20 Little Poetry Projects

So… I’m still working on the formatting/basic concept of this blog… but in the spirit of inertia… I’ve curated 20 writing prompts, sloppily wrote them onto tiny squares of paper, folded the paper into origami fortune tellers, and thrown them into a cup. The plan is I’ll draw a prompt from the cup… and, well, write.

So today’s prompt is 20 Little Poetry Projects. It’s a poetry creative writing exercise that was created by Jim Simmerman and appears in The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell. I first encountered this exercise in a creative writing seminar, like… 15 years ago. It’s a fun exercise of structured nonsense even for, especially for, non-poets such as myself.

Twenty Little Poetry Projects
1) Begin the poem with a metaphor
2) Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3) Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly thoughout the poem.
4) Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses.)
5) Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6) Contradict somethin you said earlier in the poem.
7) Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8) Use a word(slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9) Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10) Use a piece of “talk” you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11) Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun)…”
12) Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13) Make the persona or character in the poem do something he/she could not do in “real life”
14) Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15) Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16) Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17) Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing buy that finally makes no sense.
18) Use a phrase from a language other than English.”
19) Make a nonhuman object say or do something human (personification).
20) Close he poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” and image from earlier in the poem.

There technically aren’t any rules about the order in which the “projects” should be completed, but I decided to go with the listed order… which seems to be most common. In the spirit of the blog… it’s a shitty first draft… and titles are hard, so it doesn’t have one… suggestions are welcome…

The world was in her eyes.
A world inhabited by creatures who communicate solely through pop music.
The aroma of pain flows throw the air.
The taste of salt filled their mouths as rain fell from the skies.
Darkness followed.
A mother clutches her child to her chest, rocking gently and singing the calming ballad, “It’s raining men.”
Carlita was chopping onions for her World Famous Spaghetti Sauce in Rolande’s mother’s kitchen.
Her sauce wasn’t World famous.
The days were longer then,
and there was much less fiddle-faddle and hibber-gibber,
because everyone prayed daily and carried large sticks.
“Everyone thinks it’s about death, but it’s actually about opportunity.”
The steady breath of patience filled Carlita’s lungs.
Rolande’s words were a battering ram painting flowers on a castle door.
Carlita drifted from the world and appeared in the pages of a fantasy.
Aunt Milk greeted her with hot tea.
She will bring nothing, until the swords rain from the sky. She will bring everything.
A warming blizzard blanketed the trees in white.
Trees are never in fashion after Labour Day.
L’hippo a pique ton pantalon
The hippo waltzed from the room, bringing down the velvet curtain with a clang,
Light flooded the world once again.

2 thoughts on “20 Little Poetry Projects

  1. If, for some odd reason, you want more prompts in your life, The Daily Post also does a Daily Prompt post. I enjoy the challenge of suddenly having a concept thrown at me and trying to figure out how to turn it into a poem, but that’s just me.


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