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

Share your poem on this week’s word!


Today marks the 200th poem of Poetry for Strangers! Tremendous thank you to all readers, strangers, and poets who keep this project interesting.

Several weekends ago, I had the great pleasure of visiting Trine University, my grandfather’s alma mater and in his estimation the entire reason he was able to leave the coal mines and start a career as a professor of chemical engineering. Trine sits in the northeast corner of Indiana, and Indiana is a place whose warmth and kindness cannot be overstated. My job was to deliver two talks, one on my grandfather’s biography, the other on Poetry for Strangers. Between talks, I spent a lovely hour chatting with Earl Brooks, the university president.

The Stranger: Earl

The Word: Energy

The poem I wrote:

The constant

how will
your life

be solved?

The incomplete

you think about

at night.

(Don’t wish
these years

The well-

puts forth
the same

each day:

If it gives you

do it.

The Challenge: Do you have a poem in you on this word? Write one here.