Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like The Color of Pomegranates and “City That Does Not Sleep,” incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.


Always, always I am falling

in a deep abyss

in slowest of slow motion

flailing arms and silent screams

I wake up sweating

heart pounding loud

snakes of suspicion slithering

up my chest choking the chipmunks

in my brain always,

always I slide back into the partisan dream

showing sepia-toned snapshots of swirling snowflakes

transforming into ugly beasts

exhorting me to finish my exam

and I realise with a start

I submitted an empty sheet.


As usual

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that “talks.” Try to write a poem grounded in language as it is spoken – not necessarily the grand, dramatic speech of a monologue or play, but the messy, fractured, slangy way people speak in real life.

As usual

So what’s happening he asks as usual

oh the usual I reply

the next door neighbours have

gone for a vacation

the guy across us is getting

married next month

the hoopla around his blonde fiancee

is driving me crazy

I prattle on and all I can hear

in response as usual is uhhs and oh yeahs

typical of him

starts a conversation but never listens

so I ask him how’s he doing

was he having eggs regularly for breakfast

and had he taken his medication

as usual instead of answering me

he disarms me by saying

he is longing to be home.

To my alma mater

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. You could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or you could write one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet.

To my alma mater

Alma mater to a humongous motley bunch

Binding us in ties that mean so much

Childhood to teenage spent under its tutelage

Dear to its alumni, even in dotage

Excellence was not the only virtue eschewed

Failures, we were taught, resolve imbued

Goals that were set for us,

Heightened the feeling of self worth in us

Kaleidoscope of emotions are memories of school

Latitude that we were given, made us cool!

Making us all humble and kind

Nurturing always our soul and mind

Outstanding social service in which we participated

Pulsating parties were the most anticipated

Queering the pitch was the school playing ground

Rightly providing a level platform

Synergy we created, was unbeatable

Team work, our hallmark, still unmatchable

Universal experience for one and all

Vignettes of school life fondest of all

Worthwhile has been this wonderful ride

Xaverians we call ourselves with utmost pride

Yearning for the time when we were kids

Zeitgeist of school time this poem is.

(I am in a bit of a rush today as I am meeting a bunch of school friends after ages. So, what better than a reworked poem about our school!)


Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. This may not be a “fun” prompt, but loss is one of the most universal and human experiences, and some of the world’s most moving art is an effort to understand and deal with it.


I murmur the incantations automatically

along with the priest

taught by the man encased in white

women are not allowed to light funeral pyres

I hold my head high as I break another tradition

for the iconoclast who never toed meaningless rules

the acrid smoke of burning wood stings my eyes

tears of sorrow mingle with those of pain

the sweet smell of ghee and incense assail my nose

I remember all those sacrificial offerings he had conducted

the emptiness within will never be filled

but I can feel his hand on my head

as I prepare to step into future with only his memories.