Poetry Writing Workshops/Prompts
© 2021, Pegi Deitz Shea
APRIL 30 – POEMS FROM RANDOM WORDS:
Open a dictionary or any book, close your eyes, point to a word, and write it down. Do this five times, leaving lots of space between them. Play “word-association” with each word. What situations come up (personal or not)? Sensations? Visuals? Synonyms? Antonyms? Your trick is to write a poem using all of these five original words in any order. Your poem can be silly or fantastical. Have fun! See “Pegi’s Poetry Pointers” [below on this page] to revise the poem using techniques such as simile and metaphor, rhyming, alliteration, assonance and rhythm.
APRIL 23 – POETRY FROM ARTIFACT or HEIRLOOM/ANTIQUE:
Choose an artifact from a different culture or from American or family history. For example, textiles such as a quilt, Russian nesting dolls, daily tools such as chopsticks; musical instruments such as an African drum. Use all your senses to describe its textures, smells, appearance, sounds, etc. Think about who made it, why they made it, how it was made, what happened with the item, how did the person feel while making it. For real drama, you could also write from the point of view of someone who broke it intentionally! You can use a real person or invent a persona to narrate the poem. See “Pegi’s Poetry Pointers” [below on this page] to revise the poem using techniques such as simile and metaphor, rhyming, alliteration, assonance and rhythm.
APRIL 16 – IN AND OUT OF CONTEXT: POETRY FROM POETRY
To find poems, go to: Poetry Rocks Black Voices page or https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/poem-of-the-day. Choose a poem and find two meaningful lines from it. Write them down, along with the poet’s name and title of the poem. Meditate on the lines alone, without thinking too much about what the poet is using them for. What do they mean to you? Where do they take you? (You can use the actual lines anywhere in your poem, as long as you footnote the poet’s name and title.) Or you can just let the lines lead you elsewhere. See “Pegi’s Poetry Pointers” [below on this page] to revise the poem using techniques such as simile and metaphor, rhyming, alliteration, assonance and rhythm. Have fun comparing your final poem to author’s original poem.
APRIL 9 – FICTIVE POETRY FROM NEWS:
Choose a photograph and article full of conflict from the news. Go beyond describing it and put yourself into the conflict. What are you doing? How are you feeling? How do you go on from this conflict? See “Pegi’s Poetry Pointers” [below on this page] to revise the poem using techniques such as simile and metaphor, rhyming, alliteration, assonance and rhythm.
APRIL 2 – FICTIVE POETRY FROM FACT:
Writing about a personal event can be hard, especially when it’s painful. It helps when you can create some distance from it by using a persona (a fictional name) or simply a pronoun (he/she/they). Choose an event, write down what happened complete with your emotions. Take poetic license! If you wanted the event to end differently, feel free to change it! See “Pegi’s Poetry Pointers” [below on this page] to revise the poem using techniques such as simile and metaphor, rhyming, alliteration, assonance and rhythm.
PEGI’S POETRY POINTERS
© 2021, Pegi Deitz Shea
Rhythm in Rhyming Verse
Use a consistent rhythm pattern: Respect the integrity of the word’s stresses; respect the integrity of our language’s flow. Common patterns are:
Iamb – / a bove
Trochee /- won der
Anapest – – / un be lieve/ a ble
Dactylic / – – con cen trate
Spondee / / Look out!
You can create your own, but keep it consistent.
Use similar numbers of “feet” to create similar line lengths. 1 pattern of stress = 1 foot, therefore 3 feet = trimeter; 4 feet = tetrameter, etc.
Use a predictable rhyme scheme. Only change when emphasis calls for it, e.g. last two lines of a sonnet, Shel Silverstein’s “Medusa” poem.
Common schemes: AA BB couplets, ABAB quatrain, etc.
Avoid boring monosyllabic, long-vowel sounds as end rhymes – A, E, I, O, U.
Avoid cliché rhymes: love/of, all right/all night, you/too.
Experiment with consonants and consonant blends as end rhymes, e.g. ack, ing, ent
Take care with polysyllabic end rhymes: at least the last two syllables should rhyme,
and stresses should match: Consternation/aggravation
Try slant or near rhymes: plurals (pants/ant); slight vowel changes (here/air);
assonant rhyme (boy/void); consonant rhyme (truck/track); sight rhyme (wear/fear).
Punch up free verse with Basic Description Tools
Comparison: Simile, metaphor, analogy, personification
Rhetorical tools: Assonance, alliteration
Delight/Humor: hyperbole, onomatopoeia
Avoid filler words and phrases: very, quite, in fact, really, too, etc.
Avoid forcing rhythm or rhyme by inverting subject-verb order, e.g. Fly he did.
Use specific adjectives instead of general adjectives (tall, large).
Use strong verbs instead of weak verbs + adverbs
Avoid clichés, unless you’re going to twist them, e.g. elephants in his pants.