The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice (Two Sylvias Press, 2013) by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano is now available on Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes & Noble, and is for sale in all major online/offline bookstores as well as from independent book sellers.
As co-founder and co-editor of Two Sylvias Press, I assisted in the design/editing/publication of this amazing book. Kelli and Martha put much time and thought into these 366 (yes, leap day is included) prompts, which follow the calendar year. The exercises offer inspiration and a starting point for your poems and are fashioned so that they are appropriate for both well-established writers and those who are just beginning to write. The Daily Poet provides warm-up prompts that are perfect for writing groups, for students in the classroom, and for writing workshops. Each exercise is unique and many of them are inspired by the particular events of that calendar day: the great molasses spill in the streets of Boston, the opening day of Woodstock, Seamus Heaney’s birthday, and Mark Zuckerberg’s founding of Facebook. There are also plenty of pop-culture references as well as instructions for some interesting poetry forms with which to experiment: rondeau, glosa, and pantoum. As you move from day to day, you will be prompted to think creatively about Galileo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elvis, global climate change, your personal taboos, Oreos, surrealism, Chinese immigrants, the events of 9/11, and the contents of your spam folder.
An example of an exercise I find fun and intriguing is on March 10th:
“On this day in 1965, Neil Simon’s play, The Odd Couple, debuted. Write a poem in which two famous people you wouldn’t expect to see together interact. The people can be dead, living, or fictional. Think Frida Kahlo having a conversation with Bugs Bunny, or Elvis Presley doing a crossword puzzle with Elvis Costello. Feel free to use any two people or characters one would never expect to see together. Put them in a poem and see what they do.”
I’m also drawn to February 27th, which explores the literary device, anaphora:
“A type of parallelism created when successive lines begin with the same word or phrase, anaphora is one of the world’s oldest writing techniques, creating a driving rhythm that intensifies emotion. Great examples of anaphoric poems include Mark Strand’s “From a Litany,” Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” and Joel Brainard’s I Remember, an entire book of poems in which every line begins I remember. Choose a word or phrase and repeat it at the beginning of every line of your own poem.”
This excerpt from Kelli and Martha’s introduction to The Daily Poet beautifully sums up what this book of prompts has to offer:
“So enjoy, go forth, and write the poems you need to write. Our hope is that these exercises lead you to compose inventive, original, and downright daring poems, leaving you with a healthy stack of work that will enrich not only your life, but perhaps the lives of fellow readers.”