Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Poetry Game: A Poetry Prompt from Instructor Bianca Stone

In celebration of National Poetry Month, The Writer’s Center is sharing prompts from current and former instructors. This installment includes a prompt from Bianca Stone.

Photo Credit: Hillary Stone.
My favorite writing prompt is more of a game. My grandmother, Ruth Stone, came up with is many, many years ago and would always “play” it with friends and family. To start, everyone goes around in the circle and gives a vocabulary word, and everyone writes the words down in a list on their piece of paper. You keep going around until you have about 5-15 words. Then the game begins: write a poem and use the words somewhere in the poem. No one can talk while the writing is happening. Once every person is done, you go around and read your raw, wonderful poem out loud.

What’s great about this simplistic prompt?

  • New vocabulary in your poems
  • Getting out of your word-choice comfort-zone
  • Challenging yourself to not overthink while writing
  • Practicing writing on the spot
  • Becoming familiar with reading out loud
  • Hearing how other people use the same words, thus a tiny bit into their process

You can also do this by yourself! One way is to grab a book(s) and randomly look through for words that stick out to you. Make a list of words you’ve never used, or rarely use. Write your poem.

Bianca Stone is a poet and visual artist. She is the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House/Octopus Books, 2014), Poetry Comics From the Book of Hours, from Pleiades Books, and multiple chapbooks. She is also the contributing artist for a special of Antigonick, by Anne Carson. With her husband, the poet, Ben Pease, Stone is the editor of Monk Books, a small press that publishes limited-edition books of poetry, and runs The Ruth Stone Foundation, an organization based in Vermont and Brooklyn, NY, dedicated to the furthering of poetry and the arts, as well as preserving Ruth Stone's house and legacy.

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