Poetry Writing Exercises 117: Tuesday 18th June

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. Time yourself for 15 minutes for each one, then either have a break or move on to the next one.

You can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: deconstruct, debrief, mark, particular, remember117 train track 64308
  2. Random: repetitive comment
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Tuesday Title: Bandy

Have fun, and do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on!

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!


  • Don’t forget your five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
  • Show don’t tell: if your character is angry, don’t tell us he is, have him thumping his fist on the table.
  • Colours: Include at least one colour in your story. It does add depth.
  • Use strong verbs and avoid adverbs: Have a character striding instead of walking confidently.
  • Only use repetition to emphasise.
  • When you’ve finished the first draft, read the story out loud. It’s surprising how many ‘mistakes’ leap out at you when you read out loud… assuming you have any of course!

Pictures courtesy of morguefile.com

I love to talk about writing so feel free to email me. I’ll be pasting these prompts in this blog’s Facebook Group so you may find some other comments there.

If you’d like to submit a poem for critique on this site, see Submissions. The other critique writing groups are:

Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group

Thank you for reading this and we look forward to your comments.

18 responses to “Poetry Writing Exercises 117: Tuesday 18th June

  1. What are you thinking?….

    In particular

    I must remember to debrief myself,


    before I bore into

    that question marked

    look on your face,

    and deconstruct

    for the third time in

    this luna cycle.

  2. I like this poem so much. I read in it many significant things that work well. The problem is reading a face. It might be a lover’s face or the face of a dog. You tend to compare another’s face to your own thoughts or to a set of iconic emotional states. The poet is trying not to do this.

    In particular, you’ve got to remember to debrief yourself. The first question is what are you thinking yourself? What have you been thinking? Whatever it is, it will have to come out first and be examined critically. Start fresh with few preconceptions, if you really want to see beyond the face. So the poem says.

    To deconstruct would often mean to examine critically a polemic, a hidden argument, a rhetorical strategy. Here I think it might be the set of preconceived notions one has about facial expressions and what they might mean. The poem wants you to stop and at least question these. Additionally, if there is a thing like a rhetorical strategy, it would be a face put on for a reason, to convey something, to suggest a feeling that might be genuine or not. This needs to be considered too.

    For the third time this luna cycle is interesting. Why the third time? It suggests a history unknown to the reader. I usually like it when a poem does that, as long as the enigma is the minor theme and there is also at least one major, coherent interpretation available. I guess luna would be moon, the noun, used as lunar, the adjective. But it would be nice to be able to see this some other way. Lunar cycle suggests periodicity in the face, possible a menstrual cycle if it is a human face, since humans synchronize well with the moon. Many other species do not. If so, does this mean the face is female and the face reader male? Or might the face reader be female? Or are there mysterious lunar cycles in the text of the face, or in the reader of the face, that the reader of the poem does not even suspect?

    An excellent poem.

    • Hi Bill,Thank you for taking the time to review my poem. I am glad you enjoyed it so much. When you have only 15 minutes to write a poem I find that there is more subconscious than conscious involved … very much more of a gut reaction. I therefore am often surprised buy the resulting poem myself. This poem was very much about looking into the face of someone who would not tell their inner thoughts to the point that their silence becomes a destructive force.


  3. Thank you, Brit, Bill. I agree it’s an excellent poem and love the fact that some of the facts are ambiguous. It’s often how I write my flash fiction.

  4. Random: repetitive comment…


    I don’t want to want you

    so much,

    that I become a husk that is sucked in and

    spat out with your breath.

    I don’t want to want you

    so much,

    that my feet shuffle obediently

    to the drum of

    your irascible fingers, unsaid.

    I don’t want to want you

    so much,

    that my mind follows the cognitive foibles

    that circulate your head.

    These are my weaknesses that I try not to show,

    This is what I don’t want you to know.

  5. Welcome to the blog, Britannia. What a great poem. Thank you for sharing it with us. I especially love ‘a husk that is sucked in’.

  6. The last two lines remind me of Dorothy Parker’s line, “Here’s my strength and my weakness, Gents”, from, “Ballad of 35.”

    • Looked up that poem, couldn’t find those lines in the version I read on line but thanks for introducing me to Dorothy Parker.


  7. Why I hold back

    I see three ways to read:

    I don’t want you
    so much

    First I see it as not wanting him (let’s assume him). Well, maybe I do, but I don’t want him so much that I lose control in this or that way. Or else I see it to mean that I am throwing my weight into not wanting him, not wanting to want him, so much so that it nearly knocks me out, so that I DO lose control. Finally it is ironic; I want him in spite of myself. These three meanings are working all at once.

    Saying it three times is good too.

  8. I’m always in awe of poets. I’ve dabbled (and won a poetry competition) but I’m a prose writer through-and-through. As for reading some of my works, Britannia – thank you for asking – I do have a poem on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/poetry

  9. Thanks Tom, Maybe this poem addresses a fear that is somewhat more female in nature, a fear of not wanting to lose your own identity in a relationship, of wanting to become untied but at the same time not wanting to become engulfed or controlled. It also addresses the vulnerability of opening yourself up to love. Thanks so much for reading.

  10. That is really an insight, Brit. Yes, I see it.

  11. Oops. Regarding the line that indeed is not in the Dorothy Parker poem, I think I was remembering an adaptation of it as a song, sung by Carla Bruni. I guess she or someone added that particular line line. My bad. Sorry.

  12. No sorry at all, you are broadening my horizons!

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