Welcome to the Langston Hughes School for Poets. This page offers writing prompts for poets of every age and experience. If you write something, prompted by this page, that you especially like, let me know via email at

Prompts for May, 2022

  1. In a twenty-line poem, recall a time you started over.
  2. Explore the color “green.”
  3. Consider the positives and negatives of rain.

Prompts for January, 2022

  1. Recall a time you looked forward to an event. Compose a ten to twenty line poem describing that experience.
  2. Imagine one event you hope happens in 2022. Write about it in the present tense, as if it is taking place now.
  3. Reach back into 2021 and imagine changing one event that took place. The event can be in your own life or on the world stage. Change one moment.

Prompts for December, 2021

  1. Recall a good (or difficult) holiday memory and explore it in a poem.
  2. Begin a poem with the first line of a favorite Christmas carol / holiday song and see where it goes.
  3. Look back over the last year and write a poem, in letter form, to 2021. What do you have to say to the past year?

Prompts for November, 2021

  1. Write a poem, in list form, exploring ten people/moments/places for which you feel grateful.
  2. Write a 15 line poem thanking a poem you have loved.
  3. Write a poem about a Thanksgiving Day in the past and then re-write it backward.

Prompts for October, 2021

  1. Write a praise poem about a word you love.
  2. Write an elegy for a word you think ought to go away.
  3. Write a poem exploring the words on street signs. (Stop, Yield, Work Zone Ahead)

Prompts for August, 2021:

  1. Explore a photograph that is meaningful to you. In a poem, describe it, take the reader inside it, let the photograph speak in some way.
  2. In a poem of 15-20 lines, speak directly to rain, summer, the night sky.
  3. In a poem, give your reader directions to a change the world needs.

Prompts for July, 2021:

  1. Think of a moment you experienced full, complete joy. Describe how it felt in your body. What caused it? How long did the experience last? How did it fade or change, if it did?
  2. In 4 lines, with no more than 4 words per line, describe one growing plant.
  3. Build a 10-12 line poem around one phrase you have heard on public transportation.

Prompts for June, 2021:

  1. Think of a favorite song from your childhood. Write a poem about what the song means to you, using lines from the song spread throughout your poem. Aim for 20-25 lines.
  2. Look at the front page of a newspaper, online, in Cape Town, South Africa, Kingston, Jamaica, or Tokyo, Japan and write a 15-20 line poem about what you see on the front page.
  3. Explore your experience of hot weather. Do you love it? Hate it? Feel a mix of emotions about it? Explore that.

Prompts for May, 2021:

  1. Think of a sporting event you love: an NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Imagine thirty seconds of that game and try to share that with a reader in a 20-30 line poem. You could also use thirty seconds from a baseball, football, or soccer game. Try to capture the colors, sounds, and textures.
  2. Show an example of gratitude in a short poem. Try to capture the example in less than 10 lines.
  3. Think of a person you want to tell off. Write a rant of 20-25 lines. Use colors and details to voice your anger but do not use profanity and do not belittle the person at home you are angry.
  4. Remember a favorite pet in a 10 line poem.

Prompts for April, 2021:

  1. In a 20-25 line poem, consider one lesson you have learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. Show us, with details, what you’ve learned.
  2. Pick one moment, perhaps a 60-second moment, and immerse your reader into it. What happens? What sounds, tastes, smells, textures, or sights come to you in this moment?
  3. Describe a person you admire. Show us the person with details and show us the person acting in the way you find admirable.
  4. Describe a piece of music that “gets you through.” Use as many details as you can.

Langston Hughes mural, 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

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