Friday Writing Prompts


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!

This week's prompt comes from David Hernandez, author of Hoodwinked.


Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an artist, spooling out waxy vines on the wall with a crayon. My obsession with art carried on through high school and into college. However, eventually I began filling my sketchbook more with poetry than drawings, and I recognized that my wish to be an artist was being replaced. Art is still a part of my life, and oftentimes I will write an ekphrastic poem; Hoodwinked kicks off with a poem inspired by a Damien Hirst exhibit, and in the third section of the collection there are two poems based on performance art pieces (“Challenging Mud” and “Doomed”).

Write a poem inspired by a work of art. Sit down with your chosen piece for a while and let your eyes study every square inch, then jot down the nouns you recognize, the adjectives associated with those nouns. Start the poem by describing the work (or one aspect of it) in great detail. Once you have 10-15 lines written, step away from the poem and consider what you want to ultimately say. What is the overall mood of the artwork, and what is your relationship to that emotion? What other element—historical or personal—can you connect to the piece? The key is to not merely describe what you see, but to apply another layer that is entirely your own.