Twelve Poetry Prompts from the mistress of lists – Cath Vidler

1. Choose an interior-orientated object (e.g. a framed tapestry, a desk
lamp) and place it in an unfamiliar exterior context (e.g. zoo, a traffic
island). Make a poem that responds to the transplantation.

2. Imagine a vase filled with synthetic flowers. Write a poem whose
intention is to convince us that the flowers are real.

3. If you have any “scraps” or “fragments” of poetry lying around, gather them up and, without pondering the connections (or lack there-of) between them, bring them together using one of the following forms:

– list
– pantoum
– haiku

4. Write a “birthday cake” poem (three layers, 12 candles).

5. Write a “quartet” poem i.e. a poem with four stanzas, where each stanza
is written in a discrete, yet harmonising, voice.

6. Try and draft the most boring 10 line poem you can imagine. Choose
seven words from your poem and replace each of them with an ice-cream
flavour. Re-draft your poem (if necessary).

7. Make a poem that responds to one of the following musical terms:

– al niente (to nothing)
– dal niente (from nothing)
– ghost note (a musical note with a rhythmic value, but no discernible pitch when played)

8. Take a poem you have already written, or a poem by someone else. Write
that poem’s non-identical twin.

9. Write a count-down syllabic poem e.g. a 15 line poem where the first
line has 15 syllables and each subsequent line’s count decreases by one

10. Write two versions of the same poem: “plugged” and “un-plugged”.

11. Write a list of adjective-noun pairs where adjectives are chosen for
the sounds they make, not for their meanings.

12. Write a very short, yet potently flavoured, ode to your favourite

Cath Vidler edits trans-Tasman literary magazine Snorkel, and her first poetry collection “Furious Triangle” was published by Puncher and Wattmann in 2011. Cath has been a member of two fantastic IIML workshops: Creative Writing in the Marketplace (convened by Chris Price in 2001) and the Young Adult Fiction Masterclass (convened by Kate de Goldi in 2003) and her ongoing enthusiasm for lists was inspired by the introduction of “Great Lists Of Our Time” to the IIML newsletter in 2002.