Writing Prompts

Poetry for All: Video Writing Prompts

The “Poetry for All” video series is a short, online version of the free poetry writing workshops that Elizabeth Austen gave all around Washington state.  Each video combines a model poem with a writing activity, and is intended to be useful to the poetry-curious and beginning writers alike.  Many thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

Prompt 1: A Memorable Meal

This prompt features Li-Young Lee’s poem “Eating Together,” from Rose (BOA Editions).

Prompt 2: A Visitation

This prompt features Peter Pereira’s poem “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press).

Prompt 3: Desire

Prompt 3 features “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” by Dorothy Trogdon from her collection Tall Woman Looking (Blue Begonia Press).

Prompt 4: The Sensory World

William Stafford’s poem “Starting With Little Things” is the model poem for prompt 4. It’s in Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems (Graywolf Press).

Prompt 5: Call and Response

This prompt features Ellen Bass’s poem “The World Has Need of You” from Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press).

Poem credits:

Li-Young Lee, “Eating Together” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Peter Pereira, “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body. Copyright © 2007 by Peter Pereira. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Dorothy Trogdon, “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” from Tall Woman Looking. Copyright © 2012 by Dorothy Trogdon. Used with the permission of the author and Blue Begonia Press.

William Stafford, “Starting With Little Things” from Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. Copyright © 1987 by William Stafford. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Ellen Bass, “The World Has Need of You” from Like a Beggar. Copyright © 2014 by Ellen Bass. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Poetry Recommendations for Book Groups

Elizabeth Austen began this list during her term as poet laureate; she did so as a resource to help book groups who often read a wide array of literary fiction and nonfiction but are unsure about where to start with poetry.  I’ve added a few selections to Elizabeth’s list, and I would certainly value recommendations from others!  Elizabeth also recommends A Poet at Your Table, a program that connects book groups with local poets.

Betting on the Night by Dennis Held

Plume by Kathleen Flenniken

The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton

The Grace of Necessity by Samuel Green

What The Living Do by Marie Howe

19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye

Every Dress a Decision by Elizabeth Austen

Fast Animal by Tim Seibles

The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden by Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine

How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love With Poetry by Edward Hirsch

Red Studio by Mary Cornish

Book of Hours by Kevin Young

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Native Guard, by Natasha Trethewey

Tall Woman Looking by Dorothy Trogdon

In Orbit by Kim-An Lieberman

Oh How Can I Keep on Singing? Voices of Pioneer Women by Jana Harris

Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins

Of Gravity & Angels by Jane Hirshfield

Kyrie by Ellen Bryant Voigt

The House of Belonging by David Whyte

Smoke by Dorianne Laux

The Cartographer’s Tongue by Susan Rich

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Rose by Li-Young Lee

Split Horizon by Thomas Lux

Present Company by W.S. Merwin

The Wellspring by Sharon Olds

American Primitive by Mary Oliver

Saying the World by Peter Pereira

Lighthead by Terrance Hayes

8 thoughts on “Writing Prompts

  1. Pingback: #NationalPoetryMonth Round-up (Day 3) | Bonespark~

  2. Pingback: Poetry for All: Prompt 2 | Washington State Poet Laureate

  3. Pingback: “Poetry for All” Prompt 2: A Visitation | Elizabeth Austen

  4. Pingback: Poetry for All: Prompt 3 | Washington State Poet Laureate

  5. Pingback: Poetry for All: Prompt 4 | Washington State Poet Laureate

  6. Pingback: Poetry for All: Prompt 5 | Washington State Poet Laureate

  7. Pingback: Time to Say Thank You and Farewell | Washington State Poet Laureate

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