Find out what poetry journaling can help you learn more about yourself

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This is the second installment of a one-poem-a-day guided journey through the month of April. Check out previous prompts here.

It’s been a whole week of writing poems together. On the eighth day, I begin to see poetry in everything – the trees just beginning to bloom, the roar of traffic on the city streets, the laughter of children on the playground – it all becomes a poem .

I’ve always been drawn to poetry for its heart – how it contains joy, excitement, anger, frustration. Poems always find a way to convey those emotions for me, and I hope they start to do the same for you. Before we get into our next set of prompts, I encourage you to seek out people to take this poetic journey with you. One of my greatest pleasures in life is being in community with other writers who motivate and challenge me, especially Elma’s Heart Circle, a collective of women writers founded by Cheryl Boyce Taylor. This is a diverse, multi-generational group participating in 30 Poems in 30 Days for National Poetry Month and submitting poems throughout the year. We lift each other up, create a shared space of healing, and create work that frees our voices and our stories.

More than

Creating and sustaining a group of supportive, productive, and engaged community members is essential to artistic practice. Finding a group or even just one other person who nurtures and nurtures you as an artist is essential. Find a method that works for you and let us know about your creation.

Let’s go for another week of poetry!

Prompts #8-14


Prompt #8: Ode Poem

This is one of my favorite poems to teach, especially to elementary school students. It’s basically a love poem or a way to honour, shout out, celebrate, or give extra shine to something or someone in your life. Young people are always quick with applause and ceremony to highlight all the goodness in life. Let’s all be energized by the people, places, or things we worship. The trick is to choose one thing and light up all the smallest parts of it, shining a light for everyone to see. You might want to select something unexpected or unique just for you. Maybe there’s something that needs a little extra love and you’re just the person to give it. Be inspired by: Aracelis Girmay.

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Prompt #9: Honor the body

Today’s prompt will take the ode poem one step further. We will start by thinking about our own body and what we can honor or love about it. It’s not always easy to love all parts of yourself or to look in the mirror and feel tender in your reflection. In college, I always hoped for a bigger bra size or more curves. I was constantly trying to hide what my mother called my “big Middle Eastern nose”, the same one my grandfather passed on to her. It took me a long time to love what my ancestors left me. Now it is a source of pride and love. But I still find it difficult to love myself entirely. Sometimes I pull out my wrinkles or wish there was less gray hair on my 43 year old head. Sometimes I pinch and smooth the parts of me that I want to fix or mend. Think of this poem as an antidote to all of that. What would it take to love you all, all of you? And be inspired by: Renee Watson.

  • Make a list of all the body parts you love, even the ones you might have a complicated relationship with or the ones you want to love.
  • Pick the one that resonates with you the most.
  • If you’ve chosen your hair, think about all the things you love about it. Write them down. Think of any memories or stories related to that part of the body. Write it down too.
  • You can start with the lines: Ohhhh, the hair! Dear hair… My hair makes me… I am grateful for…
poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Prompt #10: Nature Poem

Spring is the season to watch everything come to life right in front of you. Everything and everything is in bloom – the trees, the tulips growing in the parks – everything is starting to open up. I am very attentive to changes in nature. This is the perfect time to watch, study, and head to the page. For today, take a walk around your neighborhood – you can do this with your eyes and ears, you can do this by looking out the window or by lacing up your tennis shoes and taking a long walk to look outside wake. Take small notes: what changes do you see, what gives you new life? How does the weather change moods? How do you feel watching these new developments? Write everything down and start your poem. Be inspired by: Aimee Nezhukumatathil.

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Poem #11: Bodies of Water

I’ve always had a deep love for water, especially the ocean, having spent all my summers growing up on the Jersey Shore. The love was there for the creek beds and rivers while I was growing up in Kentucky too. There is something healing about water, something that reminds us of what it means to float, to give in, to surrender. Today, think about the bodies of water that have moved and inspired you. It could be a river or the bay, it could be a puddle in the park or the local public pool or swimming hole. Feel free to start with a story, or a storm. Start when the rain starts to fall or when you are perfectly settled in your raft. Start with: The ocean calls me… For me, the river… Learn to swim…

Be inspired by: Nathalie Diaz

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Prompt #12: Research Poem

I continually search books, reports and the internet to find answers to my questions. As the mother of an 8 year old and an 11 year old, I am also constantly answering or looking for answers to questions. Today’s prompt is to pick a topic you want to learn more about. I love researching weather patterns, climate change, plants, flowers, names of trees, planets, stars, etc. Pick one you can dive deep into and experience all that is possible. Put notes and ideas. Make a whole page of discoveries and remarks, then start linking those notes and visions together to create your poem. Start with: I didn’t know…I can’t believe…My eyes are open…Be inspired by: Yesenia Montilla.

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Prompt #13: Flowers and plants

Research excites me to find a topic and dig deeper, so today your challenge is to find a flower or plant that you love, a flower that you find yourself coming back to. I love the look of the peonies, the way they open and the fact that they only arrive in May in New York. I could write on their petals or how they are a sign of spring. Or I could choose to write about the spider plant, my mother’s favorite, and how it grows rosettes on its leaves for my mother but not for me! Start with colors and shapes. Start with how your heart feels when you see those flowers or plants. You could even start in your backyard or your local park. Be inspired by: Patrick Rosal.

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

Prompt No. 14: Topical Poem

The world is constantly swirling around us. When I read the news I am often overwhelmed by the chaos, the trauma, the relentless barrage of pain going on around me, and I continually go to my diary trying to make sense of the world and my place in it. inside. Several months ago, a horrific fire broke out in an apartment building near one of our public school partners in the Bronx. I walk past the building when I visit and work with these young artists[BJ1], and it makes me think of the loss and the heaviness we all carry with us. I wanted to capture that moment and show her some kind of tenderness. Pick something you’re struggling with: war, racism, sexism, disease, or any number of things that keep you up at night. Start with small lines to help you manage these fears or anxieties. Try to contain the poem with two words per line and see if you feel comfortable once you have those words on the page. Be inspired by: Layli long soldier.

poem a day by ellen hagen poems 8 to 14

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