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: Apiary

May 8, 2013, 9:52 am

When Brian moved to Idaho, he began pursuing a hobby fulltime: beekeeping.

When my daughter and I stopped by his market stand for Katie Bee honey, Brian taught us about bees: how honey gets released from the comb, how queens shrink when they age, how the other bees smother the old queen when they have a new one ready. (“Does she fight it,” I asked, “after having them do her bidding for so long?” “No,” Brian answered. “She won’t know what’s going on.”)

My daughter and I tasted the honey – it was delicious.

The Stranger: Brian more »

The word: Meaningful

May 1, 2013, 11:11 am

Mike and his wife own a Montessori school in Boise, and when I asked Mike for a word, he gave me one-half of his family’s philosophy for all activities: that they be meaningful and that they be fun.

The Stranger: Mike more »

The word: Happy

April 24, 2013, 10:12 am

Joyce was a poem in herself, sitting alone at a table at Dawson’s Downtown Coffee House, waiting for a friend and affectionately heckling the baristas, all of whom she appeared to know well. In fact, she knew everybody in the shop and seemed like a person who needed a poem written about her. In writing the poem, I tried to use only words that she spoke.

The Stranger: Joyce more »

The word: Pancake

April 17, 2013, 10:43 am

Dear friends,

It’s been a hard week for runners and their friends this week – and even living across the continent still brings vulnerability, a sense of loss and loneliness. I’m not sure what to do, except write about it, be good to my people, and keep on.

Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Chocolat Bar in Boise to get some chocolates for friends.

The Stranger: Jenn, who filled us a box of chocolate bark. more »

The word: Gangrene

April 10, 2013, 8:12 am

Hello friends,

While in Austin this week, I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the poetry class of Thomas Whitbread, whose latest book, The Structures Minds Erect, I am reading now. At the end of class I asked him for a word.

The Stranger: Tom

His word: Gangrene (preferably used as a present participle) more »

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