Monday, 13 April 2020

We’re in the home stretch, Poets! It’s Day 23 of our #WaterPoemProject — 30 days of water-themed poetry prompts from your favorite children’s authors.

If you’re looking for National Poetry Month writing prompts, we’ve got you covered. Start with Day 1 and you’ll have poetry prompts from now through the end of April.

New to this project? Please read the Introduction and FAQ. Or you can watch this video of me describing how to participate. It’s on the YouTube channel Authors Everywhere.

QUICK ASIDE! Tomorrow, April 14, is an exciting day. My middle grade novel of friendship, girl power, and wrestling, Takedown, is out in paperback! Look for a special book giveaway on Twitter and Instagram. (Some winners will receive a special prize — a cute Beagle dog plushie — with their signed book.)


Middle grade verse novelist Beth Ain is the author of today’s writing prompt.

Beth’s prompt is: Water with Salt

Beth Ain

This week is the Jewish holiday of Passover. For me, that brings up a lot of sensory memories. The smell of my grandmother’s brisket in the oven, the whooshing and gasping sounds as my baby cousin dumped the giant fruit bowl all over his mother’s lap as we huddled under the table during an endless Seder way back when I was a kid.

But also, the little dish of salt water at everyone’s place setting, that is meant to signify the tears of enslavement, but which also signifies a cleansing in time for Spring, in time to start fresh.

Poetry for me has always been about the small moments of life, which is why I used free verse to tell the story of Izzy’s life in Izzy Kline Has Butterflies—for her, small moments coincide with having butterflies in her belly, so I developed a little writing project called Butterfly Moments. Life really does happens in butterfly moments of all kinds!

So, “water with salt” can mean that little cup you dip your parsley into when you sit around your family Seder table, or it can mean the tear drops you have shed for something small—missing your favorite teacher or your favorite friend because we are sheltering in place in order to keep everyone safe—or, something big—which, for me are the salty tears I shed this year on Passover, my first without my mom.

Small moments writing is really just about boiling big moments down to their essence. Try to find a tiny little moment where you were purified by the salty water of the ocean or your own salty tears and write about the feelings that brought up for you. Did you taste the tears on your lips? Did that saltwater ocean sting your sunburn and make you red with rage? Did it wash away your sandcastle? Did those tears wash away a bad day, a bad grade, an argument with your sibling?

You can print out a butterfly moment worksheet here ( on my website if you want to fill it up with salty feelings or memories and then make something out of them, a small moment poem—in this way, poetry makes something new out of something old, cleansing us, like the water with salt.


Today, I am thinking of a student whose happy memory of winning a contest has turned salty because the recognition ceremony won’t be happening. What does Beth’s “Water with Salt” prompt conjure up for you? Draft your poem by the end of the day tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

If you’re doing the #WaterPoemProject with a group, be sure to share or post your rough draft, read other people’s poems, and cheer for their efforts. Or leave your poem here, in the comments.

Beth Ain is the author of the Starring Jules chapter book series (Scholastic) as well as two middle grade novels-in-verse, Izzy Kline Has Butterflies and The Cure for Cold Feet (Random House). She is happy to shelter in place as long as she has her kids, her husband, her dog, and a little corner of the dining room table where she can write. Find her at


#WaterPoemProject Series Posts:

Project Introduction
Prompt 1: Irene Latham, The Language of Water
Prompt 2: Elizabeth Steinglass, What Would a Raindrop Say?
Prompt 3: Linda Mitchell, Found Haiku
Prompt 4: Shari Green, Fogbow Fibonacci
Prompt 5: Margaret Simon, The Taste of Water
Prompt 6: Heather Meloche, The Shape of a Wave
Prompt 7: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, A Water Memory
Prompt 8: Laura Shovan, Rainy Day Opposites
Prompt 9: Kathryn Apel, Silly Solage
Prompt 10: Buffy Silverman, A Watery Home
Prompt 11: Kara Laughlin, Frozen Fog
Prompt 12: Debbie Levy, Jump into a Limerick
Prompt 13: Joy McCullough, What Are Water Bears?
Prompt 14: Linda Baie, Frozen Water Skinny
Prompt 15: Chris Baron, The Hidden World of Water
Prompt 16: Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Water Wordplay
Prompt 17: Susan Tan, The Sound of Water
Prompt 18: Mike Grosso, Waterplay!
Prompt 19: R. L. Toalson, Wishing Well
Prompt 20: Margarita Engle, Ode to the Shore
Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble
Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising Connections
Prompt 23: Beth Ain, Water with Salt

Please support the #WaterPoemProject authors by buying their books from your favorite independent bookstore.

3 responses to “#WaterPoemProject: Day 23, Beth Ain”

  1. […] process: Today’s post was inspired by Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Project. Guest poster Meg Eden challenged writers to write a poem based on surprise connections. Meg […]

  2. This exercise brought forth another memory of the flood when I was a teenager. I think this is a haibun form.

    Because Jesus was Jewish, the Episcopal priest decided to have a traditional Seder on the Saturday night before Easter. The Saturday our house was engulfed in flood waters. The Saturday we were homeless. I dipped parsley into salt water and let the pungent taste coat my tongue like the tears I held inside.

    Parsley prickles flesh
    salting my mouth with its tears
    empathic weeping

  3. […] to the Shore Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising Connections Prompt 23: Beth Ain, Water with Salt Prompt 24: Kevin Hodgson, A Poem about Peepers Prompt 25: Laura Purdie Salas, Be a Snow-Maker! […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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