Writing Prompt Revisited, The Art of the Interview, and the City of Sarajevo

       Sometimes finding the right prompt can allow a poet to write a poem that never would have entered the world without the constraints of form. I've noticed recently that many of my poems from my time in Bosnia are ghazals or villanelles. Sometimes restraint works to compress the language and allows for lyric surprises.

    Here's a writing prompt on the art of the interview (also a form)  that was published on Midge Raymond's Seattle PI blog, Writers Block, a few years ago. I created this during the time I was a curator for the Jack Straw Writers Program and needed to conduct interviews with each of the 12 writers for the program's podcast series. Is conducting an interview a legitimate prompt?

     Actually, it's more than a prompt. It's a way of learning compassion. As a writer, if you spend hours with someone and listen to her story, it stays with you. Active listening allows for the creation of a better poem and perhaps a better person as well.

    As a poet, I think it's a way to steal some of the tools of the journalist or the fiction writer. And I'm all for stealing --- in the literary sense.

Sarajevo - old city


  1. Wonderful prompt. Beautiful poem.

  2. Thank you, Maureen! I'm so glad you like it. Maybe one day I will do a book of prompts -- it seems to be the thing these days!


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