Poetry Writing Exercises 140: Friday 19th July

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.

140 underground 568159You can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: deserve, insane, thing, change, strange
  2. Random: standing on a roof
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. One-word prompt: mouth

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.

2 responses to “Poetry Writing Exercises 140: Friday 19th July

  1. Chimney Flashing in Late Summer

    Standing on the roof where flashing’s bent
    where every autumn I have stood before,
    there is this time something pensive in the air,
    and hints of how some subtle things have changed.

    One grows weary of the season, of fall
    of leaves that never seem to miss the gutter.

    Clearing eves-troughs drives a man insane.
    I have been here so many times,
    Worn shingle, what lead paint there still remains,
    familiar friends close up for sure, each turn
    of roof and clapboard settle in the brain.

    The roof astir with ventilator fan,
    autonomous, it seems somehow to me,
    this must be some rich man’s house or the home
    of grown-ups where I am always a child,
    for it is more than I deserve to own.

    Familiarity has for a moment lapsed,
    late summer yield to distant smell of snow
    so faint and strangely born in summer air.
    Before sunset when wind begins to blow,
    I’d better go and finish those repairs.

  2. Morgen, this was submitted early Friday evening my time. It took too long, as sometimes happens.

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