8 Writing Exercises for National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month is the perfect time to reflect on poetry’s role in your life. There are many ways to celebrate—from visiting your favorite local bookstore to attending events starring your favorite poets. It’s also a great time to think about your own writing practice, check in on your progress, and set new intentions. For those who like to write as much as they like to read, we’ve selected eight writing exercises for National Poetry Month.
1. Make a poetry fishbowl.
No fish and no water are needed for this exercise—just a pen, paper, and some kind of vessel (any bowl will do). Brainstorm as many topics as you can and write them each on a slip of paper. These topics could truly be anything, like memories, historical events, colors, or feelings. Fold up those slips of paper and drop them into your bowl. Fish out one for inspiration each time you sit down to write. You can refill the bowl as often as you like to keep the activity going all month long.
Pop into a nearby cafe, restaurant, or park with your notebook. Once you’re settled in, listen to the conversations around you. You can pull from these snippets of others’ lives for inspiration—even if the conversation is just between two birds in a nearby tree.
3. Try a sonnet.
Playing with different forms can help you break out of any style ruts you might be stuck in. They can also challenge you to work within different constraints than you’re used to. The sonnet is a great form to start with. Channel your inner Shakespeare as you write in iambic pentamer.
4. Use assonance.
Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound, like clap, hand, and stamp. While it’s not quite a rhyme, it can still be a powerful tool in your poetry arsenal. This month, try incorporating assonance in your work within lines or between them.
5. Emulate someone’s style.
As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Choose a poet you admire and try writing some poems inspired by their style. Of course, copying someone’s work is frowned upon, but taking some time to practice styles from different types of poets as an exercise is an excellent way to help you understand your own style.
6. Play song roulette.
Queue up your favorite music and hit shuffle. The first song that plays? That’s the one you’ll write about. Whether you write about how the song makes you feel, a memory from the first time you heard it, or the artist themselves, a piece of music is a great source of inspiration.
7. Draw inspiration from art.
Take a walk in a nearby gallery or art museum (bringing a notebook is highly encouraged) and see what strikes you. It could be a piece of art you’ve seen before or something entirely new. Consider why it caught your eye and use that to write your next poem. Did you relate to the piece? Did it scare you? Did it make you think of someone you know?
8. Tap into your animal instincts.
If your point of view is feeling a bit stale, get out of your own skin for a bit. Imagine being your favorite animal, or just one you see in the neighborhood. What would it be like to see through their eyes, feel what they feel, or live where they live? Write a poem from that animal’s perspective.
While these eight exercises are just a start, there are endless exercises and combinations of them you can experiment with this month. So don’t be afraid to jump in and get writing!