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Ideas for Poems

You can write a poem:

  1. Describing a person by describing his or her belongings.
  2. Speaking from the point of view of something you lost or misplaced.
  3. In the shape of its subject (a concrete poem)
  4. Telling about something that happened long ago, to you or to someone else.
  5. As a conversation between two people, objects, ideas, or animals.
  6. Defining words in strange and new ways
  7. About something in the news.
  8. As dialogue in a play
  9. With assonance (repeating the same vowel sounds)
  10. Using alliteration (repeating the same consonant sound)
  11. About noisy things in words that sound like the noises they make.
  12. In one loooooong sentence.
  13. About your favorite sport
  14. Pretending you are somebody else.
  15. With the title acting as the first line of the poem.
  16. Explaining what it's like to wake up in the morning, using sounds.
  17. Imitating a poet or a poem you like.
  18. Describing a person by describing his actions, using strong verbs
  19. As an acrostic, using unexpected ideas. Mix long and short lines. Use your own name. Use a series of words. Put the acrostic word in the middle of the poem instead of at the beginning.
  20. About a feeling, using color, shape, texture and size adjectives.
  21. Repeating things you've overheard in the halls, fragments of conversation and statements
  22. In stanzas with the rhyme scheme abba, cddc, and so on.
  23. Using words from an entry in your classroom journal
  24. Telling what a place will look like in a hundred years, or what it looked like a century ago.
  25. Saying exactly the same thing over and over in completely different ways.
  26. As a dialogue between parts of the body (an anatomy poem)
  27. Using the melody of your favorite song, but with new words
  28. With fast sounds. With slow sounds. With sounds that are ugly, or pretty.
  29. Giving your opinion of things that happened in history
  30. As a ghost story
  31. With each line repeating one word from the previous line
  32. As a love poem to an object.
  33. As a lullaby to a young child, or as a lullaby to yourself to help you go to sleep.
  34. In chant, repeating a phrase or word and following it with everything that goes with it. Keep thinking of ways to surprise your reader. Keep changing.
  35. Going faster and faster and faster. Or slower and slower and slower.
  36. In collage, cutting words and phrases (and pictures, if you like) from the newspaper.
  37. In a series of memories, giving sensory details.
  38. In a list, varying the list and re-arranging it, and giving it an unexpected title
  39. From the inside of something inanimate.
  40. Telling things you wish people would say to you
  41. Describing events in your past, but changing all the details so that everything is different.
  42. Explaining why you don't have your homework (to your mother, to your teacher, to yourself)
  43. Rewriting a newspaper article, textbook, or passage from a book in new words.
  44. About something you are studying in science, or history, or math
  45. Explaining what's behind or under things.
  46. With nonsense words
  47. Describing something very unfair that happened to you or someone you know.
  48. As a friendly letter to someone you dislike.
  49. In a series of images that seem unconnected, but which have a secret connection for you.
  50. Going back to the beginning of something, in reverse motion
  51. About things that make you smile
  52. Sitting outside and describing what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, all the way around you.
  53. In a series of unexpected metaphors (Night is . . . )
  54. In questions you can't answer
  55. Describing a crime you committed in your imagination.
  56. Explaining why you would like to throw various things out the window
  57. In a series of four haikus (one line of 5 syllables, one line of 7 syllables, one line of 5 syllables)
  58. Telling a dream you had and explaining it, or explaining a dream you have for the future.
  59. Giving excuses
  60. Interrupting yourself.
  61. Interviewing someone you know and making the poem out of their answers.
  62. Closing your eyes and describing what you imagine
  63. In an ode (celebrating a thing or a person)
  64. In a lune (three words in the first line, five words in the second line, three words in the third line). The last line should snap the poem shut.
  65. As a to-do list, writing all the things you want to do in life or all the things that you shouldn't do.
  66. Telling what parts of the world you would like to save
  67. Based on facts from a guidebook, map, encyclopedia, dictionary, almanac, biography, or catalogue.
  68. In an angry (or sad, or excited, or surprised) tone of voice.
  69. Talking to something that can't answer back.
  70. In the voice of your parents, grandparents, or brothers.
  71. Answering a question you've always had.
  72. As quietly as you possibly can.
  73. About a place you know well, giving specific details
  74. In prepositional phrases
  75. Write a self-portrait while looking in the mirror, or imagine someone else interviewing you
  76. About a particular time of day, time of year, or holiday
  77. As a series of numbered steps, like instructions for doing something.
  78. In a formula: When I was ___________ I _____________
  79. Using internal rhyme instead of end rhyme (that is, the rhyming words are in the middles of the lines instead of the ends)
  80. About an ordinary object, in unexpected ways.
  81. Using only nouns and verbs
  82. About a myth or legend, as if you were alive at the time.
  83. Praising someone, or giving an award to that person
  84. About an imaginary city.
  85. While listening to music, using words that come to you from the music.
  86. Explaining your fears
  87. About the monster in the closet, under the bed, or outside in the hall
  88. Explaining a math problem you don't understand.
  89. Talking to an animal, or as if you were an animal.
  90. Giving your last words.
  91. From the point of view of an alien visiting Earth, or someone who just awoke from a hundred-year sleep.
  92. About your worst fears
  93. As a portrait of someone you know well
  94. With a partner, writing the first part of the line and then swapping papers and writing the second part of the line.
  95. About imaginary animals
  96. Opening a book (an encyclopedia or dictionary) and choosing a subject at random to write aout.
  97. Telling a famous story
  98. Using only adverbs and verbs
  99. In recipe form, explaining how to make something that isn't food.
  100. As a pantoum (constantly repeating lines in four-line stanzas with an abab rhyme scheme)
  101. Using a photograph, postcard, or magazine picture to inspire you
  102. In a sestina, using six key words over and over again in a pattern, in six stanzas
  103. Without the letter e.
  104. As if you were writing a math, algebra, or word problem without any numbers.
  105. Replacing the words in ordinary sentences with different words, using the same parts of speech.

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.

--Paul Dirac

 


   

This page last modified July 26, 2010
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Copyright ©2003-2010 Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
Questions? Send me a note at dturner@haverford.org