Daily Writing Prompts

I’m running this project to give myself and you a prompt every day to develop a regular writing practice. These will be mostly thinking about poetry writing but of course, you can use them however you like. The focus will be on taking inspiration from Queer and Feminist history, aiming to include and represent from lots of different places and cultures around the world. To be clear, I don’t mean I’ll be encouraging cultural appropriation, but I will be making sure the prompts don’t assume Whiteness or European-American-ness. I am also really open to anyone using these prompts bringing their own into the mix and adding to the pot – share in the comments if you’d like.

I also invite you to add the ingredient of form to your responses – if I get stuck I find forms with rules can help by giving a kind of scaffold to climb. I do this by rolling a dice and giving each number a corresponding poetic form, eg 1=sonnet, 2=free, 3=terza rima, 4=found, 5=couplets, 6=concrete. If you have other mother tongues that bring their own poetic or lyrical forms, I would love to hear about those and if/how you use them.

Follow the tag #DailyWritingPrompt here to get going – the posts should all show up below. Feel free to share your writing in the comments (bearing in mind some competitions don’t like poems that have appeared online – if you ever want me to take down something you’ve posted, just ask).

A rugged rocky coastline with a grey, overcast but softly beautiful sea gently rolling in against the ragged black edges of rocks.

DWP: September 1

Today is the anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake, which hit Japan in 1923. This day is known as Disaster Prevention Day to commemorate the earthquake and remind people of the importance of preparedness. So today’s prompt is to write about a disaster you have experienced but using a metaphor of natural forces to describe … Continue reading DWP: September 1

Two pages of a notebook - on one side is a lot of space and some abstract marks. On the right side is a paragraph of handwriting.

DWP: August 31

Wow, a lot happened on August 31st historically. We could be inspired today by: Isabella Di Medici, Maria Montessori, Malaysia gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the anniversary of the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales, Mary Ward or Empress Theodora of Byzantium. Please feel free to research and write about/with/from any of these. However, … Continue reading DWP: August 31

It is very dark. In the darkness a slim white figure is hunched overgrasping part of a great swathe of dirty white paper. They seem to be in some kind of industrial space with metal poles, and they are wearing a dirty white nightdress.

DWP: August 29

Today is Diamanda Galás’ birthday. As well as being an extraordinary musician and incredible vocalist, Galás is also a performance artist, painter, and activist – particularly around AIDS campaigning. If you’ve never heard her music, I recommend you go listen to some now. Inspired by her vocalisations, today’s prompt is to think about non-verbal sounds … Continue reading DWP: August 29

A grey stony shore of a stream, with the stream itself running along the lower half of the image. Cutting between shore and water, partially submerged, is a long strip of paper with not-quite-legible writing on it.

DWP: August 28

I’d like to mark that today is the anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder. This isn’t our writing prompt, but if you don’t know about Emmett, please go and find out, and consider donating to BLM, Amnesty or another human rights charity in his memory. Today’s prompt starts with another anniversary of a sudden death – … Continue reading DWP: August 28

A tiny toy polar bear stands on its hind legs in a landscape of dirty white paper, feathers covered in red paint, or blood, stick to it and to the paper around. An arctic wilderness made of scraps and toys.

DWP: August 26

I’ve just read this really insightful and fascinating thread about gender and sexuality in Malaysia and South East Asia, written by Dorian Wilde. There is loads to unpack here about the ways colonialism imposes judgements and erases cultures, so this post is also hopefully an invitation to research and learn as much as it is … Continue reading DWP: August 26

Ess stands on a grassy bank of a stream, wearing a green hoodie, leather jacket, cut-off denim shorts, black leggings and green wellies. They are a white human with short brown curly hair. They are holding both ends of a long strip of white paper or fabric which has caught in the wind and is twisting, looping and blowing away from them to the right, out over the stream.

DWP: August 25

It’s stormy and windy today, so I’m thinking about power – the power of wind and weather is very present and obvious right now, blowing over objects and kicking up the river into waves, shoving the trees around. There are other kinds of power in the environment too – slow erosion, or small green shoots … Continue reading DWP: August 25

A white board with lots of different handwriting sharing the word "friendship" in many languages and alphabets.

DWP: August 24

Today is Marsha P Johnson‘s birthday, and the anniversary of the death of Bayard Rustin. I’m taking inspiration from their work as civil rights activists and LGBTQ+ people who worked, marched and protested for LGBTQ+ rights and for black people’s rights. Today’s prompt is to write your protest – maybe it’s a speech that you … Continue reading DWP: August 24

A blue wall completely plastered in brightly coloured post-it notes all covered in handwriting

DWP: August 22

Today is poet and civil rights activist Dorothy Parker’s birthday, so today’s prompt is to be inspired by her caustic wit and sardonic style. Access your own inner Dorothy and write from a place of anger, distaste, hate or heartbreak. Let your inner demons out to play. This prompt is probably a good one for … Continue reading DWP: August 22

Looking down onto the wooden deck of a ship, with red vent pipes and a black railing around the edge. In the centre of the deck a figure is lyng down, almost completely hidden under and inside ca crumpled paper garment. One leg sticks out the bottom - it is a white persons leg, bare up to the knee and then wearing black trousers above. Some water reflecting blur sky is visible beyond the deck and railings.

DWP: August 21

Today is the anniversary of several uprisings and rebellions around the world, including by Pueblo peoples, Tlingit peoples and Nat Turner’s rebellion – all fighting to reclaim their land or their own bodies. It is also the day Captain James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia and renamed it New South Wales – ignoring the existence … Continue reading DWP: August 21

A grainy blue projected image of Alicia's face, palms held up and out towards us on either side of Alicia's face. In the centre is a yellow postit note, part of the surface being projected onto. It reads "Follow me"

DWP: August 19

Today is my friend Alicia Radage’s birthday, so today’s prompt is to go look at Alicia’s artwork here and use the images, text or both to start something off (the fun technical term for this is ekphrastic poetry). You might place one of Alicia’s artwork titles inside a piece and write around it, you might … Continue reading DWP: August 19

Two black handprints show up on a crumpled white surface, spotlit in torchlight.

DWP: August 18

Today marks 408 years since the Pendle witch trials in Lancashire, in which ten people were hung for witchcraft. During the trials, nine-year-old Jennet Device gave evidence against her own mother, saying that she had seen Elizabeth having conversations with her familiar; a brown dog called Ball. Some of the accused did believe they had … Continue reading DWP: August 18

A bare speaker cone hanging down, with glow-stick bracelets encricling it. A card tag hangs off it, showing a catrtoon figure holding a speaker to their chest, and the words "hold to chest" are written beside it.

DWP: August 17

Today is Rachel Pollack‘s birthday, so today’s prompt is tarot related. If you don’t have a tarot deck, you can use a playing card deck (have a google -there’s loads of sites explaining it), or you can use any of the free online tarot sources to pull some cards. Draw 3 cards; the first one … Continue reading DWP: August 17

A wild stream with rocks and pebbles in the foreground, and a green bank beyond the water. In the stream, under the water, is a long strip of paper that might have writing on it.

DWP: August 15

Today I want to celebrate a couple of birthdays – composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, fiddle-player and road-builder Blind Jack Metcalf, and – whilst we don’t know her precise birthday – composer and musician Barbara Strozzi was baptised in August 1619. All these folks had obstacles in their way but carried on and found a … Continue reading DWP: August 15

A rough dirty white wall and floor green with moss and mould. 5 strips of black paper are assembled around a circular block of stone or cement. On the stone are some piees of chalk and charcoal. The black papers have various drawings or words on them - a white chalk moon, a bare footprint in chalk, other symbols or letters that are not legible.

DWP: August 14

On August 14 1792, enslaved peoples from plantations in Saint-Domingue , marked the start of the Haitian Revolution with a Vodou ceremony led by mambo Cécile Fatiman and houngan Dutty Boukman at Bois Caïman. The uprising would go on to be the only rebellion by enslaved peoples to result in a state free from slavery. … Continue reading DWP: August 14

A rugged rocky coastline with a grey, overcast but softly beautiful sea gently rolling in against the ragged black edges of rocks.

DWP: August 13

I spent a night in Ashdown Forest, sleeping in a hammock, woken up by owls, foxes, woodpeckers, small unidentified creatures rustling. Over this week, we are passing through the Perseids meteor shower, so there were shooting stars above. It felt precarious, free, uncomfortable and joyful. Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong’o write “New forms of wildness … Continue reading DWP: August 13

In the centre is the sun, and around it is a big halo of light through hazey sky, a pale rainbow circle.

DWP: August 11

On August 11 1942, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr and her collaborator, composer George Antheil, received their patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that has since provided the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi. Hedy had fled both her country and her marriage in 1937, escaping from Vienna to Paris, … Continue reading DWP: August 11

A mug on a windowsill. The wall and window is comepltely covered in brown paper which has been scribbled all over. The mug has also been drawn on the whole picture is covered in doodling lines and marks.

DWP: August 10

Yesterday was Tove Jansson’s birthday, so today’s prompt celebrates her life and love. Jansson based many of her Moomin characters on real people: Too-ticky is inspired by her long-term girlfriend, Snufkin is based on an ex-boyfriend, and an early drawing of what became Moomintroll started as an insulting portrayal of Kant. I’ve also been re-reading … Continue reading DWP: August 10

A handwritten poem on a piece of paper that has been washed, crumpled, ripped and pieced back together.

DWP: August 9

One of the books I’m reading at the moment is Opacity-Minority-Improvisation, by Anna T. The book is looking at queer slangs from around the world, like Polari, and how they construct a kind of linguistic closet for the users. The author often writes in Greek without translating, and leaves gaps in the text when there … Continue reading DWP: August 9

A wild beach with a ragged cliff in the left-hand distance, and a sky blue with soft white clouds. A single figure stands some way off, at the water's edge, their form reflected in the the wet sand.

DWP: August 8

I’ve been reading about lots of AFAB warrior queens (having long had an obsession with female pirates), so today’s prompt is inspired by Queen Amina and others. Amina was a Hausa warrior queen in the city state of Zazzau, now north-west Nigeria. You might also like to check out Gráinne Ní Mháille, Sayyida al Hurra, … Continue reading DWP: August 8

A palm print made with black ink or paint on white paper.

DWP: August 7

I just read Kae Tempest’s beautiful announcement about their name change and gender identity. In the post, Kae talks about their new name being a name for Jay birds – I’m copying this directly cos it’s so nice: “It’s pronounced like the letter K. It’s an old English word that means jay bird. Jays are … Continue reading DWP: August 7

A low hill of rough grass with a slightly cloudy sky above it. A telephone wire and pole sit top left. In the centre is a small white trailer with a closed hatch and the word "l'oasis" handpainted on it in faded rainbow colours. Various bits of discarded fence post and tarpaulin lie around it.

DWP: August 6

#DailyWritingPrompt for today: On August 6 1926, New Yorker Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, a task previously thought impossible for a woman to achieve. Whilst I’d never impose a sexuality or gender identity on someone else, I think it’s interesting that she never married and lived all her … Continue reading DWP: August 6

The History Bois: A Drag King Take-Over

May 3-7 at The Spire, St Marks Chapel, Eastern Road, Brighton, BN2 5JN

Created with drag king and artist E.M. Parry, this week-long take-over of the Spire is an exploration of masculinity through the ages, combining exhibition, live art, workshops and a two-night drag king cabaret.

The History Bois: Adventures in Drag King time-travel

May 6 & 7, 7:30-11pm

The Bois are back in time! Come and play with the space-time-gender continuum at this epic Drag King cabaret. As part of the History Bois Drag King take-over of The Spire, we bring you Adventures in Drag King Time-Travel: two nights of delicious historically-themed cabaret performed by a succession of legendary kings time-travelling direct to Brighton Fringe 2020, bringing you a queer crash-course in masculinity as performed through the ages. Whether you like your manhood ruff-and-ready, Boi-Georgian, sweet-as-funk 70s style or post-apocalyptic robo-camp, the Bois have one hell of a history lesson lined up for you…

The History Bois: Meeting the Unruly Dead

May 4 & 5, afternoon / evening workshops

Part of the History Bois Drag King take-over of The Spire, these workshops run by Drag King and artist SL Grange are for folks wanting to connect with their queer tr/ancestors. Using writing, drawing and performative processes, we’ll create our own rituals and art to uncover and honour lost queer hero/ines. If you already have a historical figure in mind that you want to work with, please bring any research along. Otherwise, there’ll be a range of folks to explore at the workshop. Basic art materials provided, or bring your own if you already have a creative practice you’d like to incorporate.

The History Bois: We Elizabethans

May 3-7, 10-5

An exhibition of visual and live artwork by E.M. Parry, as part of The History Bois drag king takeover, using costume, scenography and performance to stage dialogues with past and future, tracking queer and trans embodiments in the negative spaces of the historical archive.

Singing Our Lives 2018

After last year’s amazing project working with community choir groups and refugees, I was back on the Together Productions team for a second go. This time we wrote one new song – with 150 people! The resulting piece is called Sembo! and is a journey from isolation and fear, through to a united call for justice. I facilitated one big workshop using Open Space Technology, where we gathered themes, fragments of text & music and some key images. This was followed up by a smaller writing workshop where we focussed on the two main themes that had emerged and created more written material, which I took away and curated into the final libretto.

Bringing together the Mixed Up Chorus, Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus, Freedom From Torture, Woven Gold, Stile Antico, students from Guildhall School and spoken word artist Zena Edwards, with Phelim McDermott as director and Mike Roberts as composer, we cooked up quite a storm. The gala performance took place on July 1 at Milton Court, in front of a few hundred enthusiastic folk, and raised money for Freedom From Torture and Woven Gold.



3FF – Singing Our Lives

I’ve been working with interfaith dialogue organisation 3FF and their resident choir – the Mixed Up Chorus – to create a new song cycle. Alongside composer Mike Roberts, we ran a series of workshops with the choir members, immigrant parents from the local primary school, and members of Freedom From Tortures choir. We explored the groups experiences of migration and refuge, and collaboratively developed words and music resulting in 3 new songs.

The Mixed Up Chorus performed the pieces in July 2017. BBC Radio 4 were there to record the songs and talk to some of the participants. You can hear the article here, with one of our song-cycle pieces – Prayer For Tomorrow – in the background: 

Writing on the Walls

A mark-making workshop for up to 25 participants. Working with graphite, our bodies and our impulses to quieten our inner critics and make uninhibited marks freed from the constraints of the page. We work in physical conversation with each other; listening, dreaming and improvising together to help something new emerge. An artwork, a story, a joyful mess.