April Poem-a-Day Challenge


Poetry Prompts by Anne Graue

Anne Graue’s April Poem-a-Day Challenge

Yes, it’s National Poetry Month again, and poets everywhere are thinking about writing a poem a day to celebrate while others are compiling lists of prompts to share with those poets. Here is my list of prompts for the month of April!

These prompts first appeared in The Westchester Review in 2021.

Happy Writing!



Daily Prompts 

Do them in order or mix-and-match! Your choice!


Day 1: Check out the history of April Fools’ Day here: https://www.britannica.com/topic/April-Fools-Day. Write a poem without using the word fool, or, in keeping with the theory that April Fools were those who continued to observe an outdated calendar that began the new year in April, write a poem about time (perhaps how the pandemic has changed our perception of time), Easter or Passover, or the vernal equinox.


Day 2: Consider the syllable. Read “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks here: https://poets.org/poem/we-real-cool. It is an iconic poem written with words of only one syllable. Write a lyric poem using only one-syllable words.



Day 3: Read T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” or as much of it as you can here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land. Here are its opening lines:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Write a poem about a month, describing it with a superlative.

Day 4: At a reading in March, Diane Seuss said, “Poetry should be more encouraging of not having virtue.” Write a poem that celebrates a vice.



Day 5: Returning to T.S. Eliot, read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/44212/the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock. In it are these lines:

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

Write a poem about what you are not or what you should have been. Use anaphora.

Day 6: April showers bring May flowers! Speaking of rain, read Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night” here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47548/acquainted-with-the-night.

Write a poem about spring rain. Make it a sonnet for extra credit!


Day 7: Read “Self-Portrait as so Much Potential” by Chen Chen here:

Who are you? Write a poem about an object with a title that begins with “Self-Portrait as…”


Day 8: Random acts. Read “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye here: https://poets.org/poem/kindness. Write your own poem with the same title.



Day 9: Searching for treasure or truth. Read “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich here: https://poets.org/poem/diving-wreck. Consider these lines:

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth

Write a poem using an extended metaphor for something you seek.

Day 10: “Nothing but blackberries.” Read “Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49004/blackberrying   Notice Plath’s use of alliteration and assonance. Write a poem about an event in which you use both of these elements.


Day 11: Pick up that Golden Shovel! Read poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gwendolyn-brooks#tab-poems. Choose one to write a Golden Shovel poem, using the words of the poem to end each of the lines of your poem.


Day 12: On language. Read Thomas Lux’s “Onomatomania” here: https://poets.org/poem/onomatomania. Write a poem about language in which you make up a word.



Day 13: Read “The World is a Beautiful Place” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti here: https://poets.org/poem/world-beautiful-place. Write a poem that expresses profound irony or longing with the same title.



Day 14: A good time to write a villanelle! Read “Testimony: 1968” by Rita Dove here: https://poets.org/poem/testimony-1968. Write a villanelle using rhyme and varied sentences throughout.



Day 15: It’s Tax Day! Read “My Debt” by Jane Hirshfield here: https://poets.org/poem/my-debt. Write a poem in which something is owed or payment is required.



Day 16: It’s still April! Read “In April” by Rainer Maria Rilke here: https://poets.org/poem/april-4. Just for a lark, write an April poem with a bird in it.



Day 17: “Why, oh why, the doily?” Remember filling stations? Read “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52193/filling-station, then write a poem with questions.



Day 18: A good day for a walk. Read “Walking Down Park” by Nikki Giovanni here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48225/walking-down-park. Write a poem about walking in a favorite place or down the street, imagining how it was before humans appeared.


Day 19: We are in the age of the Anthropocene. Read “Anthropocene” by Nomi Stone here: https://poets.org/poem/anthropocene. Write a poem about how humans have altered the earth.



Day 20: Ars Poetica? What is a poem? Read “Duplex” by Jericho Brown here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/152729/duplex. Write your own duplex about poetry or some other art form and what it conjures.



Day 21: Dog days of April? Read “We Dogs of a Thursday Off” by Alberto Rios here: https://poets.org/poem/we-dogs-thursday. Write a poem about being a dog or a dog you have loved or feared.



Day 22: Happy Earth Day! Write an ode to the earth or something in the natural world.



Day 23: Happy Birthday to the Bard! Today is also his death day. Celebrate his life by reading one or more of his sonnets here: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/Poetry/sonnets.html. Write your own Shakespearean sonnet or a sonnet in another form.



Day 24: Remembering place. Read “Forsythe Avenue Haibun” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil here: https://poets.org/poem/forsythe-avenue-haibun. Write a haibun about a place you remember.



Day 25: A cat can be a thing! Read “Thing” by Rae Armontrout here: https://poets.org/poem/thing. Write a poem about a cat or other living thing comparing it to something inanimate.



Day 26: The sound of a sprinkler! Read “Exit Strategy” by Kazim Ali here: https://poets.org/poem/exit-strategy. Write a poem about a sound in spring that conjures memories or a philosophy of life.



Day 27: Considering lilacs in April. Read “Ode to the Whitman Line ‘When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d’ here: https://poets.org/poem/ode-whitman-line-when-lilacs-last-dooryard-bloomd. Write an ode to a line of a poem.



Day 28: If music be the food of love! Read “More than whispers, less than rumors” by Bob Hicok here: https://poets.org/poem/more-whispers-less-rumors. Write a poem in which music or musical instruments play a role in making meaning.



Day 29: To be a tree! Read “Speaking Tree” by Joy Harjo here: https://poets.org/poem/speaking-tree. Write a poem about a plant or tree and what they may or may not be thinking or how they speak to one another.



Day 30: Happy Arbor Day! Read about how trees help fight climate change here: https://www.arborday.org/trees/climatechange/#:~:text=As%20trees%20grow%2C%20they%20help,benefits%20to%20us%2C%20every%20day.

Write 3 haiku or 2 tanka about trees.


You’ve done it! 30 poems in 30 days! Time to revise, edit, and put together a chapbook!


Anne Graue is the author of Full and Plum-Colored Velvet, (Woodley Press, 2020) and Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press, 2017) and has poetry in SWWIM Every Day, Verse Daily, Gargoyle, EcoTheo Review, Flint Hills Review, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and in print anthologies, including The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books, 2017) and Coffee Poems (World Enough Writers, 2019). Her book reviews appear in FF2 MediaAdroitGreen Mountains ReviewGlass Poetry Journal, and The Kenyon Review. She is a poetry editor for The Westchester Review and on the editorial board at Nimrod International Journal. 


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