2016 Found Object Poem Project: Week 1 Prompts

Hello, friends!

Think of today as the pre-game stretch. We are getting our fingers warmed up for 29 days of writing in response to found objects and posting that writing the same day, as a community.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this post to find out more about my annual daily writing project. Over a dozen authors gather every February to write in response to a daily prompt. In the past, we have written a month of Pantone poems and a month of responses to sound clips. This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. Several friends have sent in images of objects that we will be using as our daily inspiration.

So … how does a person participate?

Leave your writing in the blog comments (feel free to post a poem or response in the comments of any project-related post). Be sure to note which day/prompt your poem or prose short goes with so I can post it on the correct day. Send in your writing ANY TIME — early, late. As long as I receive it by February 29, it will be posted along with the object of the day.

Perfect attendance is not a requirement of this project. Write and share your work as often as you like, even if it’s only once. The goal is to practice and share, not to polish, and certainly not to aim for perfection.

I know you want to see the Week 1 prompts, but be sure to read my pep talk at the bottom of this post.

Reminder: I will not be posting any information about the objects at this time. This year, we are emphasizing using all five senses in our imagery, whether we write poems or prose in response to the objects.

100 year old wooden mailing box RHB

DAY 1 PROMPT Contributed by Robyn Hood Black (February 1)


DAY 2 PROMPT Contributed by Mary Lee Hahn (February 2)

2013-06-13 15.12.25

DAY 3 PROMPT Contributed by Laura Shovan (February 3)


DAY 4 PROMPT Contributed by Charles Waters (February 4)

Tomato Moon

DAY 5 PROMPT Contributed by Matt Forrest Esenwine (February 5)

2013-07-16 09.33.36 (1)

DAY 6 PROMPT Contributed by Laura Shovan (February 6)


DAY 7 PROMPT Contributed by Jone MacCulloch (February 7)


Thanks for sticking with your coach instead of diving onto writing field with your prompts, everyone. Here are two examples of FOUND OBJECT writing to help you get your head in the game.

First up is an old poem of mine, written in response to found objects: a group of children’s winter coats slung over a playground fence. Enjoy these two readings. I’ll see you on Monday!

In Early Spring
by Laura Shovan

When color still arrests the eye,
a row of children’s winter coats
slung over the playground fence.

Bright as tulips, pairs of empty arms hang down.
They reach for earth, asking.

Each hood bows — a line of prayer.
But the children?
scattered like the milkweed to come,


From Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone

And Poetry Friday regular Jessica Bigi sent me a story to inspire you. She writes, “Sadly, I do not have a pic to go with this, but it was inspired by a little child’s dragon hat that I saw at a yard sale.”

The Boy with the Dragon Hat
by Jessica Bigi

On a small farm on the outskirts of a Chinese village, lived a boy named Soso. Soso lived with his grandmother and would often help her gather eggs from the chickens. He helped her sell them on market day. Sometimes, Soso’s grandmother would pay him 50 yuan for helping. Though that might not seem like a lot of money, to Soso it was. He knew his grandmother did not have much money and when she gave him some he always put it in a jar until he saved up enough to buy himself something that he might like to have from the market. He would often take a break from selling eggs and walk around to see what the other villagers were selling. Some sold jars of honey, some sold vegetables, some sold bright pieces of cloth.

Then there was the dragon lady. She was one of the oldest, wisest women in the village. She sold dragons. And for every dragon she sold she told a story of wisdom to go with it. Soso loved stopping by her stand. The dragons were too expensive for him but he loved to hear the stories.

“Soso, you are a boy of great courage,” she would often tell him. “Someday you will save enough yuan to buy a dragon from me and then I will have a story for you.” Soso could hardly wait for that day so he kept saving his yuan from selling eggs.

One day, when he went to her stand he could hardly believe his eyes. “That’s it,” he said. “That is the dragon for me.” It was a hat that looked like a dragon’s head. “Dragon lady” he said, “how much is that hat?”

“Oh” she said, “Soso, that is a very special hat to be worn by a very special person. You must have courage to wear that hat. You must be strong and wise, for it is a knight’s hat.”

“I am all of those things. Dragon lady,” Soso said, “I have 10 yuan saved. Would that be enough to buy that hat?”

“Soso” she said, “first, you must do something kind for someone else. I will save the hat for you until you do so.”

As Soso walked back to the egg stand, he saw his grandmother looking at a sand sculpture at the trinket stand. She did not see him but he watched as she walked away. He thought about what the dragon lady said, walked over to the trinket stand, and said, “Miss, that lady that was just here was my grandmother. I was wondering what it was that she was looking at.”

She pointed to a sculpture of a sand castle. “This is it, son,” she said. “She told me she wished she owned a castle like this so she wouldn’t have to work so hard.”

“How much is this castle?” Soso asked. “I have 10 yuan. Would that be enough for the castle? I was saving it for myself but I would like for my grandmother to have her castle.”

“I’ll give it to you for 5 yuan,” she said. Soso was so happy that he didn’t notice that the dragon lady had seen what he had done. He went back to his egg stand.

The next day was his day that he didn’t have to go to the market and got to go play with his friends. His grandmother went to the market that day herself and Soso stayed home. On that day, the dragon lady walked over to their stand and said to Soso’s grandmother, “You have a wise grandson.”

Grandmother said, “Thank you, I am very proud of him and he is a good worker.”

Dragon lady said, “I want you to give him this hat. It is a knight’s hat and your grandson is worthy of a knight’s hat.”

“Oh, that is so kind of you,” Grandmother said. “Please, take a dozen of my eggs for your kindness.” That day, Soso’s grandmother went to look at the sand castle but noticed that it was gone from the table. Walking away, she thought about what the dragon lady said about Soso. She thought, “If only I could make our lives easier. I will wait until the weekend to give him his hat,” she said.

The next day, Soso and his grandmother were back at the market. Soso could hardly wait. He went to see the hat at the dragon lady’s stand but it wasn’t there. “I had to sell it to a knight,” she said. “Don’t be sad,” she said. “Someday I will have a story for you.”

Soso walked back to his egg cart. “Tomorrow will be Saturday. I will give grandmother her castle tomorrow.” Saturday morning, Soso and his grandmother gathered eggs from the chickens. While gathering eggs, they both told each other that they had a surprise for each other. Soso said, “Grandmother, I want you to know that you’ve given me the perfect life. I bought this for you, Grandmother.”

“Thank you, Soso,” said grandmother. As she opened it, tears streamed down her face. “It’s my castle” she said.

Soso said, “No, it’s our castle. Our home is our castle and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” For a moment Soso forgot about the dragon lady’s hat.

As grandmother wiped tears from her eyes, she said, “I have something for you also, Soso.” As she handed him the gift, she said “Only a knight can wear this, Soso.”

To Soso, that sounded familiar but he couldn’t remember why. He opened it. “It’s my hat! My dragon hat!” he said.

“The dragon lady gave this to me to give to you. My Soso, my knight, you are the boy with the dragon hat.”

The next week when Soso and his grandmother went to the market, Soso ran to where the dragon lady’s stand was but her stand wasn’t there. Soso looked for her all over the market but never saw the dragon lady again. He remembered her stories and he loved to wear the hat she had given to him. On the walk home that evening he held his grandmother’s hand and told her that he loved her. She smiled and said “My Soso, I love you also.”