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: Passion

April 3, 2013, 4:02 pm


In Mexico City this past week, sitting in a lush courtyard (insert bird-song here), my toddler daughter and I made fast friends with a woman named Tanya who had recently moved with her husband from Calgary to a small town a few hours out of Mexico City. I asked if she felt lonely so far from home. She said she had expected to – but no, she answered. Not at all.

The Stranger: Tanya more »

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

April 1, 2013, 9:14 pm

Dear friends,

I wanted to share the good news that my first poetry book, The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell, is available from Monkey Puzzle Press

This month, I’m offering through my website a custom poem along with the book. I’d love it if you’d help me spread the word: tell a literary friend or suggest the book to your library or bookshop.

Thanks for sharing in this exciting news with me. I hope your springs are getting off to a fresh, good start! And I hope to see you soon.


p.s. – Several friends have reprimanded me for not keeping them abreast of my writing news, so I’m including you in a poetry project called Poetry for Strangers. Every week I ask a stranger for a single word and then write a poem inspired by the word. If you’d rather not receive these poems, unsubscribe here



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 »

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