Posted on

Creative writing poetry exercises

101 Poetry Prompts & Ideas for Writing Poems

These poetry prompts are designed to help you keep a creative writing practice. If you’re staring at a blank page and the words aren’t flowing, the creative writing prompts for poems can be a great way to get started.

If poetry isn’t your thing, you could always use these things to inspire other writing projects. Essays, journal entries, short stories, and flash fiction are just a few examples of ways this list can be used. You may even find this list of creative poetry writing prompts helpful as an exercise to build your skills in descriptive writing and using metaphors.

Let’s get onto the list, shall we?

Here are 101 Poetry Prompts for Creative Writing

Most of these creative writing ideas are simple and open-ended. This allows you total creative freedom to write from these poetry prompts in your own unique style, tone, and voice.

If one poetry idea doesn’t appeal to you, challenge yourself to find parallels between the prompt and things that you do enjoy writing about.

1.The Untouchable: Something that will always be out of reach

2. 7 Days, 7 Lines: Write a poem where each line/sentence is about each day of last week

3. Grandma’s Kitchen: Focus on a single memory, or describe what you might imagine the typical grandmother’s kitchen to be like

4. Taste the Rainbow: What does your favorite color taste like?

5. Misfits: How it feels when you don’t belong in a group of others.

6. Stranger Conversations: Start the first line of your poem with a word or phrase from a recent passing conversation between you and someone you don’t know.

7. On the Field: Write from the perspective of a sports ball – think about what the sports ball might feel, see, hear, think, and experience with this poetry idea!

8. Street Signs: Take note of the words on signs and street names you pass while driving, walking, or riding the bus. Write a poem starting with one of these words you notice.

9. Cold water: What feelings do you associate with cold water? Maybe it’s a refreshing cold glass of water on a hot day, or maybe you imagine the feelings associated with being plunged into the icy river in the winter.

10. Ghostwriter: Imagine an invisible ghost picks up a pen and starts writing to you.

11. Lessons From Math Class: Write about a math concept, such as “you cannot divide by zero” or never-ending irrational numbers.

12. Instagram Wall: Open up either your own Instagram account or one of a friend/celebrity and write poetry based on the first picture you see.

13. Radio: Tune in to a radio station you don’t normally listen to, and write a poem inspired by the the first song or message you hear.

14. How To: Write a poem on how to do something mundane most people take for granted, such as how to tie your shoes, how to turn on a lamp, how to pour a cup of coffee.

15. Under 25 Words: Challenge yourself to write a poem that is no more than 25 words long.

16. Out of Order: Write about your feelings when there is an out of order sign on a vending machine.

17. Home Planet: Imagine you are from another planet, stuck on earth and longing for home.

18. Uncertainty: Think about a time in your life when you couldn’t make a decision, and write based on this.

19. Complete: Be inspired by a project or task be completed – whether it’s crossing something off the never-ending to-do list, or a project you have worked on for a long time.

20. Compare and Contrast Personality: What are some key differences and similarities between two people you know?

21. Goodbyes: Write about a time in your life you said goodbye to someone – this could be as simple as ending a mundane phone conversation, or harder goodbyes to close friends, family members, or former partners.

22. Imagine Weather Indoors: Perhaps a thunderstorm in the attic? A tornado in the kitchen?

23. Would You Rather? Write about something you don’t want to do, and what you would rather do instead.

24. Sound of Silence: Take some inspiration from the classic Simon & Garfunkel song and describe what silence sounds like.

25. Numbness: What’s it like to feel nothing at all?

26. Fabric Textures: Use different fiber textures, such as wool, silk, and cotton as a poetry writing prompt.

27. Anticipation: Write about the feelings you experience or things you notice while waiting for something.

28. Poison: Describe something toxic and its effects on a person.

29. Circus Performers: Write your poetry inspired by a circus performer – a trapeze artist, the clowns, the ringmaster, the animal trainers, etc.

30. Riding on the Bus: Write a poem based on a time you’ve traveled by bus – whether a school bus, around town, or a long distance trip to visit a certain destination.

31. Time Freeze: Imagine wherever you are right now that the clock stops and all the people in the world are frozen in place. What are they doing?

32. The Spice of Life: Choose a spice from your kitchen cabinet, and relate its flavor to an event that has happened recently in your daily life.

33. Parallel Universe: Imagine you, but in a completely different life based on making a different decision that impacted everything else.

34. Mad Scientist: Create a piece based on a science experiment going terribly, terribly wrong.

35. People You Have Known: Make each line about different people you have met but lost contact with over the years. These could be old friends, passed on family, etc.

36. Last Words: Use the last sentence from the nearest book as the inspiration for the first line of your poem.

37. Fix This: Think about something you own that is broken, and write about possible ways to fix it. Duct tape? A hammer and nails?

38. Suspicion: Pretend you are a detective and you have to narrow down the suspects.

39. Political News: Many famous poets found inspiration from the current politics in their time. Open up a newspaper or news website, and create inspired by the first news article you find.

40. The Letter D: Make a list of 5 words that start with all with the same letter, and then use these items throughout the lines of your verse.

41. Quite the Collection: Go to a museum, or look at museum galleries online. Draw your inspiration from collections of objects and artifacts from your favorite display. Examples: Pre-historic days, Egyptians, Art Galleries, etc.

42. Standing in Line: Think of a time you had to stand in line for something. Maybe you were waiting in a check-out line at the store, or you had to stand in line to enter a concert or event.

43. Junk Mail Prose: Take some inspiration from your latest junk mail. Maybe it’s a grocery store flyer announcing a sale on grapes, or an offer for a credit card.

44. Recipe: Write your poem in the form of a recipe. This can be for something tangible, such as a cake, or it can be a more abstract concept such as love or happiness. List ingredients and directions for mixing and tips for cooking up your concept to perfection.

45. Do you like sweaters? Some people love their coziness, others find them scratchy and too hot. Use your feelings about sweaters in a poem.

46. After Party: What is it like after all party guests go home?

47. Overgrown: Use Little Shop of Horrors for inspiration, or let your imagination run wild on what might happen if a plant or flower came to life or started spreading rapidly to take over the world.

48. Interference: Write a poem that is about someone or something coming in between you and your goals.

49. On Shaky Ground: Use an earthquake reference or metaphor in your poem.

50. Trust Issues: Can you trust someone you have doubted in the past?

51. Locked in a Jar: Imagine you are a tiny person, who has been captured and put into a jar for display or science.

52. Weirder Than Fiction: Think of the most unbelievable moment in your life, and write a poem about the experience.

53. Fast Food: Write a poem about fast food restaurants and experiences.

54. Unemployed: Write a poem about quitting or being fired from a job you depended on.

55. Boxes: What kinds of family secrets or stories might be hiding in that untouched box in the attic?

56. No One Understands: Write about what it feels like when no one understands or agrees with your opinion.

57. Criminal Minds: Write a poem from the perspective of a high-profile criminal who is always on the run from law enforcement.

58. Marathon Runner: Write a poem about what training you might be doing to accomplish a difficult challenge in your life.

59. Trapped: Write about an experience that made you feel trapped.

60. Passing the Church: Write a poem about noticing something interesting while passing by a church near your home.

61. Backseat Driver: Write about what it’s like to be doing something in your life and constantly being criticized while trying to move ahead.

62. Luster: Create a descriptive poem about something that has a soft glow or sheen to it.

63. Clipboard: Write a poem about someone who is all business like and set in their ways of following a system.

64. Doctor: Write a poem about receiving advice from a doctor.

65. First Car: Write an ode to your first car

66. Life Didn’t Go As a Planned: Write about a recent or memorable experience when nothing went according to plan.

67. Architect: Imagine you are hired to design a building for a humanitarian cause you are passionate about.

68. The Crazy Cat Hoarder: Write about someone who owns far too many cats.

69. Queen: Write a poem from the perspective of a queen.

70. Movie Character: Think of a recent movie you watched, and create a poem about one character specifically, or an interaction between two characters that was memorable.

71. Potential Energy: Write about an experience where you had a lot of potential for success, but failed.

72. Moonlight: Write about an experience in the moonlight.

73. Perfection: Write about trying to always keep everything perfect.

74. You Are Wrong: Write a poem where you tell someone they are wrong and why.

75. Sarcasm: Write a poem using sarcasm as a form of illustrating your point.

76. Don’t Cry: Write a poem about how not to cry when it’s hard to hold back the tears.

77. Listen Up: Write a poem telling someone they are better than they think they are.

78. Flipside: Find the good in something terrible.

79. Maybe They Had a Reason: Write a poem about someone doing something you don’t understand, and try to explain what reasons they might have had.

80. How to Drive: Write a poem that explains how to drive to a teenager.

81. Up & Down the Steps: Write a poem that includes the motion of going up or down a staircase

82. Basket Case: Has there ever been a time when you thought you might lose your mind? Jot your feelings and thoughts down in verse form.

83. Lucky Guess: Many times in our life we have to make a good guess for what is the best decision. Use this poetry idea to write about feelings related to guessing something right – or wrong.

84. Dear Reader: What audience enjoys reading the type of poetry you like to write? Craft a note to your potential audience that addresses their biggest fears, hopes, and dreams.

85. All or Nothing: Share your thoughts on absolutist thinking: when one’s beliefs are so set in stone there are no exceptions.

86. Ladders in the Sky: Imagine there are ladders that take you up to the clouds. What could be up there? What feelings do you have about climbing the ladders, or is their a mystery as to how they got there in the first place?

87. Always On My Mind: Compose a poem about what it’s like to always be thinking about someone or something.

88. Paranoia: What would it be like if you felt like someone was watching you but no one believed you?

89. Liar, Liar: How would you react to someone who lied to you?

90. Secret Word: What’s the magic word to unlock someone’s access to something?

91. For What It’s Worth: Use a valuable object in your home as inspiration as a poetry prompt idea.

92. Coming Home to Secrets: Imagine a person who puts on a good act to cover up a secret they deal with at home.

93. Productivity: Talk about your greatest struggles with time management and organization.

94. Defying Gravity: Use words that relate to being weightless and floating.

95. Signs of the Times: How has a place you are familiar with changed over the past 10 years?

96. Sleepless Nights: What ideas and feelings keep you up at night? What’s it like when you have to wake up in the morning on a night you can’t sleep?

97. You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit: Use one of the worst job related memories you can think of as a creative writing prompt.

98. By George: You can choose any name, but think of 3-5 notable figures or celebrities who share a common first name, and combine their personalities and physical characteristics into one piece of poetry. For example: George Washington, George Clooney, George Harrison.

99. Shelter: Write a poem about a time you were thankful for shelter from a storm.

100. Cafeteria: Create a poem inspired by the people who might be eating lunch in a cafeteria at school or at a hospital.

101. Dusty Musical Instruments: Base your poem around the plight of a musician who hasn’t picked up the guitar or touched a piano in years.

There are unlimited possibilities for ways you can use these poem ideas to write poetry. Using a list like this can greatly help you with getting into the habit of writing daily – even when you don’t feel inspired to write. While not every poem you write will be an award-winning masterpiece, using these poem starters as a regular exercise can help you better your craft as a writer.

I hope you enjoy these poetry prompts – and if you write anything you’d like to share inspired by these creative poetry writing prompts, let us know in the comments below – we love to see how others use writing ideas to create their own work!

Sharing is caring!

85 thoughts on “101 Poetry Prompts & Ideas for Writing Poems”

I had a wonderful inspiration from prompt number 49 “On Shaky Ground,” although it’s not exactly about an earthquake. I wanted to share it on here, so I hope you enjoy it!

Title: “Shaking Ground”

The ground’s shaking
My heart’s aching
I’m getting dizzy
My mind’s crazy

On shaking ground
It’s like I’m on a battleground
We’re all fighting for love
Dirtying our white glove

The ground’s shaking
My body’s quaking
Love is so cruel
Making me a fool

On shaking ground
We are all love-bound
Stuck in a crate
Nobody can avoid this fate

The ground’s shaking
We are all waking
Opening our eyes
Everyone dies

On shaking ground
Our love is profound
Although we are separate
Better places await

The ground’s shaking
Death’s overtaking
Heaven is descending
The world’s ending

On shaking ground
In love we are drowned

Awesome interpretation Amanda! Thanks for sharing!

heyyy, I have written something regarding prompt 27 and 96
The Night Charms.

Do you dread the dark;
Or do you adore the stars?
Do you really think the fire place is that warm;
Or you just envy the night charms?
The skyline tries to match the stars’ sparkle,
The sky gets dark, the vicinity gets darker.
The “sun” has set for the day being loyal;
These are now the lamps burning the midnight oil.
The Eve so busy, that everyone forgets to praise its beauty.
The sun has set without anyone bidding him an adieu,
Failed to demonstrate its scintillating view.
The moon being the epitome of perfection,
Has the black spots,
Depicting an episode of it’s dark past.

And I sit;
I sit and wonder till the dawn.
What a peaceful time it is,
To have a small world of your own.
Away from the chaos,
I found a soul that was lost.
So tired, yet radiant,
Trying to be someone she’s not in the end.
That bewitching smile held my hand,
Carried me back to shore, letting me feel my feet in the sand.
The waves moved to and fro,
Whispering to me as they go,
“Oh girl, my girl
This is the soul you have within you,
Never let it vanish,
For it alters you into something good and something new,
Don’t let the cruel world decide,
Don’t let anyone kill that merry vibe.”

Then I saw my own soul fade,
Fly into my heart,
For what it was made.
Oh dear lord,
The night’s silence became my solace,
My life lessons were made by the waves.
Who am I?
What have I done to myself?
Many questions were answered in self reproach,
The answers were still unspoken with no depth.
Oh dear night, What have you done to me?
Or should I thank you for putting a soul that I see.
The nights spent later were now spectacular,
My darkness somehow added some light to my life,
Making it fuller…
Everyday after a day, walking through the scorching lawns,
I wait for the the dusk to arrive, and then explore myself till the dawn.

This is so amazing
I ran out of words.
Very lit thoughts beautifully penned.
Keep writing like this dude.❤

That is beautiful, it inspired me to write about my fears, thank you!!

Thank you for the inspiration!
This was based of 21 and 77 (I think those were the numbers lol)

Goodbye to the days when we played together in the sun
Goodbye to the smile on your face and to all of the fun
I look at you, so dull and blue
How long before I can say hello to the real you
You are worth more than you think
At the very least, you are to me
Though there are greater things that wait for you than the least
You are worthy of the most, the greatest of things
If only goodbye could be ‘see you later’
I want to see the real you again
To your suffering I don’t want to be just a spectator
I want it all to end
Goodbye to my only friend
I want to heal you but I don’t know how
I wish I had this all figured out
Please come back to me
I just want you to be free

Thanks for sharing Amanda!

That was beautiful! I am a writer too! I actually just finished writing one but, it wasn’t from this website, just kind of something that’s been on my head for a while you know? Anyways, again, that was awesome! I am a Christian, and I love seeing people write about that kind of stuff!

I am jim from Oregon. I am also a writer, not very good but active. I am a Christian as well as you are. Sometimes it is hard to come up with something to write about.

All of a sudden, I have started to write poetry. Do you like all forms of writing? I would enjoy reading some of you work if you would you would like to s if you would like to send me some.

i have written one about frozen time:

my brother will be drawing,
his pencil wont leave the sheet,
my mother hearing the radio,
today’s news on repeat.
my sister, in fact, is making her bed,
she’ll be making it still, till the last bug is dead.
me, on the other hand,
i’ll be visiting you,
i’ll see you in action, doing the things that you do,
i’ll be happy to see you, just a last time,
i’ll kiss your still lips,
and hold for a while.
then i’ll take a plane to saudi,
where i’ll see my dad,
he’ll be swimming with turtles,
he will not seem sad.
i have lived on this earth,
for 15 whole years,
time for goodbye,
with not a single tear.

hey beautifully expressed….

I love it I tried one out myself as well
Change

She sat looking out the window.
The sound of the piano’s cheerful tune ringing out throughout the room.
The sweet smell of burnt pine emanating from her fireplace.
The sky is blue and the sun shines bright.
She closes her eyes for a second.
She opens them again.
The window is broken and scattered on the ground. The piano sits covered in ashes, every symphony played now just a distant memory replaced with a discordant melody.
The room smells of smoke and ash.
The sky is dark and rain falls on the remnants of her home.
Not a living thing in sight,not even her.

Nice one Amanda. kind of tells me the chronology of love and its eventualities.

such a dilightful poem, thanks for the word that made the day for me. you are such a good poet.

Omg! What!! This is amazing! I’d love to feature this piece on my blog monasteryjm.com.
I also love this blog post by thinkwritten.com, planning on putting the link in my next blog post so others can come over here to check it out! So helpful!

this is so great! I’ve been needing inspiration. this might work

Thank you so much for this article! I love the profundity and open-endedness of the prompts. Here is a poem I wrote, drawing inspiration from #56, “No One Understands.” I wrote this from the perspective of a psychic Arcturian Starseed in her teenage years and how the world perceives her spiritual connection; while at the same time hinting at the true meaning of her various baffling actions. Enjoy

Starseed – a poem on perspective

In the snow
She stands alone
Wrapped in shrouds of mystery
Her gentle hand gloved with giving
Caressing
A violet stone

Math class is dismissed
But there still she sits
Speaking to the ceiling in tender tones
A soft and healing resonance
Murmuring sweetly of ascension to
Another, dearer dimension

In homeroom
Her classmate weeps
Of missed planes and shattered dreams
Quietly
She strokes the hand of the suffering
And whispers then of channeling
Some celestial utopia called Arcturus
Where she claims to have been.

Please feel free to let me know where I need to improve! I’m fourteen years old and only an amateur, so a few suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, love and light

#79
I don’t know why he was so mad
Did he not get his mail
Was he already mad
Or did he only get bills

He swung his arm with force
He caused a loud bang
He hurt his own hand
He left with some blood

He is the man that punched the mailbox
His hand dripped blood on it
He left it with a dent
He left it alone after that

That’s great Michael, thank you for sharing your response to one of the prompts!

Awesome! That was simple and yet creative

Interesting tips and keywords for boosting inspiration. I’ve found some good topic for start writing. Thanks

sleepless nights (#96)

it’s never a strangled cry that drags me from my dreams,
but a gentle whisper, there to nudge the socks off my feet, and settle me back into the sheets.
i seem to wake before i’ve had a chance to fall to rest.

why is it that i can never sleep, but always dream?

sleepless nights rule my life and drag me by my toes,
throwing me into a sky of black and blue.
not a single star can break through this spillage.
and i sit and wonder in a sea of sheets, rippling around me,
why my mind can swim these dark, tangling waters and i never need to take a breath.

have you ever noticed how static-filled the dark is?
because when i lay buried under these burdens and blankets, the world seems ready to crumble under my grasp.

i can’t sleep, but i can dream,
of days when i wasn’t pulled struggling from bed but awoken into the light.
i wonder how i ever survived the grainy sky’s midnight troubles,
the oil spill of its thunderclouds,
the sandpaper raspiness of the three a.m. earth against my throat.

8 Poetry Exercises to Help Your Creativity Flow

Writing is a lot like running: it goes over better if you stretch first. It’s not easy to dive into a blank page cold, and it can be frustrating to expect a full-fledged poem on your first try. Instead, get your mind moving and maybe shake a few ideas loose with one of these eight poetry exercises. Whether you like to rhyme, write in free verse, or perform spoken word, it’s helpful to give yourself a little warm-up before you’re off to the races.

Personal History

Look up the year you were born on Wikipedia, and you’ll find a long list of events. Choose a handful you find meaningful or interesting, even if you have to do a bit of research. Then, pick one to use as a jumping off point. You can take the fictional route and imagine being a participant or observer in the event, or a more literal one and imagine all the ways this historic event has affected (or not affected) your life.

Erasure (AKA, the blackout poem)

This exercise starts with a block of text, which can come from anywhere—the newspaper, a magazine, a book, the back of a cereal box. Use a pen to underline some of your favorite words in the block. Then use a marker, white out, or a pen to omit the words you don’t love. Let the words left help you form your next poem.

Make Metaphors (or similies)

If you’re feeling stuck, don’t worry about writing an entire poem at once. Whip out a notebook and just jot down some comparisons. Start by thumbing through a book of poems, or heading outside where you can observe nature, people, and traffic. Whatever metaphors or similies you find don’t have to be groundbreaking—they don’t even have to make sense! If you come back to your list another day, there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one of those thoughts inspirational.

Sensory Observations

If you feel your creative well is running dry, slow down and pay some extra attention to the world around you. With a notebook in hand, venture out and make five sensory observations for each of your five senses. For example, in a subway station, you might see white square tiles, strangers, empty chairs, a forgotten umbrella, and graffiti. It’s easy to overlook the charming, interesting, or even haunting images that exist in your surroundings.

Alliteration lists

Create a list of word pairs or phrases using alliteration (or assonance, if you prefer). They key to making this exercise work is to not overthink it. Even if a word doesn’t fit perfectly within your alliteration or assonance rules, write it down. Let the sound of each word lead you to the next. You might be inspired mid-activity and just start writing, or you might need to sleep on it for a night and revisit your list with fresh eyes.

Synonym lists

Much like alliteration lists, synonym lists are like a good stretch before a sprint. Start with one word, then write down as many synonyms as you can, even if they’re not a perfect match. For example, the word bored could lead you to blasé, apathetic, disenchanted, jaded, lukewarm, world-weary, and so on. And don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus! Each synonym presents various shades of meaning, and you might find yourself zeroing in on a particular mood through an uncommon synonym.

Imagine you’re someone else

Whether it’s King Henry the VII, Amy Winehouse, or your next door neighbor, try imagining what life is like in someone else’s shoes. Not only is this a good practice of empathy, but it can help you get out of your own head. Try writing a poem from their perspective.

Recycle

Dust off some old poems you maybe hid away in a shoebox, or a seventh-grade homework assignment your family once hung on the fridge. You may appreciate how far your writing has come, or be surprised at how your perspective has changed. Whether you find a few gems or key phrases in your work or have an encounter with an old memory, it can be inspiring to revisit the past.

There are plenty more ways to get those creative juices flowing, you just have to be willing to explore. The important thing is this: don’t worry about forcing a poem out on the first try. Get out of your own way and give yourself some room to play, wander, and even fail. Even if an exercise feels silly, you might be surprised by what new ideas strike you later.