Pomegranite poetry skills share

Poetry prompts and good rivers

By Sarah

The title of my most recent skills share was:

(Again, I know. Sorry. Sort of.)

As you can see, it’s not the first time the team has been treated to a jaunt down this lane. My reasoning is not just that I love poetry. It’s that it’s such an interesting way to look at and think about language and meaning, and the ways you can bend it. For a group of people who use words strategically in our work, all day long, holding a few poems up to the light can be a useful exercise.

This time was a bit different, though.

I was inspired by a tweet from Joseph Fasano, a writer and teacher who posts daily poetry threads where he shares a poem (by a writer who is not him) based on a theme, inviting people to post their own favourite poems on that topic in the thread. Which they do. It’s beautiful.

Here’s a thread I loved on the theme “quiet”.

Fasano says:

My work here is to bring poetry into spaces and lives where it might not usually have a place, and if that helps foster a love of language, then maybe somewhere a silence is broken, a mystery awakes. Maybe more people, even if they don’t become ‘writers’, will begin to think about how to use language, and how language uses them.

He recently shared a letter he received. It started like this:

Mr Fasano,

My Dad has never written anything ‘creative’ in his life. My Mom (who was a librarian) passed away recently, so I gave him a copy of your poetry prompts and he wrote this for her. I’ll type it out because his handwriting is not so sharp anymore.

Pomegranite poetry skills share

It must be quite a thing to have created a set of tools, sent them out into the world for people to use, and to have something as beautiful as this returned to you. I was intrigued about the prompt that the letter mentions – and it turns out, so were the people in the comments.

In response, Fasano shared this page from his book, The Magic Words:

Poetry Pomegranite skills share

What I love about this is the door that opens to poetry – it makes it so accessible, so suddenly.

The most beautiful phrase, to me, in the poem above is “good rivers”. It’s simple, real. It tells me so much about the person who wrote it.

I wanted to try it with the team. So we took Fasano’s prompt and wrote our own poems by filling in the blanks.

The “rules” were:

  • No one has to share their poem if they don’t want to (a “rule” carried through to this blog post).
  • If writing about a person feels too difficult for any reason, pick a character from the movie you were obsessed with when you were a teenager and write it about them.

Tempted to try it? You’d be surprised what pictures you can paint by stringing a few words together.

Like good rivers.

An egg with a horse in it.