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
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:
This is a playlist with a series of odes written by teen poets on the Get Lit YouTube channel.
This is On Ode to the Midwest by Kevin Young. It is performed by poet M. Ayodele Heath.
This is a short film featuring Kevin Coval's Ode to Footwork. The poem is performed by Kevin Coval.
Write a poem in response to an absurd question you've been asked or write a poem to an unanswerable question.
1. Brainstorm answers to these questions:
2. Read this example poem:
What Do Women Want? by Kim Addonizio
Source: YCA Blog
Adapted from the book The Daily Poet by by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano
What’s the story behind your first or last name?
Were you named after a a family member, someone in history or literature?
Were you named after a place? A relative?
Is there a family story behind your name?
Were you almost named something else?
Do you wish you had a different name?
Are you really proud of your name or hate it for some reason?
Here are some 4 variations on this idea that might help to spark a poem.
1. If you are not sure about any family stores, ask your parents and some other relatives. Get a few different versions of the story and all the details and context before you start writing. How do you feel about the story in relation to who you are now or could have / should have been?
For example, if I or my brothers would have been girls, my mother was going to name us Jennifer.
Example Poems: "Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah" by Patricia Smith & "Fanny Linguistics: Nickole" by Nickole Brown
2. Look up the origins / meaning of your first and / or last name in a baby name book (go to the library!) or on the web on a site like Behind the Name. How is the origin story like or unlike how you see yourself or others see you?
My name is from Old Norse and it is derived from two words that translate as: "ever, always" and "ruler". Not exactly me.
Example Poem: "Say My Name" by Idris Goodwin
3. Do a vanity search on Google. Search for your first and last name. Make sure to put quotations around the name (e.g. "John Smith"). Wes Moore wrote a book about discovering another man named Wes Moore that grew up two blocks from him, but the two men's lives had very different outcomes.
Is there another person with your same name? Write a poem to them or about them. What do you both share? How are you different? If you can't find enough details, make them up.
When I look up my name, there is a dude with my first and last name who is a slam poet, and possibly, an actor who lives Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Example Poem: Sarah Kay & Phil Kay's "An Origin Story" talks about how they met and found they had a lot in common, including their last names.
4. Is there anything unique about your name or do people often ask you how to spell or pronounce it? Do you go by a nickname or a shortened version of your name that is different than your given name?
Example Poems: "Unforgettable" by Pages Matam, Elizabeth Acevedo & G. Yamazawa or "Choi Jeong Min" by Franny Choi.