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Prompting Poetry: Starting Poems

April 4, 2014

Where do we begin?  We were born in the midst of a world going about its business, things half started and half done, things in the middle of happening.  Actually, nothing begins any more.  So you may find it fitting to open a poem in the middle of its own conversation.
Here are examples of first words for a poem that don’t reveal a beginning:
    Not only that…
    And…
    Then again…
    Afterward…
    After [the barn door blew off in a storm]…
    Then…
    Twenty minutes (days) into the…
    But…
    But the best  (worst)…
There are countless other ways, of course, and you will find that starting in the middle, so to speak, changes the tone of a poem.  Give it a try.
Peggy Miller

About Peggy: Peggy Miller is a poet. She has an MFA in creative writing from American University. She serves as one of the editors of the Comstock Review, a longstanding poetry journal. Peggy leads poetry workshops. Her books include What the Blood Knows and Stone Being. A new book, The Science of Silence, is forthcoming through FootHills Publishing. Peggy was a research assistant working in biochemistry for the USDA. Her poetry is often inspired by the sciences, the fascination evoked thereof,the transcendent spirit in everyday lives.

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One Comment
  1. April 4, 2014 2:23 pm

    Jamie,
    You got me going, thank you. I’ve written a poem using your suggestion, “Not only that.” It’s titled, “Knock, Knock” and will be included it in my next post. Your post was very helpful, Claudia

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