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The Line Between


This prompt was introduced to be me by friend and all around awesome writer and writing teacher Abby Thomas. She has shared this prompt at a couple of Morehead Writing Project events (Spring 2016 Writing Retreat and 2016 Online Summer Institute) and I have heard some amazing work resulting from this idea.

She began by introducing us to Howard Nemerov’s poem “Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry.”

Abby’s prompt:

I adore how beautifully and eloquently this poem captures the subtle difference between prose and poetry. This poem lingered in my head long after I read it the first time, as I considered how many times I’ve tried to explain the various blurred lines in my life (and totally not the Robin Thicke creepy, non-consensual kind of blurred line). For me there exists so many hard-to-define lines in parenting, education, religion, relationships, writing, politics, words – heck, grocery shopping has turned into all-day riddle of trying to sort through organic, free range, non-GMO labels when all I want is some delicious cereal!

So I think this poem makes for a great writing prompt because it can stir up so many ideas. Here are a couple of writing starts to you can choose from:

1. Steal the line “Because you asked about the line between and _.” Write (any genre) about the line between two elements that are sometimes hard to explain.

2. Imitate the poem in style and use imagery to create a vivid explanation of the line between two elements of your choosing.

Now give this prompt a try and #JustWrite about the line that is teasing your imagination or keeping you up at night!


I am a writer and a teacher of writers. I am also a fangirl for a wide range of awesome stories.