Friday, May 18, 2012

The Value of Writing Prompts: Every Day Poems

By writing much, one learns to write well
- Robert Southey

Though I’m not new to writing, I’ve recently put a timid toe into the foreign water of poetry. Because poems are generally limited to a page, the topics and themes of a “poet” (I use the term loosely when describing myself) vary more frequently than those of a novelist/essayist. Inspiration can be difficult and thought ruts are a daily hazard.

In January I discovered a poetry site called Every Day Poems. The site encourages readers to read and write a poem every day. If you connect to EDPoems on Facebook or Twitter they offer poetry prompts - photos or phrases - to get your creative juices flowing.

Since my discovery of Every Day Poems, I’ve written poems on topics I never would have considered otherwise. A recent prompt was a photo connoting a modern day “Little Red Riding Hood.” As a result, I penned this re-telling of the familiar fable. 

What if the story you've always heard about Little Red Riding Hood wasn't the story at all? What if Little Red went to the woods, not to visit her Grandmother, but to visit a love? What if she went to the woods or vengeance sake, to settle a score with the one who stole the heart of her lover? What if there were two girls in the woods that day, and only one survived. What if there was no wolf at all?

Little Red Retold

No one knows,
but we, the trees
the truth behind the tale

of the fabled one,
with alabaster skin
and a crimson riding cloak

who went to a house,
so deep in a wood
no one should hear a scream

and there saw the girl,
not old, but a girl
who rivaled for the heart

of a woodsman who
heard the screams of the girl
and rushed to see his love

in a blood-red haze,
of life and death
and competing vacant stares.

It was a Grimm tableau,
of horror and hate
that turned into a tale

of a devious wolf
and an innocent girl
who trusted far too much.

For who could know,
but we, the trees
that only a Tell Tale Heart

wears a Scarlet cape,
with a cumbrous hood
into a dangerous wood?

Though no wolf prowled,
we heard the screams
that came from the daggered girl,

not the one with the cape
but the one who was true,
who lived in a treacherous wood

I have no illusions the poem is a masterwork, but the prompt forced me to tackle an unusual subject, which is great practice and essential to good writing.

For a scant $2.99/yr, Every Day Poems delivers sunshine to your inbox each morning and writing prompts that inspire. This small investment pays back in spades. Buy a year of Every Day Poems here:

Full Disclosure™: There may or may not be a coveted chocolate prize for those who participate in their May Theme – Spontaneity.


  1. !!! :) I loved the Full Disclosure at the end, Little Red ;-)

  2. Leah, Are you really writing a poem a day? That's fabulous! (I'm starting to feel inspired...)

    And your full disclosure cracked me up. I'll fight you for the chocolate :)


  3. Oh, your blog is beautiful! I love it, the bare branches covered in snow. So lovely, Leah! I love trees... there is so much poetry in trees.

    Your disclosure made me laugh, too. Don't you think chocolate and poetry go so nicely together?

  4. I love retellings of fairy tales. Endless possibilities!

    Keep up with the poetry. You're doing great!

  5. Tanya McGrath May 18, 2012May 18, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I think you make God smile every time you write a new poem : )

  6. Love the Grimm tableau. :) And this:

    For who could know,
    but we, the trees

    Great stuff, Leah. So glad to have you share!