08 August 2008

To all the prompts I've loved before...

I am not ashamed to say that I have loved a lot of prompts over the years. Some more than others. Some so much that I kept running to them again and again, even though I knew there was nothing more that they could do for me. I've had dreams about prompts. I've woken up from dreams to create prompts. I've embarrassed students by making them come up with prompts. I've delighted students by making them come up with prompts. I've looked inside garbage cans because prompts told me to.

In celebration of today's holiday, I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on the prompts that I have loved the best. The number one, I must say, is "Twenty Little Poetry Projects" by Jim Simmerman, from The Practice of Poetry (my copy of which is now rather yellowed, and obviously quite loved).

I adore "Twenty Little Poetry Projects" not so much for the results that I've had with it, but for the fact that it has shown over ten years' worth of my students how to cut loose and get crazy with language. It's my favorite day of intro to poetry writing when students read their results out loud.

I'm trying to think of what my least favorite prompt would be. Perhaps its the glory of the day, but I can't think of a prompt that I really disliked. Maybe it will come to me this afternoon, as I write recommendation letters.

Anyone else care to discuss the beloved, and not-so-beloved, prompts of yesteryear?


Karen J. Weyant said...

My copy of The Practice of Poetry has also seen better days. :)

Penultimatina said...

I'm wondering if I dropped mine in the bathtub or something.

Totally yellow!

I guess I did get it in the very early 90s, though, so it is kind of old-ish.

LKD said...

My favorite prompt (which happens to be from The Practice of Poetry has always been and continues to be Rita Dove's Ten Minute Spill. No matter how many times I've used this prompt (let alone how many times I've recommended it to fellow writers), the results have never ceased to surprise me. This prompt always works and usually results in a poem that takes me down a road I would never have traveled on my own.

Write for ten minutes, incorporating a common proverb, adage, or familiar phrase (between the devil and the deep blue sea, one foot in the grave, a stitch in time saves nine, the whole nine yards, a needle in a haystack, etc.) that you have changed in some way, as well as five of the following words:









The poem must be exactly 10 lines in length.

Thanks for reminding me of this prompt. I think I'll give it a whirl today. I've been bored with my writing lately, and this prompt always knocks me out of my doldrums.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me about The Practice of Poetry, which I own, but had misplaced among stacks on my desk in my bedroom. This is one of my favorite books.

I just started a thread on my blog listing prompts for editing/revising problemmatic poem drafts. Please feel free to share yours there!

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