Tongues Have Spun and Undone Empires

Spitshine Poetry is an official University of Texas poetry organization. We have meetings every Thursday in Parlin 208 at 7 pm. We are building a community of writers, poets and free-thinking people. We got a big mouth, full of words, and a bigger heart, full of love. We hope that is all okay.

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22/30 Writing Prompt: Come Celebrate

Write a poem with the ghostline, “Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed”, by Lucille Clifton.

Not sure what a ghostline is? Check out Rachel McKibbens’s description here.

21/30 Writing Prompt: Ten Things

Write a poem with the title, “Ten Things You Need to Know About Me”. Include one fact about your childhood, one food that can make all pain disappear, one thing you learned to do before you learned who you are, and one thing you do not apologize for.

20/30 Writing Prompt

Part 1: Make a list of each of the following:

- 5 places you frequent in your living space (i.e. kitchen sink, bed, closet, etc.)
- 5 words that physically describe your last, current, or first lover
- 5 different types of weather you’ve been caught or stranded in
- A word association list beginning with the word “lemon”

Part 2: Now, choose one of the following topics to write about:

- your name
- your faith
- your body
- your love

Write a poem in which you describe all the places you have left your topic from Part 2, using your inspiration lists from Part 1.

Need further prompting? Try using the ghostline, “Sometimes what keeps you alive is a mystery”, from Aracelis Girmay’s poem, “Portrait of the Woman as a Skein”, which inspired this prompt.

19/30 Writing Prompt: To Waste My Hands

after Aracelis Girmay

Make a list of all the things you have wasted your hands on. These things can be anything as concrete as people or things you’ve made as well as things as abstract as time or sadness. Come up with at least 10-15 things.

From here, you may choose to finish the piece and leave it as a list poem, or elaborate on the choices (and others) have made to waste your hands. Consider discussing the processes that your hands have been through. How have they changed? Are they new and fragile or old and wise? Are they fresh or stale? Are they forgiving or bitter? Do you recognize your hands? Why or why not?

If you need further inspiration, try incorporating this word list: walls, roof, shingles, stove, teeth, feather, miles, soar, black, ice.

18/30 Writing Prompt: Self Portrait

Make a list of each of the following things:

  • 3 smells you enjoyed as a child
  • 3 of your favorite clothing items & their significance
  • 3 experiences that shaped you as a person
  • 3 of your favorite colors & sounds
  • A word association list beginning with the word “animal”


Now, write a poem in which you describe what your own self-portrait looks like. Include items from the list above & place them somewhere on your body. (Ex: and there, just below the cheekbone, rests the first person i loved, an unforgiving mound of earth.)

What are you wearing in your self-portrait? Why that particular item of clothing? Think about your experiences with love, loss, laughter, and desires. Perhaps include the names of your favorite books or authors, your skills/talents, your dreams for the future, and/or stories you were told as a child. The possibilities are endless. Try to answer the question, What has shaped you? Illuminate that photo.

17/30 Writing Prompt

Write a poem that begins with the first line, “In the beginning…”. Use as many of the following words as possible: gold, transparent, fizz, shape, free, gush, static, bright, clean, rough, precious.

16/30 Writing Prompt: List Poem

Write a poem in which you list all the things you have ever lost in a certain place (ex: your room, house, school, job, your heart, etc.) or while performing a certain activity (ex: any method of transportation, loving someone, remembering yourself, etc.). End the poem by writing about one thing you have kept, in spite of it all.

14/30 Writing Prompt

Write a poem that begins with the phrase, “I lived in this house with you…”