Still Life ~ craft + creativity

Still Life is our regular feature that invites writers, artists, and musicians to share a favorite creative prompt or craft lesson, or to tell us about a book, poem, song, or film that’s been inspirational to them. Still Life offers opinions, experiences, or lessons on creativity, artistic processes, and the role of arts in culture.

For this installment of Still Life, we’re featuring one of the generative poetry prompts offered by poet, fiction writer, editor, and writing teacher Sarah Freligh from her popular Poetry Boot Camp classes. 

Now, here is a prompt that will satiate your hunger.

The Poem as Word Salad: A Poetry Prompt

by Sarah Freligh

In an effort to incorporate more good stuff into my diet, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect salad, one that is not a prelude to the meal but the meal itself and one that is so satisfyingly filling that I won’t need to hit the peanut butter jar to stave off the pre-bedtime munchies.

The answer every time is balance: carbs (veggies, fruit, starch and whole grains) + protein + healthy fat and voila! Delicious and not hungry. Also, layering the ingredients. This takes practice.

What works for salads also works in a poem: a balance of ingredients and practice. Have at it.

The Ingredients:

1. No more than twenty lines.
2. Use at least five of the following words in your poem:
3. Use at least three words that “balance” your list words, i.e., sorrow/glee, cradle/grave, sip/gulp. (Note that "balance" is however you interpret it). 
4. Noun a verb and verb a noun (i.e., Anthimeria, a rhetorical device that uses a word in a new grammatical shape: The woman turtled along the road. )
5. Have fun.
6. Did I say twenty lines? Twenty lines, no more. 

Sarah Freligh is the author of five books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis, and A Brief Natural History of Women, forthcoming in 2023 from Harbor Editions. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sun Magazine, the Wigleaf 50, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018), Best Microfiction (2019-22) and Best Small Fiction 2022Among her awards are poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Saltonstall Foundation.


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