Here is a selection of poems and essays I use frequently as prompts in my writing workshops—see where they inspire you to go in your next piece.

Writing about the Body

“The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee

“This Old Man” by Roger Angell. The New Yorker. February 17, 2014.

“After Striking a Fixed Object” by Latoya Jordan. The Manifest-Station. July 22, 2015

“Homage to my Hips” by Lucille Clifton

“Living in the Body” by Joyce Sutphen. From Straight out of View. Boston: Beacon

Press, 1995


Baggage: What we carry/collect, literally and metaphorically

The first chapter of The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. New York: Mariner, 2009

The opening page of White Noise by Don Delillo. New York: Penguin Classics: Reprint

Edition, 2016


On loss

“When Things Go Missing” by Kathryn Schulz. The New Yorker. February 13, 2017


On scent memory

“Lavender” by Andre Aciman. From Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere. Farrar, Straus and Giroux,



On color memory

“Rhapsody in Green” by Marjorie Sandor. The Georgia Review


On alcoholism/addiction

“Under the Influence” by Scott Russell Sanders. Harpers. November, 1989


On violence/loss

“The Fourth State of Matter by Jo Ann Beard. The New Yorker. June 24, 1996


On asking questions

“Answers” by Mark Strand. From “Elegy for my Father.” Excerpted from New Selected

Poems, 2009. Also at


On the heart and metaphor

“Heart” by Dorianne Laux


Writing letters

“A letter to…My wonderful mother, who drank herself to death” by Anonymous. The

Guardian. March 11, 2017


On place of origin

“Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon


On resilience

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou


Acquired Wisdom

“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith. From Waxwing magazine. Issue IX, Summer 2016

“What I’ve Learned” by Aja Monet


Writing from a photograph

Fifth Grade Autobiography” by Rita Dove. From Grace Notes. W.W. Norton, 1989


Close observation

“The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

“The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf

“The Death of the Moth” by Annie Dillard


Weaving the personal with the factual: Creative Non-Fiction

“Methods” by Meehan Crist. Tin House. Issue 71; June 7, 2017


Describing an Action

Pages 74-75 of Motherhood Exaggerated by Judith Hannan. New Jersey: CavanKerry

Press, 2012 (A description of the steps involved in cleaning the site of a central IV line)


On being a caregiver

“The Lake of Suffering” by Roger Rosenblatt. From Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love,

   Grief, and Small Boats. Ecco, 2012


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