33 Poetry Themes and Forms to Spark Creativity

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Acrostic:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/17/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-16-theme-science/

Apocalypse (There are many ways the world can end; remember, it doesn’t have to be the whole world).

Childhood memories (If you sit and relax, you will remember more than you think you will; it doesn’t hurt to ask family members or old friends what they remember, because we all remember different things.)

Christmastide couplets (or any other holiday–even foolishness like National Donut Day, etc., can spark a verse):  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/12/27/micropoetry-monday-christmastide-couplets/

Current events (These are not my favorite, because they age-out quickly, but they might grab the most attention, as most people like to be “in the now”.)

Education (People like to learn information in new ways; make it entertaining, for even adults like to “learn through play”.)

Ekphrastic (This is a poetic form inspired by a piece of fine art): https://sarahleastories.com/2016/10/12/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-371-theme-ekphrastic-poem/

Faith and Spirituality (and extrasensory writing.)

Fairy Tales (especially the compound fractured kind):  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/02/12/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-340-theme-finally-or-at-last/

Family Dynamics (or, in my case, my crazy family): https://sarahleastories.com/2016/04/29/poem-a-day-2016-writers-digest-challenge-29-theme-haphazard/

From your own work (a piece can have many incarnations–each can take on a life of its own.  I did this with my novel, Because of Mindy Wiley): https://sarahleastories.com/2016/07/22/fiction-friday-micropoetry-based-on-the-book-2/

Haiku (the perfect balance of brevity and needing a post in a pinch): https://sarahleastories.com/2015/11/24/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-24-theme-love-or-anti-love/

Lawlessness & Disorder (just open your newspaper, peruse cold cases, etc.).

The Lighter Side (humor is always welcome.)

Limerick:  https://sarahleastories.com/2017/02/17/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-383-theme-nope/.  The Saturday Evening Post hosts a free limerick contest that’s worth checking out:  http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/limerick-contest

Love Comes Darkly

Love Story 

Modern Proverbs (list poems or life lessons, in poetic form or with line breaks): https://sarahleastories.com/2016/04/02/poem-a-day-2016-writers-digest-challenge-1-theme-foolish/

Nature (just-so stories are my favorite):  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/22/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-22-theme-nature/

Opposites (I like three-line poems where the first two lines are opposites and the third line brings them together in a surprising way.)

Our Beautiful South (or your geography; even overexposed places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York have their microcosms): https://sarahleastories.com/2014/03/02/nonet-poems-my-geography/

Pantoum (What I love about this form is that some of the lines repeat): https://sarahleastories.com/2017/02/19/pantoum-poem-an-exercise-in-repetition/

Pet Life (If you’ve never had experience with a pet, don’t worry–there are many animal stories out there.  I love stories about animals who help people, through service or therapy.)

Persona (or “human interest poem”):  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/01/26/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-337-theme-persona-poem/

Realms of Motherhood:  https://sarahleastories.com/2014/03/07/the-seven-wonders-of-hannah-an-exercise-in-non-rhyming-poetry/

Reconstruction (People, like buildings, can be torn down and rebuilt.)

Social Media

Thanatology (or any other -ology)

Things We Set on Fire (This was a title of a book that showed up on my Kindle, and I thought it so clever, I’m going to use it as a theme.)

Weapons, and Things that are Hard (Anything can be used as as weapon:  sex, the Internet, wrenches, revolvers, lead pipes, etc.)

What if? (I probably ask myself this question everyday):  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/05/05/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-348-theme-when-everything-goes/

Working  (dirty jobs, unusual jobs, etc.):  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/

The Writer’s Life (Writing about writing doesn’t have to be boring; have fun with play-on words or phrases.)

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

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The distinguished-looking man sat with the woman who would pull the thread that would help me come apart at the seams through an unholy act.

Sister Wiley wore a mask of syrupy sweetness, but the mask didn’t cover her eyes that emitted a cold, calculating glare.

Glancing in Sister Wiley’s direction I saw, as she looked at Mother, something that resembled fear, for Mother’s new faith overshone her old one.

Like the kapps Mennonite women wore, both sexes wore sacred garments under their clothes, where only God could see them.

Mother had never had any use for girlfriends before, & I wondered why she had let Sister Wiley choose to be hers.

I saw something in Elder Roberts then that I often saw in David: tolerance; but it would fail him when I needed it most.

Sister Wiley watched us from across the room, plucking a prune from a pewter platter & taking a bite, smiling that Mona Lisa smile.

David wanted me to go to University, but the Relief Society (or, as Caitlin said, the Sisterhood of the Raveling Dresses) had me rethinking such an endeavor.

The day our Little Miss stopped being a drama princess was the day we would know her personality had finally split.

I’d never seen our secular, nuclear family as isolated, but rather insulated from the world. The Mormons made me see that we were the world.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #389; Theme: Improvement

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Improvement (is an Inside Job):  In Acrostic

It starts with the self
Minimalism and mindfulness
Productivity over busyness
Recursive reading
Occupational happiness
Variety of experiences
Eat well, pray often, love the one you’re with
Making time, taking time
Endless intellectual curiosity
Not afraid to say no
Thank you, please, and I’m sorry

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-389

Summer in Spring: Love in the Afternoon

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Though I love the holiday season with all its glitz and glam, it is the warm season I long for, with its relaxing vibes.  I like to say eighty-two degrees with a breeze is my ideal.  I spend at least three hours a day outside during the summer.  If I could, I would live in a bikini, cover-up, and flip-flops year round, with my hair thrown up into a messy bun (the other kind makes me look bald).  I like not having to warm up the car, or bundle up before going outside, or having to worry about blow-drying my hair after a shower.  Summer is low-maintenance.

I guess you could say I have spring break fever.  I spent the late afternoon sunbathing on a sand-colored fleece blanket on our weedy grass, my neighbor playing “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack on the radio.  The late afternoon sun waned as I waxed philosophical, thinking about life’s unanswered questions (like “What exactly is a peanut-butter haircut?” and “If the whole world was naked, would we be skinnier?”), while my  three-year-old daughter fed sticks and leaves to the A/C fan unit.  It was the ultimate relaxation, saturated with sunshine that turned my creamy skin into brown butter.

So often, I’m doing, and I forget to just be.  I didn’t even bring a book to the blanket.  I don’t need constant stimulation.  I was letting myself have some quiet time and my daughter, some unstructured play.  I delight in the way she loves the outdoors, though she still turns into a glassy-eyed zombie with a hearing problem when she plays with our old cell phones.

I suppose that’s why I love the warm so much, because when it’s cold, I don’t spend any more time outside than I have to.  Even bundled up, it’s not comfortable to be wearing so many layers, and fun in the water is out of the question.  I love the season of chocolate bars melting before you get to the car, of ceiling fans cutting through our thick, humid air, and stroller walks at twilight, the smell of meat grilling on the back porch.  As I walk through our neighborhood and pass each house with a lighted window, I think of them as their own separate universes–our neighborhood a solar system.  It’s like walking in space.

While I walk (today, it was while I sprawled), I thought about a butterscotch milkshake I had once.  It was at Spencer’s Drive-In in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but the place is just a memory now.

 

When my daughter and I went back inside, I take a cooler shower than usual.  When I dry off, the smell of bleach from my white towel makes my nostrils smart.  (Bleaching whites are part of my spring cleaning routine.) My face feels deliciously tight, and I am ready to make my kitchen cabinet casserole (what I call spring cleaning the fridge) while my daughter, freshly-bathed and smelling of lavender and innocence, jumps on my grandmother’s love seat with the cushions out.

All is calm, all is right, until she sneezes, and I am running from the next room, scrambling around to find a wipe while begging her not to touch “it.”

 

A Time to Share: Reflections on one stop of my writing journey

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Being a guest blogger for https://getconnectdad.com/ has been a wonderful experience.  I was intrigued by the “52 Traits” we want to instill in our children; writing about them in poetic form has helped me explore such abstracts on a deeper level:  https://sarahleastories.com/get-connected-dad-my-contributions/

I’m a natural born storyteller, and I’ve found that my poems tend to be narratives with strategically-placed line breaks.  With the exception of children’s nursery rhymes, I find myself veering away from rhyme.  I like to say “metaphor is the new rhyme.”

I’ve finally become comfortable sharing my poetry in front of an audience.  My life motto has become “Aw, what the hell?”  I’ve always regretted the times I could’ve read and didn’t, but never the times I did, even if it didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked.

For example, one of my English professors told our class that my short story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck” (about what happens when a prospective member of the Church spikes the punch and brings pot brownies) was supposed to be humorous.  I was thinking, Oh, my god, don’t tell them that.  If they don’t laugh, I’ll be so embarrassed.

Even though “Punch” won first place in the college’s annual literary contest, they didn’t laugh.  That said, I was a bit uncomfortable (I’m sure I was breaking out in hives) during the reading (it was, after all, a super silly story), but I did it, and afterwards, a few people came up to me and told me how great it was.  (People may not always laugh, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it was funny; I don’t laugh at every joke I hear on “Cheers”).  One even asked for a copy.

The girl who asked for a copy used to be a member of the FLDS Church (her father had four wives), and so she understood all the nuances of my piece.  I’ve found that of all the different kinds of writing I do, I enjoy writing my humor pieces the most.  Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a funny gal (more just witty), I keep in mind that Lucille Ball was very serious in real life.

Out of the nine readers at the poetry reading at my college, I was the only one who read anything humorous  (“Hanging from the Family Tree”).  I like to say “a little subtlety and a little levity goes a long way.”  When offered the chance to read again, I read a serious poem (one I would describe as “hauntingly beautiful”), but everyone loved the first.  My inspiration for that one?  My family:  The gift that keeps on regifting.  (I was even asked to perform an encore the next day at the office.)

I’d worn my white snood; I decided that would be my schtick.  (When I used to color my hair red, I thought “The Lady in Red” had a nice ring to it; I would wear all red, down to my shoes.)  Since I had to stop coloring my hair when I was expecting (only to find I had gray hairs), I had to ditch that notion, at least during my child-bearing years.  (And have you ever tried finding red shoes?  Especially in a size 10?)

That night of the reading (taking a piece of advice one of the other students in my poetry class gave), I opened with a joke I’d overheard in the English department:

Q:  What does the Secret Service shout when they see a bullet coming towards the President?

A:  Donald!  Duck!

That icebreaker helped dispel almost all my self-consciousness.

My advice:  Don’t overthink it.  Just go for it.

 

 

#Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

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When Article met Listicle,
he was pumped full of bullets,
then given some numbers,
so he would end in the Top 10.

Sarah Lea Stories
found her doppelganger
in Sara Lee Storey,
who was about 9 floors
too tall.

She started as a period piece,
with its hard, round end,
but when she became an
apostrophe poem,
she became possessive.

He was a teller of tall stories,
she, short,
& together,
she learned how to climb those 60 stories
& trim them down.

Dot Com was a lonely man,
looking for a dash of this,
a slash of that,
but when he met a semicolon,
he met his match,
for she was a Dot Comma.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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The elder missionaries were priests;
I was a nun.
We could not touch but through words,
& I felt the trajectory of our family shift,
splintering.

When I was a girl,
I saw Mother marrying David
as keeping him close to me.
When I became a woman,
I saw it as taking him away.

Just as they believed one could be baptized by proxy,
I wondered if, in my own way,
I wanted to marry David, with Mother as my proxy.

For love,
for Mother,
David would love the Church.
For love,
for Elder Roberts,
I would do the same.

He knew himself,
but I, to myself,
was a stranger.