Writing 201: Landscape – “wetness”

“The space(s) we spend our days in have such profound effects on us. Today’s word prompt, landscape, invites you to explore your whereabouts and translate your thoughts into a poem. You could focus on the physical traits of a place you find particularly beautiful, or on the way you interact with your surroundings at home, on the way to work, or when you’re on holiday.

Remember that staple of kindergarden arts, the collage? Found poetry, today’s optional form, is the language-based variety. Like a blackmail letter in a sordid crime novel, a found poem is made up of words and letters others have created. It’s up to you, the poet, to find them (hence the name), extract them, and rejig them into something else: your poem. The classic way of going about the creation of a found poem is scissors and newspaper in hand: you cut out words and phrases and arrange them into your poem. You can then either snap a photo and upload it to your blog, or simply transcribe the resulting text into a new post.

There’s a lot you can do with enumeratio — today’s suggested literary device — in your poems (want to feel especially tweedy? Pronounce it ey-nu-may-RAH-tee-yo). As its name might suggest, it basically means constructing a list, a successive enumeration (duh!) of multiple elements in the same series.


You can’t look at the atmosphere
Every part of we is an ocean
Physical, moisture, intense
Increase the humidity
A lot of things are happening
Everywhere we are connected
So, this is complicated
Cause to warm
Travel to the southwest
Wetter areas become wetter

Coming decades



Writing 201: Hero, Ballad, anaphora/epistrophe – (and yet he didn’t cry)

“Whether it’s a hero or a heroine, your poem today should focus on a person with an outsized personality — someone who makes a splash (or a mess) whenever he or she crosses others’ path. A parent, a teacher, a writer, Batman: we all know someone heroic, whether in real life or in fiction. Of course, if you’re feeling less laudatory today, feel free to turn things around by writing about an antihero or a villain.

A ballad has something removed from daily life about it — though everyday topics can definitely be given the ballad treatment. The secret is to find the drama, the struggle, the heightened emotions of a given situation and use them to tell a story.

Today, let’s explore the potential of creative redundancy with two neighboring devices: anaphora (a-NAH-fra) and epistrophe (eh-PIS-tro-fee). You may have figured out by now that the fancier the Greek name, the simpler the device. And you’ll be right this time, too.

Anaphora simply means the repetition of the same word (or cluster of words) at the beginning of multiple lines of verse in the same poem. Epistrophe is its counterpart: the repeated words appear at the end of lines. Like most simple devices, though, the trick is in deploying them to their full effect. Repetition lends emphasis to words, adds weight, and leaves a deeper imprint in your readers’ memories. Think wisely about what it is you’re underlining.”


In an average chain cafe Hugo sat drinking an average cup of joe (and yet he didn’t cry)
He watched fat shoppers puffing carrying fat shopping bags home (and yet he didn’t cry)
Unbidden came to mind his first true love who let her long red hair flow (and yet he didn’t cry)
The coffee reminded him of that first wonderful date (and yet he didn’t cry) Continue reading

Writing 201: Fog, Elegy, Metaphor – Elegy for Shaun Maher

“Fog. Today’s word prompt can be taken in so many different directions: condensation on your car’s window. An eerie landscape (or streetscape) at dawn. Your glasses as you enter a warm room from the cold outside. The mental state of confusion, forgetfulness, or dementia. How will you introduce fog into your poem today?

Today’s form, the elegy, can trace its history all the way to ancient Greece. It started out as a poem that could be about almost any topic, as long as it was written in elegiac couplets (pairs of verse, with the first one slightly longer than the second). Over the centuries, though, it became something a bit more specific: a (more often than not) first-person poem on themes of longing, loss, and mourning.

You knew it was coming. The prince of poetic devices, the thrill up every poet’s spine. Yes: hello, metaphor. Metaphors are everywhere in poetry and in everyday speech (“I’m drowning in work,” “This problem requires brain muscle,” and on and on). They’re so ubiquitous that most people find it hard to explain what they are. So let’s try.”

The milky fog that hangs over Homerton veils all things from each other
the cat from the rat, dog from tree, the child from the mother

Bravely walk into the shroud, enveloping and you might bring to mind
That you are walking through a hole in space, soul and time

Walking down between the alley that leads from the high street to Tesco
You might walk in and find yourself 10 years ago in San Francisco

I beg you please call upon a youth called Shaun Maher
who lives with his dad in Lakeshore

If its a Saturday in April he’ll be a well fed cat dozing in the afternoon air
Out on the lawn, in a pair of cargo pants on a cheap ass lawn chair

Wake up from his slumber with a hard smack upside his dome
And tell that moron kid to keep his dumb ass home

Look that Jackass know it all deep into his bottomless brown eyes
And tell him he that his fathers friend, Smith, lies

Tell him the life promised of adventure, fabulous secrets, “so many to tell”
Is a crock of sh*t, a tissue of lies, baloney, highway to hell

Tell him that misery will fall on his current path, like November storms in the Bay
And unless he ceases from it soon there will come a day

When he’ll look in the mirror at a face that is barely his own
a name of a dead man, in a city that isn’t home

That he will walk as a lone male exiled from the pride
Hollow as an emptied bud, forced by fate to hide

On that day the grim Reaper will come looking, a long trail of lies followed
He’ll tap him on the shoulder, look him in the eye, and say

“I. know. your. name. isn’t. Hugo.”

Poetry Day 4: Animal, Concrete Poetry, Enjambment – “A Lion on the Common”


“Polar bears, microbes in your cells, unicorns, your pet hamster, lolcats: find a way to include an animal, today’s word prompt, in your poem. Or write about a situation that can bring out the animal in you (or someone else). Or dig deeper into the word’s etymology (anima = latin for breath). One way or another, give us a beast of a poem.

Poetry is, of course, a word-based form of expression. That doesn’t mean, though, that the visual layout of a poem can’t affect the way we read it. Taking this idea to a playful extreme is today’s (optional) form to explore: concrete poetry. Also known as shape poetry, the idea here is to arrange your words on the screen (or the page) so that they create a shape or an image. The meaning of the image can be obvious at first glance, or require some guesswork after reading the poem. It’s up to you to decide how difficult you want to make it for your readers.

Today’s poetic device continues the focus on the arrangement of words on the page: enjambment. It may sound like a mouthful. But what it describes is a really simple phenomenon: when a grammatical sentence stretches from one line of verse to the next.”

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Writing 201: Acrostic – Hugo Reyes / Bellerophon

Today’s word is trust: write a poem in which you address, reflect on, or tell a story about the feeling of trusting or being trusted by another (person, animal, object, potted plant…). Or about distrusting them (or not being trusted yourself).

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Writing 201: Poetry – Flow, like water. Drown the unfortunate.

Flow, like water. Drown the unfortunate.

Writing 201: Water “Today, let’s write a poem about water. And/or a haiku. And/or use a simile.”

(Parental Advisory: Violent Imagery)

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Last call! Writing 201: Poetry

Join me on the dark side: we’ll have poems!

The Daily Post

Perhaps you already love writing poetry; perhaps you’re a poet and don’t even know it. Either way, Writing 201: Poetry begins on Monday, February 16, and we’d love to see you there!

Tell me more about this poetry thing…

Even though haiku
are all some of us can write*,
poems touch us all.

Writing 201: Poetry is a two week-course. Each weekday, you’ll receive an assignment with three parts: a prompt, a poetic form, and a poetic device. You choose which you want to explore (if any). An assignment might invite you to write a poem inspired by “forgiveness.” Then, you’ll have the option to write using a particular form that we’ll introduce and explain (say, couplets). Finally, we’ll throw in an optional poetic device for you to use (for example, a synecdoche). Try all three, or any combination of them.

For a fuller description of the course, head to Ben’s original…

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