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!


I met Evelyn at a lunch of writers. She moved to Boise last summer, writes gardening books, and also is a musician about town. We had a terrific time at this lunch: it was a spring-feeling day and we were all talking about our writing projects, and I found myself feeling curious about the word an avid gardener might give.

The Stranger: Evelyn 

Her Word: Fanciful

The poem I wrote:

In so many stories of Cinderella the girl is part-beast:
she communes with fish and wears coats made of the skin
of cats—she hides in dovecotes and scurries up trees

like a squirrel. She is a good animal. Is this why
we read these stories, even with their horror and familiarity:
to see the body and bone and growl in ourselves?

Would it be the same if the girl were made of grass—
if we gardened her and she flourished like a lily, all green
and wet and fanciful, sometimes growing?

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