Ideas for Poems
You can write a poem:
- Describing a person by describing his or her belongings.
- Speaking from the point of view of something you lost or misplaced.
- In the shape of its subject (a concrete poem)
- Telling about something that happened long ago, to you or
to someone else.
- As a conversation between two people, objects, ideas, or animals.
- Defining words in strange and new ways
- About something in the news.
- As dialogue in a play
- With assonance (repeating the same vowel sounds)
- Using alliteration (repeating the same consonant sound)
- About noisy things in words that sound like the noises they
- In one loooooong sentence.
- About your favorite sport
- Pretending you are somebody else.
- With the title acting as the first line of the poem.
- Explaining what it's like to wake up in the morning, using
- Imitating a poet or a poem you like.
- Describing a person by describing his actions, using strong
- 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.
- About a feeling, using color, shape, texture and size adjectives.
- Repeating things you've overheard in the halls, fragments
of conversation and statements
- In stanzas with the rhyme scheme abba, cddc, and so on.
- Using words from an entry in your classroom journal
- Telling what a place will look like in a hundred years, or
what it looked like a century ago.
- Saying exactly the same thing over and over in completely
- As a dialogue between parts of the body (an anatomy poem)
- Using the melody of your favorite song, but with new words
- With fast sounds. With slow sounds. With sounds that are ugly,
- Giving your opinion of things that happened in history
- As a ghost story
- With each line repeating one word from the previous line
- As a love poem to an object.
- As a lullaby to a young child, or as a lullaby to yourself
to help you go to sleep.
- 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.
- Going faster and faster and faster. Or slower and slower and
- In collage, cutting words and phrases (and pictures, if you
like) from the newspaper.
- In a series of memories, giving sensory details.
- In a list, varying the list and re-arranging it, and giving
it an unexpected title
- From the inside of something inanimate.
- Telling things you wish people would say to you
- Describing events in your past, but changing all the details
so that everything is different.
- Explaining why you don't have your homework (to your mother,
to your teacher, to yourself)
- Rewriting a newspaper article, textbook, or passage from a
book in new words.
- About something you are studying in science, or history, or
- Explaining what's behind or under things.
- With nonsense words
- Describing something very unfair that happened to you or someone
- As a friendly letter to someone you dislike.
- In a series of images that seem unconnected, but which have
a secret connection for you.
- Going back to the beginning of something, in reverse motion
- About things that make you smile
- Sitting outside and describing what you see, hear, feel, smell,
and taste, all the way around you.
- In a series of unexpected metaphors (Night is . . . )
- In questions you can't answer
- Describing a crime you committed in your imagination.
- Explaining why you would like to throw various things out
- In a series of four haikus (one line of 5 syllables, one line
of 7 syllables, one line of 5 syllables)
- Telling a dream you had and explaining it, or explaining a
dream you have for the future.
- Giving excuses
- Interrupting yourself.
- Interviewing someone you know and making the poem out of their
- Closing your eyes and describing what you imagine
- In an ode (celebrating a thing or a person)
- 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.
- As a to-do list, writing all the things you want to do in
life or all the things that you shouldn't do.
- Telling what parts of the world you would like to save
- Based on facts from a guidebook, map, encyclopedia, dictionary,
almanac, biography, or catalogue.
- In an angry (or sad, or excited, or surprised) tone of voice.
- Talking to something that can't answer back.
- In the voice of your parents, grandparents, or brothers.
- Answering a question you've always had.
- As quietly as you possibly can.
- About a place you know well, giving specific details
- In prepositional phrases
- Write a self-portrait while looking in the mirror, or imagine
someone else interviewing you
- About a particular time of day, time of year, or holiday
- As a series of numbered steps, like instructions for doing
- In a formula: When I was ___________ I _____________
- Using internal rhyme instead of end rhyme (that is, the rhyming
words are in the middles of the lines instead of the ends)
- About an ordinary object, in unexpected ways.
- Using only nouns and verbs
- About a myth or legend, as if you were alive at the time.
- Praising someone, or giving an award to that person
- About an imaginary city.
- While listening to music, using words that come to you from
- Explaining your fears
- About the monster in the closet, under the bed, or outside
in the hall
- Explaining a math problem you don't understand.
- Talking to an animal, or as if you were an animal.
- Giving your last words.
- From the point of view of an alien visiting Earth, or someone
who just awoke from a hundred-year sleep.
- About your worst fears
- As a portrait of someone you know well
- With a partner, writing the first part of the line and then
swapping papers and writing the second part of the line.
- About imaginary animals
- Opening a book (an encyclopedia or dictionary) and choosing
a subject at random to write aout.
- Telling a famous story
- Using only adverbs and verbs
- In recipe form, explaining how to make something that isn't
- As a pantoum
(constantly repeating lines in four-line stanzas with an abab
- Using a photograph, postcard, or magazine picture to inspire
- In a sestina,
using six key words over and over again in a pattern, in six
- Without the letter e.
- As if you were writing a math, algebra, or word problem without
- 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.
This page last modified
July 26, 2010
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Turner, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
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