Poem Tryouts: The Right Words

20 Oct

8:23 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to John Grant singing You & Him

Hello, all. My apologies for the non-appearance, Thursday. I was in the throes of a cold. You don’t want me anywhere around when that happens. I be a wretched and woebegone person. After several days of pills and rum toddies, I have emerged from the miasma. Let us write. We are borrowing from Diane Lockward, one of my favourite sources for ideas, both from her newsletter and her book The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop.

Early in the book (craft tip #5), Diane talks about finding the right words, no easy thing, if we want to elevate our poetry a notch, or two. Where to go for the right words? The dictionary is an awfully big ocean. A thesaurus can be helpful, but not necessarily poetic. We want words that sound and look and taste. She suggests keeping speciality catalogues, such as flower and seed catalogues, or any of the food catalogues (that come out about this time of year). These lists are also useful for found poetry, but that’s another road.

Aside from the catalogues, Diane tells us that she will Google an item. She gives as her example, blueberries, which took her to the website for the Gierke Blueberry Farm where she found ‘words like cultivars, domesticated, antioxidant and these lovely names of different kinds of blueberries: Rabbiteye, Primadonna, Sapphire, and Snowchaser.’ Aren’t they gorgeous? Another source is Wikipedia, which we can use in the same way as Google, the difference being, we get one article.

What would I like you to do? Grab pen and paper and sit at your machine. Pick a subject. For the purposes of today — unless you already have an idea — pick something simple like spiders, or snakes, or apples. Your objective is to find and use the best words in the best form to give us a poem about your subject. Or, have fun with a list poem.

For an idea of rich word use, Diane suggests some poems to read. Two of my favourites are Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Pied Beauty’ and Sharon Olds’ ‘One Year’.

Go forth and seek words. I’ll await the results. See you Thursday for links and such, and Tuesday for our image prompt. Yes, it is already the end of the month.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 20/10/2015 in exercises, poetry


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31 responses to “Poem Tryouts: The Right Words

  1. julespaige

    20/10/2015 at 10:47 am

    I get words from worlde list prompts… I did a flash fiction piece this morning with 25 words.
    But it isn’t a poem.
    Any way another good place to find the right words… maybe a list of quotes:

    Hope you are feeling better. ~J

    • georgeplace2013

      21/10/2015 at 1:31 pm

      Wonderful quotes, Jules. This is one of my favorites “A tangerine and russet cascade of kaleidoscopic leaves, creates a tapestry of autumn magic upon the emerald carpet of fading summer,” ~ quote by Judith A. Lindberg.

      • julespaige

        22/10/2015 at 7:41 am

        Glad I put the link in – I got it from the on line computer new.

    • margo roby

      22/10/2015 at 12:20 pm

      I haven’t wordled in a while; haven’t written anything in a while, now I think on it.
      I appreciate the link and the idea for a word source.

      Am on the mend but not chirpy, yet.


    • margo roby

      22/10/2015 at 12:22 pm

      I didn’t say more words, ViV!

  2. georgeplace2013

    21/10/2015 at 9:55 am

    Hey, Margo. Glad you are feeling better!

    • margo roby

      22/10/2015 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks, Debi. Getting the cold means I’ll be safe a while!

  3. Mary Bruce Leopold Holm Reed

    21/10/2015 at 12:28 pm

    lovely chance to write in an another way around.

    • margo roby

      22/10/2015 at 1:05 pm

      A pleasure to have a new voice.

  4. Hannah Gosselin

    21/10/2015 at 4:34 pm

    Glad you’re feeling better, too…good remedies and rest always help!

    I kind of strayed from your directions but I didn’t think you’d mind too much…there’s a cute picture of a baby deer to make up for it! 😉

    • margo roby

      22/10/2015 at 12:23 pm

      Strayed, huh? I don’t know, Hannah… oh, wait, baby deer? Well, okay, then.

  5. purplepeninportland

    21/10/2015 at 10:57 pm

    Happy to hear you are feeling better.

    Mine is up at:

  6. lillian

    22/10/2015 at 4:43 pm

    Hello Margo!
    Introduced to your site by Chalk Hill Journals so decided to try my hand at this.

    I wrote about the simple task of eating. Went about it a bit differently….brainstormed and wrote a huge list of words that related to eating/taste and ended up with the poem She Liked to Taste Life.

    Since my site is about accessible poetry….I thought this type of “finding” words more in tune with who I am. 🙂

    Hope you enjoy…….and I’ll definitely be back to participate again! So nice to meet you this lovely Thursday afternoon!

    • margo roby

      23/10/2015 at 11:42 am

      Hello Lillian! How lovely to be found. Glad to have you and looking forward to seeing you again.
      Heading your way, now.

  7. writersdream9

    22/10/2015 at 6:07 pm

    Do you do the poem tryouts everyday? I would like to take part.

    • margo roby

      23/10/2015 at 11:52 am

      Hi. I do the prompts every Tuesday and would love to have you join us. I set the prompt on Tuesday, but there is no time limit for when you post. When the poem is written, even two months later, that’s when you post.

  8. Jane Dougherty

    30/10/2015 at 5:18 pm

    Julespaige introduced me to your prompts. Thanks to you both! Pied Beauty was the first poem I ever remember loving. Here’s my poem, inspired by Manley Hopkins.

    • margo roby

      31/10/2015 at 10:38 am

      Welcome, Jane. I am always happy to have new poems to read and a new person to talk to. Pied Beauty was one of the first poems that caught at my heart.


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