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Poems, Poets & Prompts: It's National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month, and I feel like celebrating! I haven’t always loved poetry. When I was an undergrad studying English literature, my Modern Poetry class was the bane of my existence (I shudder to think of the dreadful paper I wrote on Wilfred Owens’ World War I poems). But becoming an Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) writing workshop facilitator changed all that.

Back in the good old days when workshops were held in person, AWA facilitators the world over placed poems and other short pieces on writers’ chairs before they came into the room. We call them “On Chairs,” and these pieces provide a bridge between the everyday world and the writing circle. First as a participant and later as a facilitator, I have appreciated this practice. As a participant, I love seeing what new poems the workshop leader has for us, and as a leader I enjoy looking for just the right pieces to inspire my participants. These days, with most workshops on Zoom, I mainly look for poems on the Poetry Foundation website so that I can share my screen and then put the link to the poem in the chat. Not quite the same feeling as placing them on chairs, but it will have to do!

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share with you a few of my most favorite “On Chairs” poems throughout the years:

Playing around with writing poems is great fun, too, of course! Here are a few of my longtime favorite poetry writing prompts:

  • Try a Mood Ring poem, which invites you to fill in the blanks. Check out my blog post here, which gives you the structure and some examples.

  • Read “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon and then write your own “Where I’m From” poem using a similar structure. This is a classic AWA prompt, and you will likely encounter it at some point in any AWA workshop. The fun thing is, no matter how many times you write it, you will come up with something different! (This is making me want to go back through my notebooks and type up all of mine. I wonder what they will reveal?)

  • Read “Things to Do Around a Lookout” by Gary Snyder and write your own list poem. Check out my blog post here, which contains the poem and suggestions for how to write your own.

  • Read “Ode to Chocolate” by Barbara Crooker, then write your own ode to something you love. You can also read a few odes from workshop participants in my blog here.

  • Read “Rules for Captain Ahab’s Provincetown Poetry Workshop” by Martín Espada, then write a poem about an obsession using a similar format.

Finally, here are a few favorite poets of mine. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the poets I return to again and again.

If you’d like to share your favorite poets, poems, prompts, or inspiration, I’m all ears! Happy National Poetry Month!

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Janice Collins - Coyle
Janice Collins - Coyle
15 de abr. de 2023

This is the one poem I got published in several websites. - Janice Collins Coyle


Still me, hold me, while I wrap you in my softness, insides crying, lying here with you beside this morning’s distant memory where once we came together, we came together! do you remember?

Now, in this morning’s light and wondering, I seem to see you there again, those sighs, our breathing quick – uncaring about the morning and light it was just night wrapped in each little finger touch we shared.

But who cares? what does it matter? this bitter chatter is only the mind and so I say to my heart, “find me take me to where you are show…

Lisa Colburn
Lisa Colburn
25 de abr. de 2023
Respondendo a

How lovely, Janice!

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