Poetry Writing Exercises 285: Friday 7th February

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.

285 staircase 872489You can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: breeze, open, flutter, bitter, knot
  2. Random: can’t wait for the sun
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. One-word prompt: timeless

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

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.


3 responses to “Poetry Writing Exercises 285: Friday 7th February

  1. taking a break from a series of poems on Egypt.

    nice prompt today

    In the days of ice and bitter wind

    In the days of ice and bitter wind
    The flutter knots of family
    Are not unwound by new age butterflies
    The wings are snarled ugly fractured.

    In the days of ice and bitter wind
    Hope belongs in the chest of wounded dreams.
    The stairs of yesterday are empty.
    We walk away alone, shattered.

    In the days of ice and bitter wind
    We listen to flamenco tunes
    Drifting for a moment away from work
    And leave winter behind.

  2. The ‘B’ of a blink

    Sitting here between one breath and the next
    I watch the multitude standing in place
    Arrested and noiseless – everyone
    Frozen; displaying inordinate grace
    That comes from their poise and supreme stillness
    As they hold themselves all in this moment
    Humaniform statues, all in their clothes
    There until cramp makes their muscles relent

    But alone in the world, I see myself
    Apart from them all there, there fixed in time
    So rising up from my place out of place
    I rush up to them, preparing to climb
    Onto their backs, removing their garments
    Undressing, redressing, switching around
    Like they were actors in a performance
    An instant of drama, devoid of sound

    But in time that palls and I stand alone
    A train off the tracks, a man out of sync
    Watching for something; a movement, a smile
    Imprisoned in this – the ‘B’ of a blink.

  3. Thank you for posting your poems, Meg, Mark. If you’d like to share this or any of your other poems on my main blog, please see the guidelines on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/post-weekend-poetry.

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