How to Use Poetry as a Writing Prompt

Poetry is a great way to access feelings and generate new writing, and I often use it as a prompt for free writing, a tool for reflection, or a springboard when feeling stuck. In my own writing, I find it helpful to write poetry when sorting through an issue or to communicate feelings. It is an opportunity to play with language and tell a story using details and metaphor. When working with clients, I use poetry as an invitation for both individuals and groups… it’s often relatable, brief, personal, and profound. I like to have a variety of poems on the ready so while working with client/s, I can draw on a poem that feels relevant to the situation, allowing the client/s to identify a line or lines that stands out or inspires. That line will become the first line of their writing piece.

Here’s an example:

I Am Not I
Juan Ramon Jimenez
(Translated by Robert Bly)

I am not I.
I am this one
Walking beside me whom I do not see,
Whom at times I manage to visit,
And whom at other times I forget;
The one who remains silent when I talk,
The one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
The one who takes a walk where I am not,
The one who will remain standing when I die.

I am not…
I am the one who…
How do others see you? How do you see yourself?

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