Weekly Prompt: “Questions Without Answers”

This week’s prompt is adapted from a writing exercise in Poetry Everywhere: Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community (T&W Collaborative, 2005), a writing handbook now on sale on the Teachers & Writers Collaborative website.

Poetry Everywhere by Jack Collum and Sheryl Noethe
Poetry Everywhere by Jack Collum and Sheryl Noethe

What happens when we die?  Where do noises go?  How far is far?  These types of questions without answers are the focus of today’s writing prompt.  According to Collum and Noethe, an unanswerable question is one that causes the mind to “kee[p] on seeking.” Don’t lose sight of this objective!  Allow each question to lead to the next without bothering to consider an answer.  Resist the impulse to know it all.

As it may take a while to get your mind into “seeking” mode, begin with a few practice questions.  Let your thoughts wander.  Stare out the window…  Where do birds sleep at night?  How do they recognize their family members?  Do baby birds ever find their fathers?  Would they want to?  How tall do pine trees grow?  How long would it take for one to grow into outer space?  Unfetter your mind: no question is too whimsical for this exercise.

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Editors’ Picks: Teachers & Writers Collaborative Book Sale!

Teachers & Writers Collaborative book sale!
Teachers & Writers Collaborative book sale!

The Teachers & Writers Collaborative is having a book sale!  If you teach English, writing composition, creative writing, anything… these handbooks are a tremendous resource.

The T&W titles on my shelf are: Poetry Everywhere and The List Poem, though I can vouch for numerous others (Listener in the SnowHandbook of Poetic Forms, etc. ) as well.  I’ve found these books to be useful not only in leading poetry workshops, but in teaching middle school writing composition, and even elementary school grammar!  The prompts are wonderfully versatile, and can be adapted for writers of any age.

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