Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poetry Writing Prompt ~ The Luscious Flavor of Bare Bones Poetry

Today’s prompt is different than any I have written so far. It includes some skill building that will be exceptionally valuable for you as both a poet and a prose writer as well.

I go to a lot of Open Mics and Poetry Slams and the biggest criticism I have of performers is they don’t know when to stop writing.

They write five stanzas more than they need to tell the story they are telling!

They are having such a good time with the words themselves they forget there is a reader out there who they more than likely have lost by now.

When I was just starting out as a writer, I couldn’t imagine cutting half of an essay or half of a poem. Now I love cutting down to the bare bones of a poem knowing full well that if I want to go back and add more, I may. You are the boss of your words, remember.

I am going to let you in on a secret: when you learn to be ruthless with your cuts, your writing will improve more than you may even imagine right now.

My poem today will be written from words from Terry Tempest Williams: 
Prompt: Fetch a book off your shelf, any book, and turn to a random page. Pluck out three words from the page, any page. Make those three words the subject or the inspiration or, perhaps, a character in your poem.

Playfully scribe a poem from these words.

Take a few minutes with it, reading it aloud, getting to know it.

And then start reducing its girth. Start cutting with any unnecessary words. This is your time to make sure each and every word in your poem is essential.

It would be like turning a three stanza poem into a haiku or an epic poem into a ciquain. It is like the fun writing practice of writing a six word memoir.

The intent here is to help you practice writing and revising differently.

I tend to grumble at the thought, so please know I’m writing alongside you. I got some new books from Amazon today. I will put them on the table, close my eyes and choose. I will open a book … to any page and then point to words.

Whatever it is, it is.

A poem will be born,

Word Prompt:  Bare

Sentence Starter Prompt:  The bare bones are….. (or)
The bare bones remember…. (0r)
The bare bones upset me … (or)
There’s nothing I love more than some bare bones in my…..

It has been a hectic bit of time around here in Bakersfield.  I’ve spent so much time away from my desk I am starting to have withdrawals!

I’ll be back there right after my routine with my children and I’ll add a photo and some links. They will be inspiring, most definitely.

I am so grateful for you…. Stretching arms up…… and out….. embrace each other with word-love! Bare bones abundance of word-love!



  1. I am looking forward to this prompt and playing with the words.

  2. Part of my regular poeming mantra: shrink your poems

  3. When I read the work of my favorite poets, I realize no words are wasted. Also one of the reasons I practice with haiku. The "limitations" help me expand my word craft. :~)

    1. True-that! (two fingers point to my eyes, then to yours)

  4. My poetry tends to be shorter,, it is rare for them to be overly long. I was thinking of the part about choosing three words from a. Book and creating a poem. Sounds like fun!

  5. This is one of my oldest writing inspiration tricks in the book. It is rather incredible what comes from writing something "without a purpose" beyond just writing something.

  6. As I sit at my desk, I notice the book I brought downstairs and placed on the corner the other day: It's a dictionary!
    Excuse me while I run it back upstairs or you may be subjected to some really interesting words.