top of page

Playing with Dictionary Poem: Poetry Prompt

Jill McDonough's poem, Dictionary Poem, is rich with inspiration, as well as being an amazing poem. So this week's prompt will use her poem as its base; in fact, you have a choice of prompts based on this poem.

  1. Use the words that McDonough italicized in her poem in your own poem. Those words are: ambivalent, incarceration, indigo, heft, cobbles, ostensibly, allure, billow, gypsum, joist, resentment, regret

  2. Take the first line (I love teaching people how to use a dictionary), and start your poem with I love teaching people how to . . . something else. If you choose this prompt, remember to use an epigraph in between your title and poem.

  3. Pull out your dictionary and open to a random page. Close your eyes and point! Whatever entry your finger lands on is the basis for your poem in one form or another.

  4. Jill McDonough wrote this poem based on her own experience as a teacher in women's prisons. Have you had a job or a volunteer position that was a little off the beaten path? Maybe you were a meteorologist or you spend your winters leading dog-sled vacations. Perhaps you volunteer with the Red Cross sheltering people after disasters or you transport shelter animals for an animal rescue group. It could be that you have met someone else who has done something interesting and you listened to their stories--this could also be the spark for your poem (Chatting with the Fire Jumper As We Stand In Line at the Bank, for example).

  5. Rather than Dictionary Poem, write Cookbook Poem, Thesaurus Poem, Old Medical Textbook Poem, etc.

  6. Write a short poem in rhymed couplets.

As always, have fun with your first draft from the prompt. Then have even more fun revising your draft! Have a great writing week, and remember to check back on Wednesday for another poem.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page