Saturday, January 2, 2016

Prompt #240 – What's Your Ism?

Welcome back to blogging here on The Music in It, and sincerest best wishes to all for a healthy and happy New Year with lots of poetry to bring you joy!

For this first prompt of the New Year, we’re going to take a quick look back at Merriam Webster’s “Word of the Year,” for 2015, which, according to Merriam Webster isn’t a word at all but, rather, a suffix—"ism." According to MW an “ism” is “a belief, attitude, style, etc., that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism.”

Merriam-Webster’s choice is based on growing numbers of people looking up “ism” words on the dictionary’s website. Some of the most prominent “isms,” according to what the dictionary company told the Associated Press about its traffic are socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism, and terrorism.


For additional info about Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year:


With “isms” in mind, your challenge for the first prompt of 2016 is to create an “ism” of your own and then write a poem about it.


1. The “ism” that you write about cannot be one that anyone might find in a dictionary. In other words, you have to make up something that no one has ever heard of before.

2. Think about things that are important to you (or go in the opposite direction and think about things that are totally unimportant to you.)

3. Begin by making a list.

4. Choose one item from your list and make it an “ism.”

5. Them write a poem about your “ism.”

6. You can be philosophical, funny, or fantastical. Take any approach that works for you and your “ism.”

7. Ferris Bueller (in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) said, “Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself.” How does your created “ism” speak to who you are?


1.  Try not to write more than a dozen or fifteen lines. Understand that overstatement and the obvious are deadly when it comes to writing poetry. Don’t ramble on, and don’t try to explain everything. Think about this: a poem with only five great lines should be five lines long.

2. Show, don’t tell. Use imagery and examples to show.

3. Avoid clichés.

4. Remember what Mark Twain said about adjectives, “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.” This is especially true in poetry. So ... as you work on a poem, think about adjectives and avoid overusing them. Decide which adjectives your poem can live without. (Often the concept is already in the noun, and you don’t need a lot of adjectives to convey your meaning.)

5. Bring your poem to closure with a dazzling dismount. (Be careful not to undercut your poem’s “authority” by ending with trivia or a “so what” line that doesn’t elicit at least a sharp intake of breath.)


Dinerism (for those who love diner food)
Bookism (for those who read a lot of books)
Poetism (for those who read and/or write poetry)
Soccerism (for those who play in or watch a lot of soccer matches)
Dogism or Catism (for those who love dogs or cats)
Goofyism (for those who like to be silly)
Phoneyism (for those who are phonies)
Chocolateism (for those who love chocolate)


  1. Happy New Year, Adele and all who visit The Music In It. "Isms", what a great idea for the first prompt of 2016. :)


    Sweptism - All Is Swept Along

    Streams of atoms men and women to circle the sun
    have nothing whatsoever to do with the words that
    follow on from here or so you might think but, not so.

    A rose all the time is a rose in decay by the
    road as a dog passes the church steps being swept
    yesterday's wedding confetti by the vicar who
    looks up at the sky and sees angels circle the sun.

    The children in the belfry ring the bells, drink bottles
    of cider taken from the cellar of The Oak and
    the Druid the pub in our village in Wiltshire for
    a thousand years took in wonder to circle the sun.

    Clear, the Old Man's laughter and quick to circle the sun
    the Poet-electric speaks words forever reveal's
    the way to see a star without any words attached.


    1. Thanks so much, Lewis. Happy New Year to you! Thanks so much for sharing your poem (first of the New Year?)!

    2. Thanks for your comment, Monica! I'm sure Lewis will be pleased to see it.

    3. Hi Monica,

      Thank you so much for your comment that has made a good day even better. I am happy that you like the poem. :)

  2. So glad to start the New Year with a prompt from you, Adele! I gratefully look forward to many more!

  3. Happy New Year, Adele and blog readers! This is a fun prompt to get the creative writing rolling in my classroom. I gave the students the option of writing poems or prose pieces, and they came up with some great ideas! Thank you!

  4. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)January 7, 2016 at 7:57 PM

    Happy New year, Adele!

  5. Happy New Year, Adele! December is a busy month, and it was nice to take a little break from poetry, but this is such a great time of year to settle in and write!