Saturday, February 14, 2015

Prompt #217 – Favorite Words

When I woke yesterday morning, the thermometer on my deck read 2º F. (– 17) C.) Brrrr! As much as I love winter, that's cold! Apropos of nothing in particular, after checking the outdoor temperature and putting out some bread and peanut butter for the squirrels, I sat down with a cup of Earl Grey and thought  about my favorite word. I know—what made me think of that? Do you have a favorite word? Mine is rill. I’ve always thought that if I were to use a pseudonym, the first name would be “Rill.” Interestingly, I’ve never used that word in anything I’ve written.

This week, I’d like you to think about your favorite words and then choose one to be the inspiration word for a poem.


1. Begin by making a list of words that you like (any part of speech—noun, verb, adjective—is fine).

2. After you’ve made your list, take a look at it and choose one of the words to work with.

3. Make another list of ideas, images, and emotions that your chosen word brings to mind.

3. Does your word make you think of a particular experience?

4. Begin writing, and let your “favorite word” guide the direction of your poem.

5. Be sure to use the word as, or in, your title.

6. An alternative is to choose a word you dislike.

7. And another alternative is to choose the weirdest word you've ever heard.


1. Be sure to include fresh language, concreteness, and a strong emotional center. Find the “power” in your word and give that power its head.

2.  Show, don’t tell.

3. Avoid “ing” endings and prepositional phrases.

4. Connect, reveal, and surprise (yourself and your readers). Remember that a good poem should astonish its readers in some way.

5. Perhaps pose a question that’s impossible to answer.

6. During the editing and revising part of your process, look for the “lifeless” parts of your poem and either give them life or get rid of them.


There is a Word
By Emily Dickinson

There is a word
Which bears a sword
Can pierce an armed man—
It hurls its barbed syllables
And is mute again—
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
some epauletted Brother
Gave his breath away.

Wherever runds the breathless sun—
Wherever roams the day—
There is its noiseless onset—
There is its victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
The most accomplished shot!
Time’s sublimest target
Is a soul “Forgot.”


  1. What fun! I've been sitting here thinking about words I like and made a list of several. Now -- to choose just one.

    Thinking about words I dislike sounds like fun too.

    I was going to clean my flat today ...

    1. So glad you like this one, Jamie! I always say that house cleaning can wait when there's poetry to be written!

  2. Words! What a great idea -- pick a favorite and write about it! Thanks, Adele.

    1. Glad you like this one, Sandy! Hope you get a wonderful poem!

  3. My contribution,a word hated


    1. Thanks for sharing, Hank! I really like your poem and greatly appreciate your acknowledgment.

    2. A wonderful poem (just found it today). I enjoyed your site too. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. I had to look up "rill." A great word!

    noun: rill; plural noun: rills
    1. a small stream.
    a shallow channel cut in the ground by running water.
    variant spelling of rille.

    verb: rill; 3rd person present: rills; gerund or present participle: rilling; past tense: rilled; past participle: rilled
    1. (of water) flow in or as in a rill.
    "the springwater rilled over our cold hands"

    Another great idea for use in my classroom.

    1. I wondered if anyone would look up "rill!" Hope the prompt goes well with your students.

  5. I live in Boston, and the word I hate is "snow!" I plan to have some fun with a poem about how much I hate snow. Thanks for this prompt, Adele.

    1. I've seen the Boston snow situation on TV, and I can't imagine anything like it. I hope you enjoy a good "rant" in your poem!

      P.S. We're all looking forward to spring!

  6. Shalom
    is not just hello
    also goodbye
    peace be with you
    may you be at ease
    restful in your comings and goings
    back and forth
    goes the way

    1. Nicely done, Risa! A beautiful word with beautiful meanings.

  7. Ah, lovely, Risa! "Shalom" was one of my mother's favorite words. To her "shalom" was a special kind of blessing that conveyed feelings and wishes for complete peace, well being, and harmony.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. To you, Risa, shalom!