Poetry Prompt: “Deep, deep…” an iambic pentameter poetry prompt

You may recall that I spent a week at a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop back in October with Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia heard, and a wonderful crew of writers yearning to learn more about children’s poetry. During that week, attendees were given a variety of poetry prompts to fire up our brains and imaginations, including Popsicle sticks, paint swatches, and poetic forms like concrete poetry and iambic pentameter.

The latter is where this week’s poem comes from!

One day we were discussing iambic pentameter, a meter with which I’ve become very comfortable writing since I discovered it in high school English class. Rebecca and Georgia suggested we take a 35-40 minute break to get some fresh air outside…and find something to write about, in iambic pentameter. (For a brief overview of this type of meter, click here)

We were tasked with writing a couplet – but when I saw the large stone wall outside the main building (The Barn, as they call it), I didn’t feel a couplet would be quite enough to do it justice. So I just started writing – and by the time we were called to share our work, I had completed eight lines. As with most poetry prompts, it’s neither polished nor perfect…but I’m sharing it because, as I’ve said here before, all poetry needs to start from somewhere, and the important thing about writing is that you DO IT. Remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

(click to enlarge)

I spiffed it up a bit with a photo of a stone wall on my own property, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is much more that I could do with this poem to improve it (edit some words out, add more internal rhyme, etc.), but for what it is, I like it, and will probably not be tackling any revisions anytime soon.

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head on over to Carol’s Corner for the complete Poetry Friday roundup and a review of K.A. Holt’s Knockout (Chronicle, 2018)!


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15 thoughts on “Poetry Prompt: “Deep, deep…” an iambic pentameter poetry prompt

  1. lindabaie

    Love that you wrote about that wall, a favorite place to sit and just “be”, and love “a path of age”, Matt. I like reading it aloud, too. Well done on the rhythm!


  2. margaretsmn

    I love your poem just the way it is. For me, iambic pentameter has been a challenge. It must become more natural with more practice. “I stopped to look” is Mary Oliver/ Robert Frost-esque. You inspire me.


  3. carwilc

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried iambic pentameter, in fact I’m pretty sure I haven’t. It sounds hard! I love the phrase “path of age.” And I love your mantra! Perfect!


    1. Thank you! Iambic pentameter isn’t as hard as a lot of folks think it is…once you understand it. An iamb is simply a poetic “foot” – that is, a measurement of lines – consisting of one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable. A phrase I often use when teaching poetry is, “reduce, reuse, recycle, then repeat.” Written with 5 iambs, the line is iambic pentameter (meaning 5 iambs). Likewise, the Gilligan’s Island theme starts off in iambic tetrameter (4 iambs): “Come sit right down, you’ll hear a tale…” Try it sometime, you might surprise yourself!


  4. Pingback: Poetry Friday: A look back at a Highlights workshop poem, “The Apple Tree” – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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