Jump Start Your Writing Through Poetry

Jump Start Your Writing Through Poetry


Boyden,Jump Start Poetry

Jump Start Your Writing through Poetry

By Linda Boyden©2016

Background:At Christmas, 2011, I received a little notepad with blank pages. An invitation, my pesky little writer voice whispered. I love writing poetry and have done so most of my life, but not consistently soI challenged myself to write a poem a day. The first one from 12/27/11 reads:

A poem a day? Impossibly hard!

Do you think I keep a supply in a jar?

Poems come from my heart or the bottom of my soul.

They lurk. They shimmer and escape from my hold.

They appear when they’re ready, not when I hold a pen.

Unbidden they come, these clever word friends.

That initial one came out as a sing-songy rhyme, something I try not to do. Whether rhyming or not, to date I’ve written over 1,000 poems, one almost every day. If I’m sick or have a deadline, I’ll double up on other days. What began as a whim has become a pure labor of love. I can’t think of starting my day any other way.Bear in mind I have very little training in the art of poetry; I love words and playing with them. Then that pesky little writer’s voice returned, Why not share this fun with others?

My Poetry A Day Recipe:

Step 1: Choose a time of day and set it:

For me it’s 4 a.m. because the phones don’t ring. Hubby is still snoring sleeping so early morning is the best time for me to write. You must establish a best time for you, too. Maybe your schedule does not allow for daily writing time; I get that. Designate one time a week then and increase as your confidence grows and time allows.

Step 2: Provide a Prompt: Sources of prompts may be many things: open a dictionary or a book and choose a random word/phrase; go for a walk; find an interesting photo; choose from the Resource List I’ve included in this handout. And it’s fine if you don’t need a prompt, too.

Step 3: Set a Time Limit: I give myself 15-20 min. per morning for my daily poem. At first, I used a timer so the ding could be my signal to stop. Word to the Wise:this exercise will not often result in a finished poem. Most will be rough drafts. We can’t condemn the rough drafts to that status permanently so often I look back at my “diamonds in the rough” to see if one has the potential for revision. If so on that day I revise for the fifteen minutes instead of creating a new rough draft. I flip-flop between creating and revising.

Accidental Bonus:I have discovered this short free-write poetryactivityto be an excellent warm-up for my prose writing. It gets my ideas flowing, exactly like jump starting a car battery or stretching before exercising. Also, it’s my experience that a pre-write activity primes you to tackle your work-in-progress with enthusiasm.

My Tip Of the Iceberg List of Resources

Poetry Reference Books (most include many poem prompts):

Kooser, Ted. The Poetry Home Repair Manual.University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln and London, 2005.

Wooldridge, Susan. poemcrazy. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996.

Addonizio, Kim. Laux, Dorianne. The Poet's Companion. New York: W.W. Norton &Company, 1997.

Addonizio, Kim. Ordinary Genius. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009.

Vardell, Sylvia. Wong, Janet. The Poetry Friday Anthology. Princeton NJ: Pomelo Books, 2012.

YA/MG Novels Written in Poetry for Simply Good Reading/Inspiration:

Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog. New York: Scholastic INC. (2001).

Frost, Helen. Diamond Willow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (2008).

Grimes, Nikki. Words With Wings. Pennsylvania: WordSong, An Imprint of HIGHLIGHTS.(2013).

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. USA: Nancy Paulsen Group, An Imprint of Penguin Group, 2014.

Picture Books in Verse, for More Simply Good Reading:

Bo Flood, Nancy (Jan Sonnemair, photography). Cowboy Up. Pennsylvania. WordSong, An

Imprint of HIGHLIGHTS. (2013).

Boyden, Linda. Powwow’s Coming. Albuquerque NM. University of New Mexico Press. (2007).

Clements, Andrew (Tim Bowers, Illustrator). Dogku. New York: Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers. (2007).

Wardlaw, Lee (Eugene Yelchin, Illustrator). Won Ton. New York: Hanery Holt & Company. (2011).

A FewOnline Poetry References:

Kelly Russell Agodon: 30 Writing Prompts for National Poetry Month (April).

Joyce Sidman: Under the Teacher tab on Ms. Sidman’s website are many excellent ways to develop a love of poetry.

Janice Hardy hosts Fiction University on SCBWI’s website