Saturday, April 29, 2017

Prompt #278 – Five Words or Phrases


It’s hard to believe that National Poetry Month (and all of April) will have come and gone as of Monday. The Music In It received several thousand hits during the month, and I’m grateful to all who visited and posted comments and poems. My special thanks go to Basil Rouskas of California for posting an amazing poem every single day!

There are still today and tomorrow left for National Poetry Month, but I thought I'd post for the rest of next week a couple of days early to stay in sync with posting on Saturday mornings. For our return to regular prompts, let's ease back with something that’s uncomplicated and enjoyable.


1. Pick a poem you really like. Read the poem twice, once silently, once aloud.

2. Jot down five words or phrases from the poem that “speak” to you in some way (touch you emotionally or capture your attention or imagination).

3. Reflect for a while on the words and phrases that you selected.

4. Write down any thoughts or images that the words or phrases you chose inspire.

5. Write a poem using one or more of the words or phrases and also include some of the thoughts and images they inspired.


Make sure the words and phrases you choose are compatible in terms of the content you develop.

Include only those selections that are absolutely pertinent, and use your own creativity to alter them.

Don’t try to imitate the poem you used as your inspiration. Make the poem uniquely your own.

There should be nothing superfluous in your poem: no extra words, no extra syllables. 

Avoid explanations of what you’ve written in your poem: trust your images.

Don’t undercut your poem’s “authority” by ending with trivia or a “so what” line that doesn’t make your readers gasp.

Don’t conclude with a sentimental or emotional statement (both sentiment and emotion may be heartfelt but, when they’re blatantly stated, they can detract from the power of your poem).

Don’t close the door on your poem; leave it slightly ajar.

Link the end of the poem to the beginning but not overtly—and don’t over-write.


  1. It's hard to believe that April has come and gone. Thank you for all the rich poetry to read, reflect upon, and be inspired by. Thanks, too, to Basil Rouskas for all of his poems.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jamie. I know what you mean about April – time goes by so quickly! Yes, Basil did an amazing job with the inspiration poems in creating some very fine work of his own.

    2. Couldn't agree with Adele more, Basil. That last line is 'killer'.

  2. Nice and relaxed prompt for getting back into the usual "method." Thanks, Adele!

  3. Did this yesterday with my students, and it was a big hit! Is April really over???? Where does the time go ...

    1. Thanks for your comment, Rich! So glad to hear that your students liked the prompt!