Word list

The List Poem to Out-list All Others—A Try-to-Follow-This Prompt

For prompts, I often provide a list of words to use in a poem, but then I saw this poem made up of a list, and, well, I was just floored. So the challenge for you (and me) is to create a list that is a poem, one that sucks your breath back down your throat until you aren’t sure if you are made to breathe air or water or some hybrid of envy and awe.


It is probably best to start with a category so that all of your words are cohesive and then break that category by adding other parts of speech. Although I can almost never write a poem from my own prompts, I do have a vague idea for this one. Wish me luck! And I am wishing you luck too!


Somehow I saw the figure of Buddha when I was in the Cathedral section of Blanchard Caverns, but the shape didn’t come through in the photo.

The CDC’s 7 Forbidden Words—Another Word List Prompt

As you may have read, the Trump Administration is prohibiting officials at the CDC from using seven words/phrases in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

The list of forbidden words:

  1. Evidence-based
  2. science-based
  3. vulnerable
  4. entitlement
  5. diversity
  6. transgender
  7. fetus.

Several poets have suggested using these seven words in a poem. I first read of the prompt from Cathy Park Hong on Twitter, but several others posted the idea on Facebook.

Here is an opportunity you might like: Sarah Freligh and Amy Lemmon invited poets to submit poems in any form but using all seven words (preferably in repetition) to CDCpoetry@gmail.com for publication on their blog. Check their blog out for updates, more prompts and poems.



Femme Fairy Tale Word List

Word lists, yes, word lists. While all of us remember having to write out vocabulary words, exercises using words from one poem or by a particular poet can propel some useful freewriting or even lead into a poem or short story. Just as a form can force our writing into a new direction by its restrictions, word lists and ghost lines can offer a starting point. Sometimes a box opens into a whole new room.  

Below is a femme fairy tale word and phrase list from “Little Red”in Double Jinx by Nancy Reddy.

Choose eight and climb in. See where it carries you.

Gorged                                                                       Kindling

Grainy                                                                         Hearth

Swallowed                                                                  Framed

Rib cage                                                                      Rumbling

Papered                                                                       Hidden

Shelved                                                                       Pinned

Belly plump                                                                Vivisection

Gobbled                                                                      Pink

Roast                                                                           Fall

Cracking                                                                     Inside

Double Jinx.jpg

Nancy Reddy

Rather than reading the poem that originated the list, which may restrict your own originality, check out the fabulous "The Case of the Double Jinx" by Nancy Reddy.