Poets & Writers magazine has an occasional article about poetry (despite it being part of the name).
The current issue has their 14th annual look at debut poets. In other words, these are poets who have just published their first book of poems. The poets talk about their inspiration, advice for other poets, and some audio samples of their poems.
You might recognize Jose Olivarez and Fatimah Asghar from Young Chicago Authors. There are a bunch of others to check out here too.
WILDER FORMS: OUR FOURTEENTH ANNUAL LOOK AT DEBUT POETS
What are the most significant moments, people, and places in your life so far? What happened to you so far in your life that has left a distinct mark, or created a major memory or continued to you affect you in small or large ways?
1. Look through the questions and statements below. Answer as many as you can with short answers -- just enough so that it makes sense when you come back to in a few minutes.
Take about 10 minutes to do this.
2. Now choose 3-5 of the answers you wrote in the first part -- the ones that sparked a lot of significance or emotional resonance with you.
Take about 20 minutes to freewrite about the items you chose.
Write down as many details as you can think of / remember. Try to add as many concrete details that use your five senses as possible. You don’t have to share these freewrites, but try to include details that fill in gaps for anyone reading it that wasn’t there or doesn’t know what is in your head.
These freewrites don't have to turn into a poem, but the details might provide some rich details that will inform your poetry.
Brainstorm a list based on these items:
Write a poem to someone living in the future that contains the joy and sorrow and messiness of today.
Example Poem: Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now by Matthew Olzmann
Imagine your parents as younger versions of themselves and answer the following questions:
Write a poem telling the mythology of your parents meeting. Try to be as detailed as possible. Feel free to imagine and invent parts of the story you don’t know.
Example Poems: the last time marvin gaye was heard in the sudan & the lovers, both by Safia Elhillo
Prompt Source: YCA Blog
Brainstorm lists for the following items:
Use your list to write a poem about how dope you are, celebrating your strengths as well as your flaws.
Example Poem: Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why) by Nikki Giovanni
Prompt Source: YCA Blog
Make this poem as weird as you can. You are going to write a poem where you seem to b apologizing for something, but you are obviously not sorry because your excuses will be so unusual.
Example Poem: Compulsively Allergic to the Truth by Jeffrey McDaniel
Source: The Crafty Poet by Diane Lockward
You are going to create some strange metaphors. and similes.
Brainstorm a list of abstract concepts (e.g. justice, racism, wisdom, compassion) or emotions (e.g. love, hate, jealousy, despair, grief, happiness).
Brainstorm a second list of concrete nouns or proper nouns (garage, dog, moonlight, engine, etc.)
Take a word from each list and put together with one of these two phrases:
Metaphors: [abstract concept} is a [concrete noun}
Similes: [abstract concept] is like a [concrete noun]
Take some risks and make the comparison as unexpected as possible.
Example: justice and rusted out old car
Add an additional line to your phrase that elaborates or explains the metaphor or simile.
Love is like a hurricane. It hits you unexpectedly. You are lulled by the calm at the center of it. Then you are devastated when it leaves.
Loneliness is a a rickety old green chair in a a corner of a dark room. Everyone knows it is there collecting dust. No one thinks of taking it out in the sunlight to fix it up, give it new life.
If you want to create a poem out of one of your metaphors or similes, try using a list poem format or try using an extended metaphor where you expand on your initial idea into a full story.
Here are two example poems:
Heart by Dorianne Laux,
Broken Promises by David Kirby
Brainstorm a list of places you would be least likely to find each of the four elements: earth, air, fire, water.
Example: Fire -
Make up a list of verbs that you would least associate with each element.
Prompt: Combine the material from both lists plus any other material. Focus on your relationship with parents, friends, a potential (or current) significant other.
Write a piece set in summertime that explores the sadness and beauty amidst the struggles of life.
Freewrite for a few minutes about these three items:
Example Poem: Crazy Barbecue at Jefferson Park by Willie Perdomo
Example Song: Sunshine by Atmosphere
The Prompt: Write a poem to name and defend your people.
Brainstorm answers to these questions: