Writing Prompt: Tarot Poetry

WITH ITS 78 (DRAMATIC!) ILLUSTRATIONS of human experience, it’s no wonder poets find inspiration in the tarot! For instance, when poet and tarot reader Tabitha Dial needed a fresh take for her poetry thesis, she dug out her Universal Rider Waite tarot deck to prompt her—and created from those prompts the book-length collection of poems she needed to complete her degree!

Now a tarot reader with an MFA in poetry, Tabitha teaches others how to use the cards for inspiration. She suggests we pick a card, start by listing its visual elements, and see where that takes us. Lists, she says, can be powerful and stand as their own poems—take for example [Tabitha’s poem] “The Banner (The Sun),” [which] stems from descriptions of the image and lays claim to a more general idea of what it may symbolize at the end.


The Banner (The Sun) 

Red, blood’s rich mania,
fabric’s flow,
in the small grasp
of the child
in a brightness
that is too much.

(Learn more about Tabitha at Tarot and Tea-leaf Readings.)

Using a slightly more interpretive approach to description, artist/teacher/tarot reader Andrew Kyle McGregor, proprietor of Toronto’s The Hermit’s Lamp, wrote this poetic riff on the Tarot de Marseille’s Trump XIII:


Trump XIII

Your footing now so blue and untrustworthy,
as to make your heart pound in your throat.
The shadow of your face always
casting backwards,
as your leg bone refuses to sing
like it used to.

(Andrew’s new book, SIMPLY LEARN TAROT, is available now!)

Tarot Writing Prompt

Your turn! If you’ve got a tarot deck at hand, pick a card (any card) and start naming what you see—then tweak your list poem-wards. Don’t have a deck? Choose a card image from the hundreds (thousands?) on Aeclectic Tarot. (And while you’re there, take a look at Aeclectic’s dedicated Tarot Haiku thread. Jump right into the limited-syllable sandbox for a tarot-2-poetry play-date!)

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