Abstract Poetry Paint Chip Prompt

It’s a new year and a new generation of paint chip poetry prompts. I finally decided, just in time, what I was going to do differently this year for these prompts. Each week we will continue to have seven paint chip words and phrases to work with. (There are actually 41 brand new ones that weren’t used last year. When they are gone, I’ll shuffle them all for a brand new configuration each week.)

Then I’ll pull out my handy dandy copy of the poetry dictionary, second edition, by John Drury. Rather than randomly selecting an entry, I’m going to hand pick a poetry form, style, device, or term from the pages of this resource and challenge you to write your poem based on that form, style, device, or term. I was inspired by the fact that a few of you wrote a triolet last week and thought you all might enjoy this new style of poetry prompt.

This Week’s Challenge

This week we are writing “Abstract Poetry,” defined by Drury as:

Poetry that aims to use its sounds, textures, rhythms, and rhymes to convey an emotion instead of relying on the meanings of words.

Edith Sitwell coined the term, and poems in her Façade exemplify it. Abstract poetry does not represent any particular object or focus on any definite subject. Instead, it proceeds in the way an abstract painter paints, creating not portraits or landscapes but arrangements of pigments, blocks of color, slashes and swirls of paint. Abstract poetry aspires to be similarly norepresentational.

the poetry dictionary, page 3.

Examples that Drury offers the poet are “Soul Says” by Jorie Graham and “The Descent” by William Carlos Williams, as well as the poetry of John Ashbery.

The paint chip words and phrases we have to work with are snow day, safety orange, campfire, seedling, raven, mud, and shadow.

I would like you to use all seven words and phrases as you abstractly paint with these very fall and winter colors.

My Poem

This one is a challenge for me, which makes it all the more fun. I tend to write fairly concrete poetry, but hopefully this one fits the abstract bill.

Love and Loss and Love Again

A heart as warm as a blazing
campfire, becomes embers glowing
covered in gray, barely showing.

Flurries of a snowy day swirl
and whirl, fall upon the coals,
now damp and cold and dead.

A raven hiding in shadows
beckons kith and kin exposed, 
with high-pitched gurgling croak.

Weather warms, rains flood,
seedling sprouts in safety of
orange-no-more ash and mud.

A heart as warm as a blazing
campfire, flames from embers glowing.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to write some abstract poetry. With the exception of safety orange, I found these words and phrases quite easy to connect when thinking abstractly. I hope you do too.

Once you’ve written your poem, you can either post it in the comments below, or post it on your own blog or website and share a link in the comments. Be sure to include a link back here in your post so others can find the prompt and join the fun.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


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