Poetry Prompts

Found Poetry Prompt: September 11

Next Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and in the upcoming week, people will be remembering and recounting where they were on September 11, 2001.

This week, write a found poem inspired by a source relating to the 9/11 attacks. We highly recommend the 9/11 narratives hosted online by the Library of Congress as a starting source. Click on one of the links below, then select “View Text” on the resulting page.

US Poet Laureate Philip Levine

Found Poetry Prompt: Philip Levine

On August 10, Philip Levine was named the next poet laureate of the United States. According to Librarian of Congress James Billington, “Philip Levine is one of America’s great narrative poets. His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’—about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives.”

This week’s prompt is Philip Levine.

Photo by natebeaty on Flickr

Found Poetry Prompt: Spam

We were listening to Josh and Chuck talk about Spam (mp3) recently on the Stuff You Should Know podcast and we were inspired to make it our source for this week’s found poetry prompt.
This week’s prompt is SPAM (of either kind).

Dig into the spam folder of your e-mail client and put those junk words to poetic use, or grab an article from SYSK’s post on e-mail spam or Wikipedia’s entry on electronic spam.

Prefer the canned meat variety? Write poem from the words found on a SPAM package, or visit the product’s website for more fodder. SYSK and Wikipedia also have great posts on the food product that can be mined for new poems.

Found Poetry Prompt: Grammar On

Grammar isn’t just for elementary school students any more — blow the dust off your old writing textbooks (or click over to our links below) to give traditional writing texts a new life.
This week’s prompt is: GRAMMAR ON

Many of the famous writing and grammar books — Strunk and White’s Elements of Style included (authors pictured above) — are a rich source for found poems. Dig into these texts’ imperative language and often amusing example sentences to find your found poem this week.

Found Poetry Prompt: Fairy Tales

Fairy tales have become both a staple and a point of contention in contemporary culture, with some painting them as harmless and others insisting they create unrealistic expectations about life and love. The attention these stories continue to attract these days and the availability of many of these texts online make them a perfect starting point for this week’s found poem.
This week’s theme is FAIRY TALES.

Whether you’re young or just young at heart, use one or more fairy tales as the source text for this week’s poem.

Bryan Adams Concert Stage by Anirudh Koul

Found Poetry Prompt: Backstage

When musical artists hit the road, they depend on the attention of crews at each concert location to make them feel at home and ensure the venue is properly set up for a smooth performance. To help crews prepare, artists send a rider in advance of their rider. A hospitality rider details the list of items needed to make the band or musician comfortable on the day of the show, while a technical rider provides information on the required setup for sound, lighting and other venue elements.
This week’s theme is BACKSTAGE.


This week, write a found poem from the tour rider of a famous musician or band. Visit The Smoking Gun to view a list of backstage riders for more than 300 artists, ranging from Kelly Clarkson to KISS.

Tea Party 900x400

Found Poetry Prompt: Etiquette

Whether you strive to be on your best conduct “under all circumstances in life” or believe there are times when everyone just needs to relax and check their best behavior at the door, we invite you to write a found poem related to this week’s theme.
This week’s theme is ETIQUETTE.

Use Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home as the source text for this week’s found poem — whether sincere, satire or something in between.

Photograph of female mad scientist

Found Poetry Prompt: Experiments

In the spirit of promoting the art of found poetry beyond our four issues per year, we’re launching a series of weekly poetry prompts to get poets writing found poems, erasure poems and centos all year round.

This week’s theme is EXPERIMENTS.

In honor of found poetry — an experimental poetry form — write a found poem related to the idea of experiments. Check out these sample texts/links to get you started, or use a source of your own to come up with this week’s poem.