Poetry for Strangers is about finding inspiration in the chance encounters of everyday life. PFS suggests that every person can be the “muse” of a poem. Each week I ask a stranger for a single word and write a poem inspired by the word. I invite you to do the same.

Share your poem on this week’s word!


The word: Ascites

March 27, 2013, 8:31 am

Oh boy.

I asked for it because it seemed the biggest word challenge yet – to write a poem using the word ascites (hint: it is a gastroenterological term). I heard two doctors debating this: does ascites make you feel queasy, or because of its golden and frothy texture, does it make you want to drink a beer?

The stranger: Matt more »

The word: Love

March 20, 2013, 8:14 am


I’ll be travelling for the next few weeks, hoping to elicit words from strangers in other cities. Please keep sharing Poetry for Strangers with your friends and strangers – the more poems, the merrier.

And onto this week’s poem…

The Stranger: Kelly, who gave me the haircut I adore – which is to say, trim the ends and leave it long. We chatted about our daughters, and I asked her for a word. more »

The word: Griffonage

March 13, 2013, 1:28 pm

Hi all! I am enjoying your posted poems so much. Thank you.

I met Troy Passey at the Boise Art Museum, where his artwork was featured. It intrigued me that he examines words not for their meanings but for how they look. Illegibly scrawled words took over the room like dust-storms. One piece featured trees made up of tiny silver scribbles.

The Stranger: Troy more »

The word: Rustic

March 6, 2013, 7:50 pm

Hi friends,

A new week, a new stranger, and a new prose poem from the exchange: I met her back in December at a Christmas cookie exchange, where all I wanted to do was eat her cookies, these chocolate-rolled peanut-butter rice-crispy balls. Months later we met grocery shopping and remembered each other through the cookies we made.

The Stranger: Katie more »

The word: Blessed

February 27, 2013, 1:13 pm

Dear everybody,

Sohail and his wife own Taj Majal in downtown Boise, which makes pretty amazing Indian food. I came in one chilly evening to carry out an armful of takeout, and he gave me a comfortable chair and a warm cup of anis-cinnamon-cardamom tea.

The Stranger: Sohail more »

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