Poetry Prompt: Family Traditions

Poetry Prompt: Family Traditions

Does your family celebrate any special traditions? Do you hide your shoes on New Year’s Eve or make flower crowns on May Day? Maybe you celebrate Daylight Savings Time by illustrating pictures of clocks, or perhaps you participate in a polar bear swim in your local lake during the winter. Whatever your traditions may be, channel them today into some poetry!

Family traditions are often deeply woven into your cultural or family history, and they can be close to the heart and carry a lot of meaning. There may be a favorite food you always serve on a particular holiday or a song that your family traditionally sings at a certain time of year. When you hear that sound or taste that food, it brings you right back to your tradition!

If you don’t know the reason why your family has a tradition, why not ask and see what history you can discover? Maybe you’ll learn that your great-grandmother loved cornbread so much that she always served it on Christmas Eve. Perhaps one of your ancestors brought a tradition from their homeland, then adapted it along the way until it reached you today. Who knows what you may find out!

Pick one family tradition, holiday, or special meal that you love to celebrate. Think what happens when you celebrate that tradition. Who’s there? What do you do? Then think about the sensory details: what does the celebration taste like? Smell like? Look like? Collect as many specific details as you can.

Before you start writing, think about what makes this tradition special to you. How does it make you feel? Does it bring your family together and fill the house with laughter? Maybe it makes you a bit stressed, but you enjoy it anyway. Keep those feelings close to you as you begin.

Time to Write

Write your poem so that it tells the story of your celebration. To write a poem that’s also a story, describe the beginning, middle, and end of your celebration. What’s the very first thing that happens (waking up on Christmas morning or picking up the first fallen apple from under the tree)? Try using the first person voice (“I/me”) to describe yourself as you celebrate. What are you feeling, smelling, or tasting? How do you end the tradition and how do you feel after it ends?

Since family traditions are close to our heart, they can often lead to some powerful and emotional poetry. Learn how to make your poetry even stronger with these revision tips from Poetry Teatime.


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