I was really stuck for an idea of what to write about today, so I visited the “Writing Prompts” page on the Poets & Writers website. There are prompts for creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This poetry prompt appealed to me:
Begin at the End
“If you’re having trouble starting a poem, begin at the end. Take a single collection of poems and make a list of the last two words from each poem. Then write your own poem using only these words. Be vigilant at first utilizing just the vocabulary from the list. After a couple of drafts, stray from the limited words to help bring the poem to its full realization.”
Inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s challenge to write a poem about small object, I’ve been rereading and studying Valerie Worth’s All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, so I turned to the first set of small poems for my list of words. Here they are:
Here is my first draft. The words and letters in bold were not on the original list.
fences set in stone,
and brown grasshoppers,
of cooked mice…
To us, it is
not to be managed
by the clock;
passing here alone
This was a fun exercise, despite the fact I have three unused words: poor, loose, and skin. Maybe I can work those into my next draft. The second stanza makes me happy because it reminds me of “The Lake Isle of Inisfree,” by William Butler Yeats, one of my all-time favorite poems.
I’d like to try this with students. It would be a great way to build vocabulary and would also help reinforce grammar skills like subject-verb agreement, tense, and more. Maybe I’ll save it for National Poetry Month.
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