It’s Day 29 of our #WaterPoemProject — 30 days of water-themed poetry prompts from your favorite children’s authors. We are down to the last two days of our project.

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.

Joining us from April-snowy Boston, middle grade author Lee Gjertsen Malone has a great water-themed writing prompt for us today.

Lee’s prompt is: Dirty Water

Lee Gjertsen Malone

My adopted home of Boston is associated with the song “Dirty Water” by the Standells, released in 1966.

The song is about the Charles River, which at the time was very polluted. But it’s not anymore — it’s a river that people swim and boat in, without worry.

When I think about the Charles River I think about a body of water that has worked hard to be clean. But dirt and cleanliness is all tied up with water, and here in Boston, it’s about this river. And this song is about loving a place that isn’t perfect, and maybe isn’t always clean, but it’s home.

“Because I love that dirty water… oh Boston you’re my home.”

Write about about how dirt and cleanliness are all tied up with water.

We’re down to the last two writing prompts, poets! There are so many things you can do with Lee’s prompt today: write an opposites poem, explore pollution, create an ode to a river where you live. You’ve got until the end of the day tomorrow, Monday, April 20, 2020, to draft a new poem.

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.

Lee Gjertsen Malone is the author of two novels for children published by Simon & Schuster, THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH’S,  a Nutmeg Award Finalist, a Sakura Medal finalist, and a Massachusetts Center for the Book Must Read, and CAMP SHADY CROOK, a Junior Library Guild selection. She lives in Cambridge Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and a rotating cast of animals. Find her online 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
Prompt 24: Kevin Hodgson, A Poem about Peepers
Prompt 25: Laura Purdie Salas, Be a Snow-Maker!
Prompt 26: Amanda Rawson Hill, Where Does Water Come From?
Prompt 27: Nikki Grimes, Word? Play!
Prompt 28: Heidi Mordhorst, Try a Definito!
Prompt 29: Lee Gjertsen Malone, Dirty Water

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

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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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