Saturday, January 9, 2016

Prompt #241 – Nouns and Verbs to Poems

This week’s prompt is designed to be fun, but it’s not “just for fun.” I’ve often stressed how important it is to be wary of using too many adjectives, adverbs, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. With that in mind, here’s an experiment to further underscore how meaning is often inherent in nouns and verbs. It’s also an exercise in doing the opposite of what we often do when we write poems—we often over-write and then go back and condense. This week the challenge is to under-write and then add only the most perfect and necessary details.


1. Write a poem using only nouns and verbs. That right, no other parts of speech are allowed at this point in the writing. Be aware as you write that your poems must have meaning, so don’t just write any old things that pops into mind. Be sequential, make sense, create the “skeleton” of the poem to come.

2. After you’ve written your noun-verb poem read it carefully and add only enough details to give your poem a “body.” Be judicious is your use of modifiers, qualifiers, and don’t add any word that aren’t absolutely necessary.

3. Let the poem sit for a few hours, or even for a few days, then go back to it. What’s your poem about? Does it say what you wanted it to say? What’s its apparent subject? What’s the unspoken subject? At this point, you’ll continue to work the poem to give it its “spirit” (its emotional core).

4. It may be helpful to take a look at the example below and try to work through the guidelines using the example given before trying your own poem.


1. Decide what you want to write about before you begin.

2. Think about the meaning(s) you want to create.

3. Stick to your subject.

4. When you begin to flesh out your poem and then give it a spirit, think how you can most concisely give your poem a sense of relationship to its meaning and to its language. How can this poem be developed to explore, illuminate, and situate something about the human condition?

Example (Guideline 1):

went home
ate dinner
washed dishes
walked dog
saw stranger
remembered time
whispered words


  1. This suits me perfectly right now! I'm stuck in bed with a cold and just about all I can manage are nouns and verbs! Someone please pass the tissues ...

    1. Hope you're feeling much better very soon, Jamie!

  2. Fatty passed over
    Old Boy moved in
    Spaces filled
    Heart is healing

    1. As usual, you manage to convey the emotion in so few words. Happy New Year, Risa :)

    2. Thank you, Lewis. And Happy New Year to you, too!

    3. As always, so much emotion in so few words. Your signature style never fails you, Risa! Thanks for sharing with us!

  3. It will be interesting to see what the students do with this one!

    1. Hope you get some good results from the students!

  4. What a great way to focus and to lose all those extra and often not needed words. Thank you, Adele.



    Anxiety Tension
    Pain Weakness
    Bath Pleasure
    Reading Book
    Subject Poetry.

    Wine Night Bed Sleep Dream.

    Morning Bird-song
    Breakfast Newspaper.
    Passion — Writing
    Poem: concept - memory -
    imagination - patience -

    Afternoon Tea
    Meeting Poet/Editor
    Reception — Alarm —
    "a failure, sir."

    Emotion — Sad.
    Anxiety Tension
    Pain Weakness...

    Help make it good —

    Smile, keep it simple.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Lewis! Yes, the purpose of the prompt is to focus on compression and saying a lot in a few words. As you wrote, "Keep it simple." Well done!

  5. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)January 11, 2016 at 7:49 PM

    Blessings to you, Adele, and to all the blog readers throughout this New Year.

    1. Thank you, Maire! I wish you blessings, too, good health and every happiness during this New Year!

  6. Sincerest congratulations go to our faithful blog reader and poet friend, Risa Roberts. Her children's book is now available on Amazon.*Version*=1&*entries*=0

    Be sure to CHECK IT OUT!

  7. Thank you for posting this, Adele

    1. My pleasure, Risa! I wish you every success with the book!