Friday Writing Prompts

A Writing Prompt from Julia Story

Each Friday we post one new writing prompt created by a Sarabande author. Prompts like this one are included in our online Reader's Guides along with discussion questions and suggested reading to accompany each title. So if you can't wait a week for the next prompt, visit our Reader's Guide page to find them all in one place!

Today's prompt comes from Julia Story, whose collection of prose poems, Post Moxie, won the 2009 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.


The Exercise: The Nightwatchman’s Party (based on Roger Weingarten’s “Party of the Century”)

This exercise is for a group of poets. Each participant should bring a few books on a variety of subjects: religion, physics, Barbie, the Civil War, knot-tying, etc. All of the books are placed in a central location, and each person has fifteen minutes to create word/phrase lists using the books. Once each person has a list, he or she tries to use at least a third of the words to write the first stanza of a poem called “The Nightwatchman’s Party.” After composing a ten-line stanza, everyone trades with another participant, who then writes the next ten-line stanza, and so on. At the end, each person should have a rough 30-line poem with 3 authors and a lot of collaged detail. The final step is revision: each person takes his or her poem home to tighten or revise it.