During the depression years of the 1930s, my mother—who graduated from high school but had to turn down a college scholarship in order to earn money her family needed to survive—held a clerical job with the Works Projects Administration (WPA). It was a position that did not keep her very busy, so she began her own project of going through the dictionary and writing down new words with their definitions on 3×5 cards, which she kept for decades. Indeed, her vocabulary was great, and she continued to try to learn new words all of her life, imparting to me her belief that if you used a word three times, you owned it. Although she worked all her life as a secretary; she became an excellent social organizer, public speaker, and cross-word puzzle expert. She also wrote corny poems for all kinds of occasions—little ditties that discomfited me when she was alive, but that I now cherish. She passed on to me a love of words and a desire to explore language for which I am wholeheartedly grateful.
For some time now, I have received Anu Garg’s A Word A Day message in my email. I also get a daily email from dictionary.com. I love these missives with their lovely words packaged like daily birthday presents. As did my mother, I have also created a list of words that catch my attention, either because I have long loved them or like their sound or feel in my mouth, but most often because they are new to me and I covet them. It’s quite a long list.
I thought I might challenge myself to use a daily word as a poetry prompt, to see if I can keep a practice of writing a poem-a-day. I have been so inspired by those who make a daily poem part of their writing practice; I loved doing so during national poetry month in April of 2010 and 2011. This would be in addition to the commitment I am trying to fulfill of writing a daily blog entry.
Maybe it’s too ambitious? I’m just thinking about it at the moment. I’ll let you know what I decide.