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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prompt #277 – National Poetry Month

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
– Robert Frost

It’s April again—where I live, the daffodils are in bloom, hyacinths have broken ground, and there are leaf buds on the lilacs. In addition to our natural world “rites of spring,” National Poetry Month begins today—a month-long celebration of poets and poetry.

Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th.  This month-long "event" is held every April “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the US celebrate poetry.

One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, as I’ve done for the past several years, I offer you inspiration words/phrases and related poems for each of April’s thirty days.

This year, I’ve selected poems by poets whom I call friends—poets I know personally, have read with, spent time with, and respect. Links to the poems appear beneath each day in April after the inspiration words and the titles and poets’ names. You may wish to read, write, or do both. If you choose to write, be sure to extend the inspiration and travel away from the example poems. You’re not bound to any content or subject matter in the example poems—only the inspiration itself and however loosely you wish to interpret it.


1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content or style to the examples—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The inspiration titles and the example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you, to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.

2. Let your reactions to the inspiration phrases and poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.

3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!

4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.

5. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!

As always, your sharing is welcome, 
so please don't be shy about posting your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular prompts will resume on April 29th.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!

Happy National Poetry Month!

April 1
Inspiration: Music
Example: “The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young

April 2
Inspiration: The Tree of Life
Example: “Tree of Life” by Gail Fishman Gerwin

April 3
Inspiration: Through the Lens
Example: “The Lens of Fire” by Penny Harter

April 4
Inspiration: For the Love of …
Example: “For the Love of Avocados” by Diane Lockward

April 5
Inspiration: Finding Our Way
Example: “You Are My GPS” by Linda Radice

April 6
Inspiration: Seasons
Example: “I Hate to See October Go” by Laine Sutton Johnson

April 7
Inspiration: Parental Memories
Example: “Breakfront” by Bob Rosenbloom

April 8
Inspiration: Oz and Other Mythical Places
Example: “The Yellow Brick Road” By Donna Baier Stein

April 9
Inspiration: Wilderness
Example: “Let There Be a Wilderness” by R. G. Rader

April 10
Inspiration: A Place Remembered
Example: “Morning at the Elizabeth Arch” by Joe Weil

April 11
Inspiration: Loss & Grief
Example: “Grief” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

April 12
Inspiration: Vacancies
Example: “Vacancy” by Tony Gruenewald

April 13
Inspiration: Reflections 
Example: “I Have a Theory about Reflection” by  Renée Ashley

April 14
Inspiration: Yes or No
Example: “Yes” by Catherine Doty

April 15
Inspiration: Teaching
Example: “Dream teaching” by Edwin Romond

April 16
Inspiration: Newspapers
Example: “The Star-Ledger” by B.J. Ward

April 17
Inspiration: Age
Example: “The Age” by Emily Vogel

April 18
Inspiration: Husbands & Wives
Example: “Once My Husband” by Priscilla Orr

April 19
Inspiration: What I Wanted
Example: “Thanksgiving” by Martin Jude Farawell

April 20
Inspiration: Silences
Example: “Silence” by David Crews

April 21
Inspiration: Fire
Example: “Built Fire” by Charlie Bondhus

April 22
Inspiration: Memorials
Example: “Trains: The Memorial” by Deborah LaVeglia

April 23
Inspiration: Seeing
Example: “How I Took That Picture” by Basil Rouskas

April 24
Inspiration: Evolution
Example: “Evolution” by Jessica de Koninck

April 25
Inspiration: Being Alive
Example: “The Grand Fugue” by Peter E. Murphy

April 26
Inspiration: People
Example: “Colored People” by Charles H. Johnson

April 27
Inspiration: Revelations
Example: “Revelation” by Charlotte Mandel

April 28
Inspiration: Streets as Metaphors
Example: “River Road, East Paterson” by Nancy Lubarsky

April 29
Inspiration: Rain (April Showers)
Example: “Things We Do and Don’t Say of the Rain” by Robert Carnevale (scroll down to poem)

April 30
Inspiration: Stillness
Example: “Still” by John McDermott (scroll down to poem)