The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

NaPoWriMo prompts – week one

Several of you have written in response to my NaPoWriMo prompts and shared the results on blogs or Facebook posts. I am chuffed to bits. As I hoped, they have gone off in different directions and taken on their own identity, rather than slavishly following the example of any poems I have posted. I’ll post a few links here to some of them in a day or two. But for the moment, particular thanks to Peter Richards, Robbie Burton, Sally Evans and David Seddon for road-testing my prompts so vigorously.

Here are all the prompts from NaPoWriMo so far – plus a sneak preview of Day Nine…

1   Write to yourself as a sixteen year old. What warnings, what advice would you give? If you have time – write back.

2   ‘January freesia, hot coffee’. Read Elaine Feinstein’s Getting Older. What small, physical things delight you? Write about them. Stick to the physical. See where it goes.

3   Thirteen Ways. Everybody knows this poem by Wallace Stevens. Not everyone knows this response by RS Thomas. Choose some physical thing to write about. Write about it, in thirteen ways.

4   Trains, Planes and Automobiles. Write a poem that takes place entirely inside one of these – or a boat, of course!

5   Read Alden Nowlan’s poem Great Things Have Happened. Write about a great historic moment and how it affected – or didn’t affect – your life. Diana’s death in Paris – 9/11 – the assassination of a political leader. Resist the urge for great philosophical pronouncements. Just tell it like it was.

6   Write about a friend, or friends. It needn’t be cute or even kind – see this disturbing poem as an example – but on the other hand, it could be a wonderful celebration. Keep it focused on events you have shared.

7   Mechanical disaster. That time your car/ washing machine/ plumbing broke down. What happened? Who fixed it? Was it all bad?

8   Read Roddy Lumsden, The Young. Now think of a group of people you want to address – the old? Hippies? (It will help if you don’t like them). Write a poem addressing them, as Lumsden does.

9   Read Mervyn Morris, A Chant Against Death. Write a chant against something dark – death, grief, loneliness – by summoning up the things that defeat it best. It doesn’t have to take this form, but make it strong and affirmative.

If any of these appeal to you, get writing. Yes, NaPoWriMo is an arbitrary idea but if it helps you to get some new poems, who cares? And if you have fallen off the waggon for a few days, likewise – get back on. No-one is counting and if you find this kind of routine helpful, dip into it whenever you can. Good luck.

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6 comments on “NaPoWriMo prompts – week one

  1. Polly Robinson
    April 10, 2013

    A helpful post Jo, thanks

  2. Pingback: NaPoWriMo: Day Ten | beccaaudra

  3. Pingback: NaPoWriMo (June) 1 | Cloudsforthoughts Blog

  4. Pingback: Novel Society

    • Jo Bell
      March 31, 2014

      Erm – your link is to my own NaPoWriMo prompts, not to the official ones – can you acknowledge that on your blog please? Jo Bell

  5. Pingback: NaPoWriMo Day 4 | the prismatic page

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2013 by in Writing exercises.
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