Writing Prompt: A Poem in Parts

Written by Emily Harstone | August 7, 2014

I first did this poetry prompt when I was 14 years old. My teacher at the time asked us to write down the numbers 1 to 10 over two pages on the left hand margin and irregular intervals. I am going to ask you to do that now if you are doing this prompt on paper. If you are doing it on the computer just type the number 1.

I like to start this writing prompt, which I have done more than any other, with a title. The title is always a variation on a theme: Ten For Toronto, Ten for my Brother, Ten in the Midnight Coffee Shop, etc.  You don’t have to write a title now, but it is helpful to have a theme in mind when writing this prompt, in my experience.

The whole point of this prompt is to write a segmented poem, with ten parts, that somehow create a greater whole. While writing this you get to decide what kind of text goes between the various numbers, you get to decide if it rhymes or varies in length, all those little details are up to you. However you should make sure to play with form.

This is not a straight forward narrative or descriptive poem if it was the numbers would only impede it, use the numbers and the sections to your advantage to talk about different ideas and to vary the tone of the poem.

Happy Writing!