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  • Christine Delea

Go Negative: Poetry Prompt

For this week's prompt, I'd like you to write a negative poem.


I am not talking about the speaker's attitude, necessarily: the tone, subject, and theme of your poem does not have to be negative. This exercise is more concerned with diction.


Below are some ideas for how to approach this prompt.


You can:

stress what not to do, who not to speak with, where not to go, etc.

write a poem in which the speaker gives advice in the negative.

start with a negative first line and stay negative, then veer from the negative

using “but” as a connection and turn positive

place just one negative at the poem’s end, negating everything else in the poem

write a poem with all negatives, except the last line

argue against a well-known axiom

or do something else!


As always, remember

these are just first drafts don’t revise and edit now—just write

feel free to veer off the prompt if you have something good going

when I use “you” in a prompt, I don’t mean that your poem needs to be true,

factual, or from your life. It can be, but feel free to use imagination. The truths in

poetry are not in facts!






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