An Invitation to Write Listening-Inspired Poetry
Poetry Prompts by Linda Eve Diamond
Whether you're an experienced poet or someone who's never considered writing a poem, I hope you'll enjoy exploring these listening-themed poetry prompts. (If a prompt gets you going and your wiring takes another direction, that's okay. Listen to your own creative instincts.) :).
Some of these prompts were used by contributors to The Art of Listening anthology. (pub. 2023 and available for free at http://LindaEveDiamond.com/art-of-listening).
Some of these prompts were used by
Write a group poem. There are several ways to write group poems. One is for you to write a line and then to pass the poem, in progress, to the next person, who passes it along, and so on. The poem can include one line per person or circle around again, and it can end with the last person or circle back to you to write the final line. Work together, as a group, on a title. (This can be done in person or through video chat, text, or email.
Think about a time when listening carefully caused you to change your mind. Write about that experience. One way to write this poem is to begin with a statement of your initial belief and end with your current belief. As you move from the first line to the last, try to transcribe your thoughts as you processed the new information and changed your thinking.
Think about your favorite sound. What does it make you feel? What memories spring up as you listen? What else does it sound like? If you were to write the sound out as a word, how would you spell it? Write down your answers and circle the key words. Write a poem that incorporates your circled words. Let the poem begin or end (or both) with the sound.
Think about some of the ways listening helps us connect. Here are a few possible ideas for poems that may focus on listening connections:
(1.) Picture a listening connection in some literal way, envision it in as much detail as possible. (For instance, picture a bridge. What kind of a bridge is it? What shape is it in? What's on either side of the bridge? What's happening on the bridge and on either side of it? What colors would you use and why?) What is the bridge called?) Write about this image. (You may choose to paint the full picture or just focus on a few key details.)
(2.) Does a particular voice or sound connect you to a time or place? Think about the sound (or voice) and the time or place. Jot down some specific details that come to mind. See where that leads you.
Write a funny poem about a listening mishap based on a misheard word or assumption. This can be real or imagined. Consider playing with a bit of dialogue. If it turns into more of a flash fiction format than a poem, that's fine. Have fun with it!
Write a poem of thanks to someone who listened to you (who either listened in a particular instance or who listened over time).
Write a poem in which each line begins with the letters of the word LISTEN. (Put the letters L I S T E N down the left-hand side of a page in bold. The first word of the first line begins with L; the first word of the second line begins with I, etc.) For a longer poem in this style (acrostic poetry), try LISTENING or LISTENING IS LOVE. (These can be on the subject of listening, but they don’t have to be. You might even find that what you write about has an unexpected connection that’s brought out by the form.)
In “Today I Will Listen” by Marva Shand-McIntosh, founder of I Love to Listen Day, Marva reminds us of ways that we can listen fully and ways that we can easily forget to listen fully. Write a poem inspired by one line of this piece, focusing on the either the thing you find most challenging or the one that feels more natural to you, whether it’s listening without interrupting, judging, second guessing, gazing, rehearsing, discounting, filtering, correcting or contradicting, or listening with attention, humility, respect, patience, understanding, awe, gladness, warmth, gratitude or reverence.
Write a poem that says something you wish you could say to someone. See if you can express it in a poem, in your own way, in your own time, without interruptions. When you’re ready, invite someone to listen.
- Write a poem inspired by the Marc Chagall painting at the bottom of this page. The painting is called "The Poet", and maybe there's something here about the poet as a listener and the kind of listening that goes into creative works. Or maybe you see something else entirely, maybe not even a poet at all. Don't feel the need to be influenced by the title. Take some time to notice the style, the colors, the details, the overall feeling. Listen to what the piece is saying to you. Write either from your own perspective or the character's perspective.
- Write about something you want people to know about you, something that shows we are individuals and not stereotypes; or write a poem addressing stereotypes in any way. More and more, we're hearing poets speak to the many ways they (and all of us) are individuals who defy stereotypes. Listen to the poems below for inspiration:
- Specific Irrelevant Details by Kamil de Chickera (written at 8 years old, presented in a film created in collaboration with a production company whose work "aims to dismantle stereotypes and show different perspectives."
- Before You Call the Cops by Tyler Merritt
- To All the People Who Hate Muslims by By Narges Anzali
- Just Because... poems by International Rescue Committee youth
Listen to these voices, then listen from within.
- Think about how listening inspires and impacts you. What do you feel inspired to share? Think about listening from any angle: interpersonal listening, inner listening, listening to sounds, listening to music, or listening to nature.
- Think about listening from your unique perspective. What have you noticed? What have learned? What do you have to tell us about listening?
- Write a poem on the theme of listening for peace. How is listening essential to finding and maintaining peace? What would a world of listeners look like? Envision a peaceful world and explore how and why listening is central to such a vision.
- Write about listening as part of a healing process. Some possible avenues to explore may be inner emotional or physical healing, the connections between inner dialogue and health, the importance of listening in the healthcare field, the power of listening to others to help us heal the larger riffs around us, or maybe the healing powers of slowing down to listen to the breath.
Bonus prompt: The Art of Listening Anthology (2023, Linda Eve Diamond, ed.) is filled with listening-inspired arts, some of which started with prompts on this page. Download your copy to find poetry and visual arts by more than 60 inspiring contributors!
Thank you for listening and for exploring ways to share your unique voice.