How about a prompt?

Hi everyone,

I haven’t suggested a prompt lately other than W.O.M. Recently I’ve been talking to teachers about challenging their kids to write poems inspired by a phoneme, such as a vowel, consonant, consonant blend, or digraph. Quick definition. In a consonant blend, two consonants are paired together but we can still hear both sounds, as in bl. A digraph produces a new sound, as in sh.

I wrote 96 poems inspired by phonemes for the five book series, LEARNING THROUGH POETRY, co-written with Mary Jo Fresch, published by Shell Education. My challenge in every case was to start with a subject sound and create a poem that emphasized the sound as many times as I could. The point was to help young children make the association between what they hear and what they see on paper.

For example, when I began with the short A sound in ANK, this was the eventual result.

Need a Bigger Tank
By David L. Harrison

I put two guppies
in my tank.

One was Bob.
One was Frank.

One of them played
a little prank.

Bob’s a girl
or else it’s Frank.

© 2013 Shell Education, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of David L. Harrison

And here’s what happened when I started playing with Y, which can be either a consonant or a vowel.

Yellow Y
By David L. Harrison

A yak walked into a yoyo store
And yelled, “I want a yoyo!”

“Why do you want a yoyo, Yak?”
Yelled back the yoyo fellow.

”A yoyo’s yummy!” yelled the yak,
“But only if it’s yellow.
Blue ones make my tummy hurt,
Oh yes, they make me bellow.”

And then he gulped a yellow yoyo.
“Yuck!” yelled the fellow.

© 2013 Shell Education, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of David L. Harrison

Here’s Mary Jo and her grandson Nicholas having fun with Yellow Y.

So here’s your prompt. Write a poem, repeating the sound as many times as you can, beginning with the consonant blend CR. I hope you have fun with it.

13 comments on “How about a prompt?


    Crazy prompt,
    my fellow poet.
    I’ll be cracked
    before you know it.

    Cripes! I’m crippled
    by the thought.
    Acres of ideas?
    I’ve got naught.

    Thought I’d cruise
    through this tonight,
    Accruing poems
    both left and right.

    But my great hopes
    are crushed you see.
    My ego crippled

    I blame you,
    you crafty friend.
    Your cruelty
    just has no end.

    © 2015 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. I love this video of Nicholas…such a real response to a fun poem! What I didn’t capture on the video was his request to “do another one!” We had fun going through that book reading poems together.

      • Me too! I sent the link so Nicholas could see himself “on the internet.” He watched it 10 times and they all laughed out loud too. So much fun. Thanks for posting.

  3. “Croissants & Crackers”

    Whenever Christie Crandall croons
    about her love of crab rangoons,
    croutons, cream, and crêpes suzettes
    (as well as creamy vinaigrettes),
    I get a craving deep inside
    for tart cranberries, fresh or dried.
    I guess that’s why we’re such good friends:
    we both go crazy for consonant blends.

    – © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine

  4. The Crappy Crooners

    Those “Crappy Crooners” seldom try
    to croon or to create.
    Yet question why their crappy crew
    just can’t collaborate.

    Whenever critics criticize
    the crappy crooners cringe.
    They know it’s cruel and cringe worthy
    when critics start to binge.

    The cronies of the crooners
    are crappy just the same.
    I cringe to watch them crash and burn
    but blame it on their name.

    © 2015 Ken Slesarik

    • Ken, my friend, if humor could be patented, you would make a fortune. Thanks for adding your droll offering to the fun.

  5. David, this has been echoing around in my brain since you issued the challenge.


    Craig, a crispy cracker
    drops cream cheese
    wherever he goes
    on the crest of your cranium
    to the crimp in your toes.

    • Hi Joy! Thank you for MESSY CRACKERS. I’m enjoying the results of this prompt. So many ideas from one basic unit of sound. And I’m delighted to hear from you, Ken, and Matt, all of whom I met at Honesdale poetry workshops.

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