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!


Last week I led a “getting unstuck” session for North Jr. High students participating in National Novel Writing Month. At the end I asked the whole group of stranger-writers for words they liked. Normally I don’t get to choose, but this day I waded through “unicorn,” “fairy,” and half a dozen others before accepting the word “fireworks” from a student named Hanna.

The Stranger: Hanna

Her Word: Fireworks

The poem I wrote:

I have been reading
about witches, how
they know to make
dolls from clay and
hurt somebody just
right – how they lose
fingers to the devil,
sell their daughters
to their dads. There
must be a thousand
types of mother and
who knows what a life
of accusation leads us
to do – how hunger
bursts arteries like
fireworks, fury dries
the heart into clay.
How rumor spreads
like flu or a curse,
giving ideas at least,
tricks to conjure up.

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