12 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      HI Shirley, I enjoyed your candidness and honesty. I see you have prompted most people to write a poem. So you are doing a great job LOL. :-)

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sounds like a real interesting place!

      Oh, I know about snow and you have my sympathies. As soon as I come into some money, I'm hopping a plane back to Arizona to sit out the rest of the winter. Oh. Guess that means I'd better come into it soon.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      12 years ago from Hell, MI

      Shirley, those are the actual gates of Hell. They stand proudly in Hell, MI. In fact, they are almost the only thing in Hell, MI. Except, of course, for all the snow!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      B.T., I love your poem!!  How the Hell (snicker) did I miss it?  It's very remeniscient, I think, of Dr. Seuss.  I'm leavin' the link, others might want to enjoy it, too.  Thanks for bringing my attention to a missed classic!

      By the way, did you make the Gates to Hell?  Are they really up across your driveway?

      Pam, aren't those toys a hoot??  Re dusting off my favourite Poe books, I had the same thought, but all my stuff has been in storage a year now, so getting to anything is a major headache.  You enjoy though, and by all means come back and spout all kinds of Poe-isms and quotes!

    • Pam Roberson profile image

      Pam Roberson 

      12 years ago from Virginia

      LOL, I forgot to mention the toys! I got such a kick out of that. Who would have ever dreamed of something like that? ROFL!

      So you got me on The Raven too. All I could remember was "Raven" and "Nevermore." LOL! I have a huge book of all his short stories, and you have me motivated to dust it off and do some reading. :) If I can remember anything good when I'm done I'll come back and spout off some quotes like a Poe hot shot. LOL! :D

      Just kidding, I'm allergic to hot shots. ;)

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      12 years ago from Hell, MI

      Add it if you like. I think it will be tough to wax poetic with that one, though. Here ya go It was my Christmas hub. Delete the link when you're done, though. I'm not a big self promotion guy. And remember, you said no finger pointing!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well, thanks Pam, but I don't always pull off writing well on a subject I'm unfamiliar with. Sometimes, it shows, unfortunately. My trick for this hub was getting to the point where I decided to just let everybody know that I'm not an authority and then just do the best I can. Otherwise, I would never have gotten it written.

      As I was writing this, I was afraid that the prompts were good for fiction but not poetry, because I hadn't a clue what poets look for in a prompt. I think all of these things could be used for any type of writing exercise.

      My love of Poe is what made me put in that Amazon link to the toys, regardless of whether they were a good fit for the hub or not. I darn near peed my pants laughing over the fact that there is a Poe action figure! Oh, don't worry about not remembering the quotes, I have the same problem. The one that has always stuck with me is, "Quoeth the Raven, Nevermore". That's pretty much it.

      Thanks for visiting my first poetry prompt hub!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Cris, I'm glad you felt prompted by my prompts to promptly wax poetic.  That's a clever use of said prompts!  I like your poem, I went, "Awwww!"  Kinda sexy, kinda sweet.  Thanks for contributing it here to my modest poetry prompt hub! xxoo

      Shucks, BT, thanks!  Your first poem cannot possibly be worse than mine and I published it as a hub.  I'd love to read it!  Bring it on out here and let's have a look.  This is all virtual, we can't even point fingers at you or anything.

      No one seems to be taking your prompt seriously, so I'll add to the above prompts if you're agreeable.  Then we'll know who the hardcore poets are!

      Sixty, I don't know what to say, that's astounding!  *applauding*  Do you know, There once was a man from Nantucket...? Me either.  You did a much better job than I can.

      I've never heard of that wine, but if you remember it, it must be a good one, I'll have to look it up.

      Thanks for trying, Sixty!

      Oh, Amanda - I don't about this stuff really, but that seems to me to be a serious poem.  A real one.  A beautiful one.  It makes me think of Bridges Over Madison County.

      I don't know poetry from poop, but I'm starting to get the idea that the entire gist of a story can be portrayed in one short poem.  It seems that more emotion is expressed in a shorter period of time than regular length stories.  Kind of like the Coles notes of a novel.  I don't know if that's hooey or real, but right now that's how it's striking me.

      Thank-you for this, Amanda.  It's terrific!

    • Pam Roberson profile image

      Pam Roberson 

      12 years ago from Virginia

      Very nice Shirley, and you are far braver than I. It's so tough to write with such effectiveness when you aren't comfortable with a topic. After reading this, my mind began to wonder...are you telling a little fib? Perhaps you're a real poet who cranks poems out every day. If not, then BT is right. You can write about anything and make it interesting. :)

      I won't even try this one yet, although your prompts are excellent. Poetry isn't the most comfy thing for me either. ;)

      Gosh, you know I love Poe too. I wish my brain would retain quotes beyond just a couple words, like "That eye!" lol!

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      12 years ago from UK

      Hi Shirley, I'm a sucker for poetry:

      You think I've forgotten

      You passed me without a second glance

      today in the shopping mall

      Once our hands clasped, our lips brushed

      In a fragrant, precious moment of exquisite heart-felt joy

      The larks fluttered into the skies singing

      The corn waved, golden in the sun

      Fifty years have passed,

      But your green eyes and slow smile are etched on my memory

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      12 years ago from Hell, MI

      I think that makes you a poetic maverick, sixty!

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      I dont remember the woman

      I don't remember the Town

      But I remember the wine

      It was Chambertin!

      You see I am a poet

      and I don't know it.

      I think I should best leave it to Shelly, Byron, Keats or Shakespeare as I am not a poet nor do I follow instructions too well.

      Great Hub.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      12 years ago from Hell, MI

      I should say in return, that you are my favorite Canadian (and I know a lot of Canadians)! I believe that if you had read my first poem, you would not be encouraging me!

      I see that Cris and a few others have done a nice job with your prompts. Try this one: Trapped beneath a heavy object...

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      12 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      I was prompted by your prompts to do this (with a little editing on the side, of course):

      You think I've forgotten

      But that night burned itself in my memory

      Though it was dark, I clearly saw her eyes

      Red was the colour of her dress and hair

      And her love flowed, sweetly and purely

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      12 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, BT.  I'm not sure it's a good thing to speak with authority on something that you're not an authority on (except when selling articles).  That's why I keep reminding people that I'm not.  I don't want to be all, you know, fake professional poet or anything like that.  I'll readily admit it's not my writing of choice or expertise. 

      Stereo instructions?  Wow!  That is the most incredible compliment, thank-you!  Did I ever tell you that you're my favourite jackalope?

      By the way, go ahead and write another poem if it strikes your fancy. You don't have to put on hp, you can keep it private. I'll be happy to read it though, if you do.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      12 years ago from Hell, MI

      You speak with authority, on a subject which you claim to have little knowledge! Then again, I think you could make stereo instructions interesting. Personally, I have written exactly one poem since my birth here on Hubpages. I have since decided to do you all a favor, by not adding to that number (although some of your prompts are very tempting)! Thanks for another great read, Shirley.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Clara, I'm sure that when you take a deep breath and begin, it will flow. Thanks for coming by and bookmarking.

      As I was writing these, I thought that they could also be used for creative writing of other genres.

      Anjalic - I love it! In only 8 lines, you managed to convey intense emotion. You did a wonderful job, thank-you for sharing it! You also made it look so easy, I don't know how you and Catherina are able to write a poem so fast! Bravo!

    • anjalichugh profile image


      12 years ago from New York

      Hi Shirley! I am taking your first prompt and hope that it works.

      "Though it was dark, I clearly saw your eyes,

      two gleaming windows to your soul, free of lies;

      what a magical effect they had on me!

      my whole world brightened up in a spree;

      like the waves in a frantic attempt,

      rise high to touch the Moon, and then descend;

      from deep inside my heart emerged a desire,

      to take a plunge even if that meant, playing with fire."


    • Clara Ghomes profile image

      Clara Ghomes 

      12 years ago

      Loved it and bookmarked because I know I'd need to look at it again soon... :)

      I need to open up my creative mine when it comes to poetry..

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, EspianScrolls! I was flying blind with this one, hadn't a clue. I'm glad it's okay and hope it actually works and helps!

      I will check out your hub on Obama.

    • EspianScrolls profile image


      12 years ago

      I love this Hub, Thanks for answering my request! I've already used one of your prompts in my hub about Barack Obama! check it out if you get time.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Bravo, Catherina! And so fast, too. You know, it would be great as an made me hungry!

    • profile image

      Catherina Severin 

      12 years ago

      Shimps with lemon, garlic and love

      stuffed up with feta and in the stove

      serve it with toast, a salad and wine

      delicious and filling - I name it devine


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