Poem Tryouts: Word Play

02 Sep

8:11 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Harry Belafonte — easily one of the most singable with singers

Hello, everyone. So, the problem with three day weekends where Monday is the holiday? It’s as if there were no Monday. I wake up Tuesday morning to my brain saying, Hi. Don’t you have a blog? Ack. Parents who waved their children off to school (finally!), take a moment, grab a cup of something, pick you favourite view wherever you are and sit for thirty minutes, not thinking about anything in particular, just knowing you can sit for thirty minutes. Yes, of course, the rest of you can do that, too.

There are no particular rules for word play prompts, which occur when I become fascinated with some aspect of a word, its meaning, its origins, maybe just the sound of it. I would feel as if I were tossing you in the deep end buoy-less if I didn’t, at least, offer possible directions to take.

Our word today is a word whose sound I love: obscure.

You might deal with the meaning of the word as you know it. The poem might, or might not, mention the word in it, but you will have an element of obscurity about some aspect of your poem.

You can play with the word in its verb form and its noun form. Again, you don’t necessarily have to use the word itself.

You can look the word up and use one of its more obscure (snicker) meanings. I am finding it hard to resist: to reduce a vowel to a neutral sound represented by schwa.

You can track its etymology back to its Indo-European roots meaning to cover, and follow the changes down through the Latin for to make dark, unclear, to the Old French for clouded or gloomy and on down.

You can visit this nifty site I found and after losing yourself for a while in all the possibilities (keep scrolling), write a found poem, a remix, or an erasure, from any, or all parts of the page on obscure.

Artists and photographers consider the word chiaroscuro. That’s right, the -scuro part is from the same root.

Do whatever your brain is telling you, but there should probably be a connection to obscureness.

I will see you Thursday for links — don’t forget this is where I can announce things you want announced; Friday for a continued introduction to the prompt sites we use; and Tuesday for the next prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.



  • 9 Fun Facts About the Schwa

Posted by on 02/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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26 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Word Play

  1. b_young

    02/09/2014 at 10:03 am

    The problem with WordPress’s “related articles” combining with their way of pulling the first image in a post as a highlight illustration: I have a compulsion to write an obscure schwa poem. Just as well since, if I go out on the porch, Jazz mews piteously and the goldfinches complain about stalkers.

    This may take a bit

    • margo roby

      02/09/2014 at 10:06 am

      I considered that. I don’t usually attach stuff. But, as I said, I found it hard to resist the meaning of obscure to do with schwa. You may schwa all you would like — I love saying the word.

  2. Pingback: Duel Prompts: Two by Eleven | Jules Longer Strands of Gems
  3. julespaige

    02/09/2014 at 11:29 am

    For you a story, for Quickly pairs of sentences and ideas and ideals:

    You might also like the first piece I wrote for Quickly just before this one

    • julespaige

      02/09/2014 at 11:30 am

      Opps… posted to soon. The title is: Caught in the Letter C… an obscure fascination?

      • margo roby

        02/09/2014 at 11:55 am

        @Jules, 😀

  4. Pingback: The Obscure Vowel – ə | georgeplacepoetry by Debi Swim
  5. georgeplace2013

    02/09/2014 at 12:07 pm

    Barbara gave me the idea (hope she doesn’t mind cause I know this isn’t the direction she would have taken-too tame, ha). It is a found poem from the site I listed rather than the link you gave.

    • margo roby

      02/09/2014 at 12:25 pm

      Barbara will be tickled, no matter. On my way.

    • b_young

      02/09/2014 at 6:51 pm



    02/09/2014 at 12:11 pm

    The maize outside my window
    has grown so high
    it hides the lovely view.
    I can’t wait for harvest tide
    to see the view anew.

    I’m at a poetry workshop this week, so will have to catch up with all this later. (a lot of schwa-ing there)

    • margo roby

      02/09/2014 at 12:24 pm

      i knew I could depend on this group to schwa! Enjoy your workshop, ViV.

      I know just what you mean about views obscured. I await, impatiently for the leaves to drop, to have my views back.

  7. Pingback: to reduce a vow(el) to a neutral sound represented by schwa | Whimsygizmo's Blog
  8. whimsygizmo

    02/09/2014 at 12:44 pm

    Okay, that alternate definition hooked me. HARD. 🙂
    Thank you.

    • margo roby

      02/09/2014 at 12:51 pm

      Somehow, I knew this is a schwa group.

  9. Pingback: A Murky Concrete Poem | Metaphors and Smiles
  10. Hannah Gosselin

    02/09/2014 at 10:23 pm

    Hi there…a small obscure ditty to share.

    Thank you, Margo. 🙂

    • margo roby

      03/09/2014 at 7:58 am


  11. Misky

    03/09/2014 at 11:34 am

    Okay, a half a’loaf.

  12. markwindham

    03/09/2014 at 8:39 pm

    Snide and snippy? Me? Well, I would never…well, just a little maybe. 🙂

    • margo roby

      04/09/2014 at 7:34 am

      A teeny weeny bit, huh? 😉

  13. nwian

    04/09/2014 at 7:25 pm

    Here’s my attempt:

    • margo roby

      05/09/2014 at 8:33 am

      There you are. I’m on my way.

  14. purplepeninportland

    04/09/2014 at 11:08 pm

    Mine is up at:

  15. barbcrary

    07/09/2014 at 9:43 pm

    Still a day (or five) late and a dollar short – or three fries short of a happy meal. Anyway –

    • margo roby

      08/09/2014 at 8:33 am

      Thank God. I may not have my third part of Barbara’s three parter done for weeks.I really need to look at that today.


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