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Challenges for the Delusional
Peter Murphy's Prompts and the Poems They Inspired

Jane Street Press, 1st Edition
   Edited by Christine Malvasi
   Foreword by Stephen Dunn 

$14, Available from Jane Street Press and Amazon

Full Book Description



Sample Writing Prompt

Adapted from Challenges for the Delusional

"Susan, we thought you wuz dead."
   "I was. I was in Joisey."
       ~ Desperately Seeking Susan

"Not going to New Jersey isn't procrastinating. It's common sense."
       ~ Igby Goes Down

Poetry Prompt  |  Fiction Prompt  |  Nonfiction/Memoir Prompt  |  Requirements

Poetry Prompt

Using the requirements below, write a poem set in New Jersey, real or imagined, about a difficult relationship. Refer to the whole state or to just one part of it that you find weird, wired or wonderful. Consider the difference between the typical and the stereotypical New Jersey. Name names. Be specific and visionary.

Fiction Alternative

Using the requirements below, write a story which involves a chance encounter with one of these New Jersey natives:

Jack Nicholson  -  Bruce Springsteen -  Bon Jovi  -  Redman -  Paul Robeson
Naughty by Nature  -  Sugar Hill Gang  -  Jason Alexander  -  Queen Latifah
Judy Blume  -  Susan Sarandon  -  Aaron Burr  -  Alexander Hamilton
Whitney Houston  -  Eddie Money  -  Frank Sinatra  -  Grover Cleveland
Woodrow Wilson  -  Walt Whitman  -  Bruce Willis  -  William Carlos Williams
Allen Ginsberg  -  Meryl Streep

Nonfiction/Memoir Alternative

Using the requirements below, write about the first time you saw the ocean. Discover something you didn't know you knew.


  1. Begin with a line or two of pure description.
  2. Experiment with diction, sound or form.
  3. Tell a secret, tell a lie and never tell anyone which is which.
  4. Surprise yourself.

Write about another state (or city or place) that you may know better or have more attitude about. Or warp it. Personify New Jersey so it fights back, talks trash to New York, Pennsylvania and its other vain siblings.

Challenge for the Delusional
Support, repeat or argue against one or more of the items from "New Jersey Facts and Trivia."

If You Enjoyed This Prompt

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