Saturday, August 31, 2013

Prompt #161 – The Blame Game


This week let’s take a look at blame. We all feel guilty at one point or another, and we all accept or assign blame to others. Blame is a form of judgment and censure, which, of course, can have a serious effect on relationships.

Communicating with openness and understanding isn’t always easy, and blame’s pointing finger can be a total deal breaker when it comes to a close bond (partner, spouse, child, grandchild, relative, friend, co-worker). Self-blame, too, can lead to the trap of self-victimization, guilt, shame, remorse, and depression. However we look at it, blame can be damaging and hurtful. Maybe we can use this week’s prompt to “unload” some blame. As you’re working toward that, be sure to make craft choices that will empower your poem.

1. Your reader should be left with a sense that something happened and something changed, but you don’t want to simply tell a story. A flat narrative isn’t a poem.

2. Think about how readers will “hear” your poem and what you can do to increase the poem’s sound value. In addition, how have you used form, meter, scattered or external rhyme, repetition, assonance, and alliteration to create, contribute to, or enhance meaning? 

3. How do your choices of details and diction evoke a particular mood or attitude? How does the poem generate tension?

4. What are the poem’s surprises?

5. Decide what you’re really saying (not what you’re trying to say).

Things To Think About:

1. Blaming others is easier than acknowledging our own shortcomings and accepting responsibility for them.

2. Blaming others is easier than admitting we’ve fallen short or failed, than facing our own realities.

3. Blame is easier than trying to improve.

4. Blame really is a waste of time; blaming others won’t make us feel better about ourselves.

5. Being wrongly blamed hurts.

6. It takes courage to accept blame for our actions.

7. Is there something for which you blame yourself?

8. Is there something that makes you unhappy for which you blame someone or something else?

Have you ever:

1. Blamed someone else for your bad behavior,
2. Blamed yourself for something for which you had no responsibility,
3. Been blamed unfairly by someone for something you did (thought or felt),
4. Blamed someone for something they didn’t do,
5. Willingly accepted blame for something you didn’t do,
6. Experienced a failed relationship because of blame,
7. Acknowledged a blame-error, your own or another person’s, and really worked to repair it?

Ideas for Writing:

1. You might consider writing a sonnet this week. (Click the link for explanations of sonnet forms

2. Obviously, the subject of this prompt is serious, but that doesn’t mean you have to write a serious poem. A funny poem about blame will work as well as a solemn poem.

3. Write about blaming something other than another person (animal, inanimate object). For example, write a poem about blaming the sidewalk or staircase that “tripped” you, or write a poem in which you blame the rain for ruining your favorite shoes.

4. Write a poem about blaming a situation, environment, or person for falling in love.

5. Write about a time when you were blamed unfairly or when you wrongly blamed someone else.

6. Write a poem in which you assign blame for the state of the world or some part of it.

7. Try to come up with an compositional idea that’s “outside the box;” that is, work with subject and language in a unique way. Your readers should be “winded” at least once while reading your poem. Remember that the way something is written is arguably more important than what is written.

8. Be wary of a prose-impulse when you write your poem and work on sound and unique figures of speech.



  1. I quite like this one, Adele! Blame is something we've all had experiences with. Much in this prompt to think about.

  2. A very haunting picture and a great prompt. Thanks, Adele.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Michael. I thought the same thing when I saw that image (mysterious/haunting). So glad you like the prompt.

  3. As my mother used to say, "OY!"

    You're really making me think. Some of your prompts challenge us to think beyond the obvious and to consider the psychological implications of what writing to heal our hurts might mean.

    Whew -- thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Rich! So happy to know that the prompts are making you think (that's my hope for all the readers).

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment and for your kind words!

  5. I agree with Michael that the picture is haunting. All of your pics are great. I've wanted to ask for some time if you take them yourself or gather them from other sources?

  6. Blame. No one to blame.
    Take responsibility
    Causes and effects

    1. Thanks for posting, Risa! Very nice!

      Now ... try the new prompt! It's a real challenge, but I think you'll enjoy working with it!