An Invitation to Write Listening-Inspired Poetry
Poetry Prompts by Linda Eve Diamond
Please also visit An Invitation to Share!
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.) :)
Write a group poem. Find a group of people to join you in this and to agree to add one line and pass the poem, in progress, to the next person. Whether in person, on video, text or email, have each person add one line that builds on the previous lines. The poem should circle back to you. Write the final line, being sure to take into account all that’s been said. Work together on a title.
Think about a time when listening carefully caused you to change your mind. Write a poem 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.
"Listen to Connect" was the theme of the International Day of Listening (Sept. 16, 2021). Write a poem, whatever comes, based on this theme. Or try to connect with one of these ideas: (1.) Picture a listening connection in some literal way (as a bridge, or a puzzle). Describe that picture. How would you paint it? What colors would you use and why? (2.) Does a particular voice or sound connect you to a time or place? (3.) Think of how listening connects us globally, personally, and what we have to gain, in the larger sense or personally, from these connections. Consider beginning with the global and and with the personal (or vice versa) and connect the dots in between.
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. Share them. Think about how you and others connect with them. You might want to write about that, you might want to add your own voice and perspective to this growing form, or you might have reasons for not doing that.
- Listen to the poem Specific Irrelevant Details by Kamil de Chickera (written at 8 years old). - The link takes you to a film created in collaboration with What Took You So Long?, a production company whose work "aims to dismantle stereotypes and show different perspectives."
- Listen to the poem Before You Call the Cops by Tyler Merritt.
- Listen to the poem To All the People Who Hate Muslims by By Narges Anzali
- Read this selection of 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 does it mean to you? What can you tell us about it? Think about listening from any angle:
- interpersonal listening
- inner listening
- listening to sounds
- listening to music
- 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 a poem inspired by the theme of this year's International Day of Listening: listening to heal.
Thank you for listening and for participating. You can find lots of places to share your poetry with thoughtful listeners. Among them, please consider this Invitation to Share, which includes submission guidelines for an upcoming listening-themed anthology. :)