Writing Prompts

Wednesday Prompt [1]

Today’s prompt is…

“Dear Diary, last night went on a date with the DuoLingo bird.”

Have fun with it!

Find more prompts at http://instagram.com/poesyprompts

Writing Prompts

Sunday Prompt: [1]

Every day I see such beautiful original pieces posted on blogs from all over the world. Creative expression is so important, especially through the difficult times. It’s been a tough year for everyone and at times it can feel like the finish line keeps moving further and further away.

Something that I find particularly soul-cleansing is to move my mind away from everything real for a moment and to write something short and silly about, well, nothing. To briefly forget about the heavy stuff and scribble a paragraph or two about something that is completely unimportant is truely therapeutic.

As we’re all looking for that bit of respite in these strange times, in my small attempt to help out, I will be posting a writing prompt every Sunday that will (hopefully) inspire your mind to move to the realm of the silly, even if only for a while.

If any of my prompts inspire you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys?), I would love to read whatever you come up with (link it in the comments below so everyone can visit your post), but even if it hides away in your notebook never to be read by anyone, I hope you have fun writing it.

Onto the main event! Today’s prompt is:

“Who knew a tea cosy could be so deadly?”

Get writing!

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Parents Just Don’t Understand – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

Something a little different today! In the opening episode of season two of Parks and Recreation, we see Ron Swanson walk into Leslie Knope’s office with something important to tell her, and in true Leslie Knope fashion, she responds by reciting am entire rap song from the 80s. Just another day at the office, right? What younger viewers may not realise is that this is song is in fact a throwback to the much beloved music of Will ‘The Fresh Prince’ Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff. The song, released in 1987, predates Will Smith’s iconic sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air by three years. Parents Just Don’t Understand peakes at #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #28 in Canada and #87 in the United Kingdom, so although some more mature viewers of Amy Poehler’s hit show would have immediately recognised the reference, there’s a good chance some younger viewers have never heard the original. Until today! Enjoy!

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The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe

Back on October 25th 1990, a very special episode of The Simpsons aired. Though in its second season, this first Halloween special was to be the beginning of an annual tradition that we would look forward to every year. This is, of course, the Treehouse of Horror series. It is hard to believe that it has been almost 31 years since Matt Groening created this charming adaptation of perhaps Poe’s most famous poem, narrated by none other than James Earl Jones. I can still remember watching it as a young child – probably not understanding it all that well but feeling spooked nonetheless! Watching it again after so many years filled me with such nostalgia. It is truly a classic Simpsons scene.


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

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The Cure at Troy – Séamus Heaney

On the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, I thought I would share with you a dedication by Irish news network RTÉ that was broadcast the day he was elected. Playing over the clip is audio of Joe Biden himself reading an excerpt from Séamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy. It is both poignant and beautiful. I hope you enjoy.

Human beings suffer

They torture one another,

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols

Beat on their bars together.

A hunger-striker’s father

Stands in the graveyard dumb.

The police widow in veils

Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave…

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a further shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles

And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:

The utter, self-revealing

Double-take of feeling.

If there’s fire on the mountain

Or lightning and storm

And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing

The outcry and the birth-cry

Of new life at its term.

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Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley: Breaking Bad

With the final installments of the hit TV show Breaking Bad looming, a teaser trailer was recently released in which the chief character Walter White recites Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem ‘Ozymandias’. Fans of the show will understand why this thrilling poem was a remarkably apt choice for the storyline. However, if you don’t follow the show you can still enjoy the video as it does not reveal anything about the show itself – no spoilers and no confusion!

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

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Sonnet XVII – Pablo Neruda: Patch Adams

Another beautiful sonnet by another wonderful poet was read to us in the film Patch Adams, the true-story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams. In this scene, Patch, a patient-turned-medical student is seen mourning the death of this girlfriend. In her honour, Patch recites part of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII (Sometimes referred to by it’s first line I Do Not Love You).

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

– Pablo Neruda

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Resume – Dorothy Parker: Girl, Interrupted

Too often known simply as Brad Pitt’s other half, it is easily forgotten that Angelina Jolie has a very impressive body of work behind her. In the acclaimed film Girl, Interrupted, Jolie’s character Lisa recites a poem by Dorothy Parker. Undisputedly one of her finest roles, with perfect ease Jolie portrays a character with a history of self-harm who has spent much of her life in institutes. Though some may find it morbid, this short and clever poem fits perfectly in the film and no doubt stuck in the minds of its viewers.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs case cramp;
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

– Dorothy Parker

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When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer – Walt Whitman: Breaking Bad

David Costabile played lovable loser Gale Boetticher on everyone’s favourite show; Breaking Bad. (Maybe not everyone’s, but if you’re going to watch a show about a high school chemistry teacher who decides to start selling meth, it should be this one.)

Gale, a self-proclaimed nerd, is a lover of Walt Whitman, and one afternoon he recites one of Whitman’s poems to Walter White.

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

– Walt Whitman