Last calls for September Word of the Month poems

Hi everyone,

Thank you, Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader, for the swell picture

We’ve been zipping along with our September Word of the Month poems, thanks to CORY CORRADO’S good pick. If you haven’t added yours yet, you still have time, but don’t put it off any longer.

Next up for October will be JEANNE POLAND, choosing a new word to inspire and challenge us. That’s coming up on the 1st.

Cory says the word of the Month word for September is . . .

Hi everyone,

As you know, I’ve invited the poets who attended my first Highlights Foundation Workshop near Honesdale in 2011 to provide the Word of the Month words for the next several months. Today we lead off with our Canadian friend, CORY CORRADO. Those early events took place in the house where the originators of Highlights Magazine for Children once lived. Here’s Cory having fun on a swing in the big side yard.

Cory has been the unofficial keeper of all the words we’ve used since October 2009. It seems only fitting and proper that she should choose the word of the month for September, which marks the end of the 13th year of Word of the Month. This is our 156th month of making poetry inspired by a single word. What has Cory chosen. Drum roll please… the word is ZIP!

Thank you, Cory. I can’t wait to see what our poets here and abroad will do with such an energetic word!

Planning ahead for Word of the Month Poetry Challenge

Hi everyone,

Becca, Susan, Joy, Carol-Ann, and Jeanne

In a few more days it will be time to post a word for the September Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. For the past many months I’ve posted each new word myself, but I think it’s time to share the fun again.

The first Highlights poetry workshop I gave in Honesdale, in 2011, was attended by the following good people CORY CORRADO, JEANNE POLAND, KEN SLESARIK, SUSAN CARMICHAEL, JOY ACEY, HEIDI MORDHORST, BECCA MENSHEN, and CAROL-ANN HOYTE. In previous posts I’ve mentioned this group of poets, most of whom came to the workshop as strangers and left friends. Many have remained in touch over these past eleven years.

Cory and Carol-Ann

With that original group in mind, I’m going to ask each in turn to provide the Word of the Month word for the coming months of September (Cory), October (Jeanne), November (Ken), December (Susan), January (Joy), February (Heidi), March (Becca), and April (Carol-Ann). If someone would rather not or can’t be located in time, we’ll always have me as Plan B.

Ken, Carol-Ann, Heidi, Joy, and Susan

So Cory, you’re up first. Send me a note in the next few days at with your word for September and I’ll post it on September 1. Thank you in advance!

The November Word of the Month is…

Hi everyone,

As I say every month, and mean it every month, “Where did this past month go?” And, “Thank you for all your poems!”

We started Word of the Month Poetry Challenge in October 2009 so at 12 months per year times 12 years, we’ve completed 144 months of poems. A handful of you have followed the blog that long and some have contributed a poem in almost every month since the beginning. My heartful gratitude for your longtime support and friendship.

Also, as I do each month, I open the beautiful booklet arranged and published by Cory Corrado in 2018, to remind me of all the words we’ve every used as I choose the new one. Cory, I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful gift.

Before Cory came to my rescue, I had inadvertently used the same word twice on six occasions — water, promise, sour, window, may, and renew. For November, for the first time, I’m intentionally choosing a word prompt we’ve used before. The first Word of the Month word, back in October 2009, was DIRT. It turned out to be a lucky choice. We had a number of excellent poems to help kick of what has now become a traditional part of this blog.

I’ll write a new dirt poem this month, but for now here’s the one I did for the original episode of Word of the Month. I’m seldom so wordy. Oh well. And to think that my book that came out in August, THE DIRT BOOK, might have already been fermenting twelve years ago.


I liked you the first time we met,
at least I thought I would like you
if I got to know you,
except for your nails.
I couldn’t help noticing
the foul moon-rims of grime
clutching at your cuticles.

The thought occurred that dirt,
which you like enough
to pack at your fingertips,
might have a poem buried in it.

Honestly, I had little hope for my subject.
It’s hard to hold something in high esteem
that one tracks in on one’s shoes.
Only my respect for you kept me going.

Turns out there’s more
than meets the eye with dirt.
Roots slow-motionly wriggling down
like moles in the dark after water
prize off tiny flecks of bedrock.
Mix enough rock parts with humus
and you’re getting somewhere, dirt-wise.

Humus is a dry gumbo,
the handiwork of dentrivores,
a multiracial gang of ruffians, mostly
fungi, worms, bacteria, mites, and insects –
mercenary goblins that dine on decay,
slurping dead plants and animals

till you could easily mistake diner for dinner.

Thanks to dentrivores, not all dirt
tastes the same. But considering
the supply you keep on hand,
I may not be telling you something
you don’t know.

When you think about dirt,
and I can’t seem to stop,
dirt provides lodging for a zoo
of creatures that grub, grope, and burrow
through its gritty underworld.

Mixed with water dirt fortifies bird nests and
helps mud daubers stick their homes
in annoying places such as
above my garage door.

By contrast, dust courts the corporate crowd.
Swirling like a truant genie,
dust grants wishes to carwash owners
and supports entire industries
of polish, soap, and facial tissue makers,

but I digress. The thing is, I was right
about liking you in spite of your nails
crammed with limestone powder, worm goo,
and the odd molecule of bee leg or roach
(all in a day’s work for humus).

But I can’t resist suggesting that dirt
should stick with dirt and you might consider
returning your private stash to the garden

or perhaps to a trash sack headed to
the dump. Then, I believe,
at least I hope very much, that
I can put down this thing about dirt
and wipe it off of my worry list.

—       (c) 2009 David L Harrison

The word for March Word of the Month Poetry Challenge is…

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all who joined us during February for Word of the Month. We had some exceptional efforts. Kim Jasper posted a strong poem last night and I’m sorry to have to take it (and all February poems) down this morning to make way for March. Kim, I’m leaving yours up for a couple of extra days to give people a chance to see your work. I hope you’ll give us another sample for March.

Speaking of March, the word for this month is TIME. Cory Corrado, you have kept track of all the words we’ve ever used so you’ll know if this is a repeat. I don’t have with me the alphabetized list you were kind enough to send me so if this is a duplicate, in my defense I can only say it feels like time again.