Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prompt #218 – Selfies

You’ve all probably heard of “selfies,” pictures we take of ourselves and then post on smartphones or social media such as Facebook. Some of these are funny. I even posted a close-up of my dog’s face on Facebook and noted that it was his own selfie. In a more literary/poetic mode, I recently re-read part of Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and got to thinking about “selfie poems” (poems that poets have written to be specifically “definitions” of themselves). There certainly are a lot of them, but I thought that, perhaps, a “selfie poem” with a slight twist might be interesting to try. So … this week, the challenge is to write a poem in which your past self talks to your present self.

Think in terms of who you were and who you are right now.


Begin by jotting down some character traits and experiences from your past (list, scribble).

Then, do the same thing and jot down some current character traits and experiences.

Think about what made you who you were and what makes you who you are.

Think about how you define yourself. What things define you?

After you’ve gotten some ideas, you might try writing in a dialogue format, going back and forth between “past” and “present.” (Of course, any form with which you’re comfortable is fine.)


Try using a few questions as a technique for expressing content and holding reader interest.

Experiment with sound—try to create a sense of music in your poem through alliteration, assonance, consonance, internal rhymes, off rhyme (also called slant rhyme and near rhyme), and anaphora. Use auditory imagery: give an impression of how something sounds though images.

Be sure to use concrete rather than abstract images. Change abstract words into concrete words when you revise.

Subvert the ordinary: see and show things in a new, exciting way. Take something ordinary and turn it upside down (subvert it).

Don’t overwrite—remember that less can be more.


"Song of Myself" By Walt Whitman

"Self Portrait" By Robert Creeley

"A Dialogue of Self and Soul"


  1. I was going to post a photo selfie but realized that we can't post images as comments. Ah, well ...

    I love this prompt idea -- interesting to consider how many poems are really written selfies.

    1. I didn't realize you can post a picture as a comment. I'm so sorry! What a shame! Glad you like the prompt, though.

  2. My students are going to love this. The plan is to have them take selfies with their smart phones and then write using the selfies as inspiration. Maybe some will post their pics and poems on Facebook.

    1. Great idea to use selfie photos to get the writing process started.

  3. Great idea and so "current." I really like the images you use for each prompt.

    1. Thanks, Sandy. I get many of the images from a royalty free public domain site. It's fun searching for images that fit the prompts.

  4. Life is like that

    Where are you going, child?
    I am going to find out how to live.
    Have you?
    Why did it take you so long?
    I was bound tightly
    by convention and religion
    Are you unbounded now?
    I am
    I am free
    free to be

    1. Nice, Risa! Kind of like a declaration of independence from your child self to your adult self. Concise and to the point—your signature style!!!! Thanks for sharing with us.