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!


Marty works at Annenberg, Harvard’s freshman dining hall—where, as a summer school instructor, I sometimes have lunch. The other day he stopped by to say a very warm hello.

The Stranger: Marty

The Word: Enthusiasm

The poem I wrote:

These, the toilers,
are my poets. Not
the splendid ones
but those who live
in study, their quiet
vows safekept. They
carry enthusiasm, yes,
but hold it low
beneath the heart.
These ones I love
so much. You
know it is you,
you who write
the poems to stop
a person dead,
even if only a few
die from it.


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