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Great First Line!: Poetry Prompt

Steal--and give credit, of course--to another writer!


This poem (essay or piece of fiction) requires an epigraph. That's right--it is absolutely necessary. No cheating.


Your epigraph will be: with a first line from "__________" by ________________. Set it in a bit and italicize. Then start your poem with one of the lines below, or use another one. Using someone else's inspiration is a great way to get inspired, and the variety below should provide something for everyone.


Don’t put your disembodied voice in an envelope (Cathy Appel, Letters)

Time collapses between the lips of strangers (Audre Lorde, Never to Dream of Spiders)

One sound. Then the hiss and whir (Louise Gluck, The Garden)

Wake up, greet the sun, and pray. (Tanaya Winder, Being)

All the new thinking is about loss. (Robert Hass, Meditation at Lagunitas)

Tell me it was for the hunger (Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous)

Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love (Gwendolyn Brooks, A Sunset of

the City)

All birds--even those that do not fly (Sun Yung Shin, Immigrant Song)

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. (Mark Strand, Eating Poetry)

For those who ran in the streets, (Ray Gonzalez, For the Other World)

Love set you going like a fat gold watch. (Sylvia Plath, Morning Song)

If you are like me and can only see the horizon (Victoria Chang, Dear P. [If you are])

Out in this desert we are testing bombs, (Adrienne Rich, Trying to Talk with a Man)

Did your father come home after fighting (Terrance Hayes, For Robert Hayden)

Here they are. The soft eyes open. (James Dickey, The Heaven of Animals)

I like to travel to L.A. by myself (Esther Belin, Night Travel)

For a saving grace, we didn’t see our dead, (Howard Nemerov, The War in the Air)

We shall meet again, in Srinagar, (Agha Shahid Ali, A Pastoral)

The roaring alongside he takes for granted, (Elizabeth Bishop, Sandpiper)

This is not a small voice (Sonia Sanchez, This Is Not a Small Voice)

All Greece hates (H.D., Helen)

I like the lady horses best, (Ada Limón, How to Triumph Like a Girl)

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall (Ezra Pound, The Garden)

because it has no pure products (Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Learning to love America)

There was the method of kneeling, (Naomi Shihab Nye, Different Ways to Pray)

What large, dark hands are those at the window (D.H. Lawrence, Love on the Farm)

Arlene learned to dance backwards in heels that were too high. (Patricia Smith, Siblings)

You come to fetch me from my work tonight (Robert Frost, Putting in the Seed)

Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand. (Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for

Holy Beings)

I like a look of Agony (Emily Dickinson, 241)

In her dark she surveys empty: the vanity (Kimiko Hahn, Alarm)





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