My 9th grade English teacher loved the word garage. I didn’t get it. For me, the word garage conjured up images of oil spots and old tools. She kept saying, “Listen to the sound, to how the word rolls off your tongue: garage.” This morning as I walked the dog, her words came back to me. I muttered to myself, “Garage, garage, garage.” More “g” words came to me: Garage. Gasoline. Gawk. Gorgeous. Gorgonzola. I said them aloud to the dog. He sniffed at the ground, ignoring me. But I kept going—I was finally appreciating the sound of the words, noticing how they felt as they rolled off my tongue.
In Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge‘s book Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words, she dedicated a whole chapter to “collecting words and creating a wordpool.” She says, “Words are lightweight, unbreakable, portable, and they’re everywhere. You can even make them up. … A word can trigger or inspire a poem, and words in a stack or thin list can make up poems.” (pp. 9-10)
So here’s your assignment writers: collect words. Dedicate a day, a week, or the rest of your life to gathering delicious words. Borrow them from books. Steal them from signs. Scribble down the words you overhear at the coffee shop and in the park. Once you have a bunch, copy the words onto small index cards or raffle tickets. Then play with them. Rearrange the words. Add new ones. Make sentences. Create poems. See what you can whip up with a few solid words!