The Book of a Thousand Prompts
In talking with Maria Mazziotti Gillan about her book, Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories (Miroland/Guernica, 2013), the conversation never got around to one of the books extremely valuable resources for writers—over a hundred pages filled with 1000+ prompts.
Gillan advises randomly selecting a prompt and writing non-stop for 20 minutes. She suggests that you then put the writing away for a while and return to it later to discover what you wrote and decide if you might want to use what you’ve written to produce a poem. Free writing of this type naturally generates a lot of uninteresting text, but it also produces gems of insight and description that can provide the seeds of further writing, be it poetry or memoir.
Here’s a randomly chosen sampling:
The morning after.
Where are they gone?
What we once thought was ugly.
When am I most alone?
Gillan’s entire book is predicated on the idea that we all have personal stories worth telling and, as the subtitle suggests, we need to find the courage to tell them. For more about the book from Maria herself, give a listen to the conversation in Poetry Spoken Here Podcast #13.