2021 National Poetry Writing Month – Poetry Prompts

Last year, when the pandemic was really picking up in the UK, I decided to compile some prompts for National Poetry Writing Month inspired by the ones I had been using for my Cardiff-based writers’ group, Roath Writers. It was so nice spending the long days of lockdown reading, writing and connecting with other poets. I can hardly believe it has been a whole year – and many more lockdowns – since that first blog post.

Although restrictions are starting to lift in Wales, the pandemic remains ever-present and I, like many people, am still staying at (or very close to) home. So, seeing as it is April 1st again and we are not yet out of the woods – I thought I’d share another set of prompts for this year’s NaPoWriMo for anyone out there who might like some poetry inspiration!

As before, these prompts are based on the ones I have brought to my Roath Writers group – with a few extras thrown in. 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: 2021 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 or Instagram. 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!

April 1st: Read ‘Bliss Point or What Can Best Be Achieved by Cheese’ by Benjamin Garcia. Write a poem which includes your favourite food. 

April 2nd: Read ‘The scent of fresh wood’ by Hans Børli. Write a poem which celebrates something (or someone) you trust. 

April 3rd: Read ‘There are Birds Here’ by Jamaal May. Write a poem which begins with ‘What I’m trying to say’ OR ‘There are ____ here’. If you choose the second option, be sure to write after Jamaal May beneath the title before sharing or publishing this piece.

April 4th: Read ‘Poem Beginning With A Retweet’ by Maggie Smith. Pick a random book from your shelf, turn to page 18, go to line 4, and start your poem there.

April 5th: Read ‘cutting greens’ by Lucille Clifton. Answer this question: What is on your chopping board? Carrots, watermelon, poverty, sexism? Use the line ____ is on my chopping board to start your poem.

April 6th: Read ‘A Portable Paradise’ by Roger Robinson. Write your own paradise poem – consider the following questions while writing: what does paradise look like, feel like, smell like, taste like? What does ‘paradise’ mean?

April 7th: Read ‘My People’ by Kim Moore. Write a poem about your people, whoever they are. If you use Kim’s title, be sure to write after Kim Moore beneath it before sharing or publishing this piece.

April 8th: Read ‘All The Questions’ by Robert Tremmel. Use a random question generator (like this one) to generate a question. Use your poem to answer this question. Do not include the question in the poem.

April 9th: Read ‘Mother, Washing Dishes’ by Susan Meyers. Write a poem which includes a chore or task you love, even if others don’t enjoy it.

April 10th: Read ‘The English Astronaut’ by Simon Armitage. Write a poem which explores space (within the poem’s content or form) or includes an astronaut.

April 11th: Read ‘The Murderer’ by Luke Kennard. Write a poem which includes a joke, a question or a murder.

April 12th: Read ‘My Deepest Condiments’ by Taylor Mali. Pick your own idiom or any common saying and make it strange, wrong or funny in your own poem.  

April 13th: Read ‘Pardon my Heart’ by Markus Jackson. Write your own ‘pardon’ poem which can speak to something concrete (i.e. Pardon my leg) or abstract (i.e. Pardon my hope). Be sure to write after Markus Jackson beneath your title before sharing or publishing this piece.

April 14th: Read ‘Coconut’ by Paul Hostovsky. Write a poem which includes a piece of produce from the grocery store and a strong emotion.

April 15th: Read ‘Relic’ by Katherine Stansfield. Write a poem which includes a religious relic, a collector’s item or a rare piece of pop culture memorabilia.  

April 16th: Read ‘Poplar Street’ by Chen Chen. Pick a street name for your title – one you know well or one you want to visit – and begin your poem. See where it takes you.

April 17th: Read ‘Scary Movies’ by Kim Addonizio. Write your own poem which includes your favourite scary movie, scary life moments or both.

April 18th: Read ‘There’s Chaos in my Cornflakes’ by William Gee. Write a poem which includes a breakfast cereal and a crisis or catastrophe.

April 19th: Read ‘Pokédex Entry #4: Charmander’ by Marlin M. Jenkins. Write your own poem which includes a beloved character (from a game, TV show, movie, etc) OR a beloved toy you had growing up.

April 20th: Read ‘The Hummingbird Nest’ by Pascale Petit. Write a poem which includes a bird’s nest, eggs and/or bones.

April 21st: Read ’Find Work’ by Rhian P Espaillat. Write a poem which explores the nature of work. Work, in this case, can be physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual.

April 22nd: Read ‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney. Write a poem which attempts to answer this question: What do we dig for?

April 23rd: Read ‘Song’ by Adrienne Rich. Write about loneliness as one of the following images: an empty swing, a pile of pebbles, an orange umbrella or a deep sea fish.

April 24th: Read ‘Yard’ by Caleb Femi. Write a poem which explores your own houses—whatever, wherever and whoever they might be.

April 25th: Read ‘Crow Song’ by Margaret Atwood. Listen to bird song from the RSPB website. Select a bird and write a poem in response to their song.

April 26th: Read ‘love / same old sex my pretty elbow’ by Alice Willitts. Write a poem which includes an elbow, a knee, a wrist or an ankle. Make it pretty.

April 27th: Read ‘At Last the New Arriving’ by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Use a line from this poem to begin your own piece. Be sure to write after Gabrielle Calvocoressi beneath your title before sharing or publishing this piece.

April 28th: Read ‘Self-Portrait as a Band Audition’ by Prince Bush. Write your own self-portrait poem.

April 29th: Read ‘The mother dream’ by Rebecca Perry. Write a poem in which someone comes to you in a dream to offer advice, praise something, or warn of something bad that’s about to happen.

April 30th: Read ‘Harbour’ by Grace Nichols. Write your own poem which includes the word ‘harbour’. This word has many meanings. See where the poem takes you!

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