National Poetry Writing Month – Poetry Prompts

It is April 1st which means we have now entered National Poetry Writing Month!

Back in 2012, I founded a Cardiff-based writers’ group called Roath Writers. For the past three years, I’ve been keeping track of the prompts I’ve given to this group. I thought I’d share some of them here in case anyone would like a bit of poetry writing inspiration for this year’s NaPoWriMo!

At every Roath Writers’ session, I bring a poem to read and discuss before sharing a loosely connected writing prompt. So, every one of the NaPoWriMo prompts below will ask you to read a poem first before you start your own piece.

If you would prefer to download and save a copy of the prompts, rather then returning to this website each day, then you can do so here: National Poetry Writing Month – Christina Thatcher Prompts. I hope you’ll enjoy both the reading and writing process!

Please feel free to share what you think of these poems/prompts and any poetry responses you’ve written via Twitter. You can tag me (@writetoempower) and use the main hashtag (#NaPoWriMo) to chat to other poets who are taking part in this 30 day challenge. I have also set up a friendly, private Facebook group for anyone interested in discussing the prompts or sharing their work. Happy writing!

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National Poetry Writing Month Prompts – April 2020

April 1st: Read ‘FaceTime’ by Clint Smith. Write a poem which includes a telephone or another piece of technology.

April 2nd: Read ‘The Cast’ by Sharon Olds. Write a poem which includes a childhood injury, however mild or severe.

April 3rd: Read ‘Fledgling’ by Traci Brimhall. Write a poem about something ‘fledgling’—this could be a new or vulnerable feeling, relationship, experience, idea, or concept.

April 4th: Read ‘Tattoo’ by Jacqueline Saphra. Write a piece about a tattoo—yours or someone else’s, real or imagined.

April 5th: Read ‘Relax’ by Ellen Bass. Write a poem which includes the phrase ‘Bad things are going to happen’ or the word ‘Relax’. If you choose the first option, be sure to write after Ellen Bass beneath the title before sharing or publishing this piece.

April 6th: Read ‘Ritmo/Rhythm’ by Margarita Engle. Write a poem about a project, collection or activity.

April 7th: Read ‘How to Triumph Like a Girl’ by Ada Limon. Write a poem which includes a triumph or victory, however small.

April 8th: Read ‘As Far As I Know’ by Roger McGough. Write a poem which includes a lie, omission or twisted truth.

April 9th: Read ‘Monsoon Poem’ by Tishani Doshi. Write a poem which includes or references extreme weather.

April 10th: Read ‘Taking Out the Trash’ by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Write a poem about an everyday task. This could be making the bed, brushing your teeth, brewing coffee, walking the dog, etc.

April 11th: Read ‘The Woman Who Turned Down a Date with a Cherry Farmer’ by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Write a poem about a missed connection or a fruit of your choice.

April 12th: Read ‘Eating the Avocado’ by Carrie Fountain. Write a piece which includes the phrase ‘I want to describe…’. Be sure to write after Carrie Fountain beneath the title before you share or publish this piece.

April 13th: Read ‘To You’ by Kenneth Koch. Write a love or anti-love poem which includes a murder.

April 14th: Read ‘From Blossoms’ by Li-Young Lee. Write an ode celebrating a person, place, thing or idea.

April 15th: Read ‘Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota’ by James Wright. Write down one positive emotion word (i.e. joy, love, happiness, etc.) and one negative emotion word (i.e. sadness, regret, hopelessness, etc.). Write a poem inspired by both words.

April 16th: Read ‘In a Time of Peace’ by Ilya Kaminsky. Write a poem which includes something you find ‘peaceful’.

April 17th: Read ‘Field Notes on Beginning’ by Tyree Daye. Write a sequence poem which covers the span of one week—each section can represent a day, a family member, a revelation, an observed action, etc

April 18th: Read ‘Here’ by Kim Addonizio. First, spend one minute making a list of things that ‘will help’. Then either choose your favorite (or whichever one speaks to you) and write a poem which includes this.

April 19th: Read ‘For the dogs who barked at me on the sidewalks in Connecticut’ by Hanif Abdurraqib. Write an ‘I am not sorry’ poem or pick a phrase between two slashes and use this is as starting point. If you use the poet’s words or phrasing, make sure to write after Hanif Abdurraqib beneath the title before you share or publish this piece.

April 20th: Read ‘Dorothy Wordsworth’ by Jennifer Chang. Write a poem which includes a swear word and/or your own name.

April 21st: Read ‘Kid, this is Iowa’ by Jeffrey Bean. Write a poem which is titled ‘Kid, this is ______’. Make sure to write after Jeffrey Bean beneath the title before you share or publish this piece.

April 22nd: Read ‘Flight by Idrissa Simmonds’. Write a poem about flight or flying.

April 23rd: Read ‘Gratitude’ by Jon Davis. Take two minutes to write a list of things which annoy you and another list about things that make you happy. Choose one thing from each list to include in a poem.

April 24th: Read ‘Scale by Helen Mort. Write a poem which uses the word ‘scale’. This word has many meanings. If you use the poet’s words or phrasing specifically, make sure to write after Helen Mort beneath the title before you share or publish this piece.

April 25th: Read ‘Ah, Ah’ by Joy Harjo. Write a poem which uses a sound in a significant way. Spell it out. This could be a yawn, a snore, a piece of music, a creeeeek, etc.

April 26th: Read ‘Sax Burglar Blues’ by Robert Walton. Write a poem which includes a theft or burglary.

April 27th: Read ‘What the Living Do’ by Marie Howe. Write about some small, insignificant joy.

April 28th: Read ‘Naloxone’ by William Brewer. Write a poem which uses the name of a medication or seeks to answer any of the questions in the piece. If you use the poet’s words or phrasing specifically, make sure to write after William Brewer beneath the title before you share or publish your poem.

April 29th: Read ‘Why Whales are back in New York City’ by Rajiv Mohabir. Write a poem which includes migration of some kind and/or a sea creature.

April 30th: Read ‘Transplant’ by Andrew McMillan. Write a poem about a reminder or regret.

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