Creative Writing Prompt: Sound Your Yawp

Creative Writing Prompt #25
Sound Your Yawp

Earlier today, we introduced you to the barbaric yawp as it’s presented in Dead Poets Society.

In this life-changing film, Professor Keating makes Todd Anderson stand before his classmates and create a poem as he stares at a picture of Walt Whitman. And with his eyes closed, under pressure, and in a situation that makes him more uncomfortable than being in a tank full of snakes, Todd creates incredible lines… without even thinking that hard about it.

For today’s prompt:

  • Find yourself a private place where you feel completely comfortable to be yourself. Or imagine Professor Keating staring at you (see above) with all the confidence and pride in the world. And start writing out loud.
  • Think of Walt Whitman or Robin Williams in any of his roles. Or think of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare play that figures so prominently in Dead Poets Society, or remember an idyllic or even an awkward moment from school… and start talking.
  • Keep that image in your head, close your eyes, turn yourself around, and start speaking aloud whatever comes to your mind. Spout until you can’t spout anymore.
  • Then right yourself, and write down whatever you remember from the lines you spoke out loud. Embellish as you go – no need to remember the words verbatim. Just appreciate the feeling of letting yourself go in the moment.

Important: Make sure there’s a barbaric yawp in your poem! It need not be the word “yawp,” but there should be an exclamation, a revelation of some sort. The turning point in your poem… perhaps in your life thus far.

See all of our National Poetry Month posts


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