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Try my latest (and favorite) assignment sheet for writing an Identity Poem!

Click here to download an assignment sheet I recently created using the popular and always entertaining Mad Lib format. I’ve been toying around for years with ideas for getting students to write something that then gets used in a completely different way in the final product simply as a way of jumpstarting their creative process. For example, if a student is asked to think of an object or a past time that reminds him of his mother, he might innocently write “glass of red wine,” but when that turns out to be a metaphor FOR his mother—”My mother was a glass of red wine”—oh snap! Shiznit just got real. Now maybe it’s not accurate or maybe it is, but that’s a decision for later. Years ago, after reading Anne Sexton’s “Young,” which begins “A thousand doors ago when I was a lonely kid in a big house,” I asked students to write a line like that using a different but unexpected noun to mark the passage of time (the way Sexton seems to mark time in passing “doors”). One girl raised her hand, and asked if she could use “a thousand pills ago.” The rest of the class gasped; it was the first time she had publicly addressed her battles with addiction.

This assignment doesn’t invite quite that level of darkness, and it actually has much more humor built into it. I hope you enjoy it.


  1. Cathy Stoddert 10.4.17

    Hi, Taylor,

    I’ve admired you and enjoyed your work, style, presence, attitude, for years–since I first heard “What Teachers Make.” I’m part of that choir it sings to, an English teacher, but the poem’s just good and you’re a great human. Just wanted to let you know.

    Also–and now that I come off as a sycophant–don’t mean to–a friend/colleague received your metaphor dice and she was EXCITED. No kidding, just thrilled, and raced down to my room to share them with me. Brush with fame AND the dice themselves.

    How can I get them? How clever, fun for students, super useful, def. NOT Ed Flavor of the Month (I know you know what I’m talking about). I’ll pay!

    Cathy Stoddert
    Middlebury UHS
    Midd., VT

  2. taylormali_f0oqda 3.31.18

    At long last, you can now get your hands on a full set of Metaphor Dice by going here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1895958868/metaphor-dice-write-poetry-by-chance