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I’d like to share with you one of the prompts I used in last week’s writing workshop, which was inspired by my having recently read the beginning of Landmarks, by Robert MacFarlane. Here is the paragraph that particularly moved me, copied here from a newspaper article which you can read in full by following this link:


lost words

First, without having said anything about the background context to the idea, I asked each person to take a sheet of paper and write at the top one of their favourite words (no theme, just a favourite word). That paper was then passed to the right, another received from the left, and another word added until we had a beautiful collection. I then read the above paragraph, and asked people to write a poem in celebration of their favourite words. Of course, it need not include all or any of the ones we’d already collected, for as always I offer prompts with the lightest of nudges – there are really no rules, just a wide and heartfelt invitation to play in that general direction.  This is what I wrote, in 10 minutes, unedited and imperfect:



Story, a collection of words

phrases and sentences

but also a weaving

a binding, a flowing

of a river that takes you

on a journey


I have a story

and it has a beginning

and it will have an end

but the words that fill it

are as life-full and vulnerable

as the elemental environment


If I plant wonder and cuddle

and sharing and joy

the earth of my roots

fixes in itself foundations of

magic and kindness

and feasting and fun


but stories are being polluted,

like car fumes choking our air,

with thick rooted, thorn stemmed

fear and hatred,

indifference and defense


To rewrite the story

mind needs a shedfull of tools;

compassion to cut down the fear that’s flourishing

and throw it on the compost,

and kindness to weed away the illusion of lack

that abundance might be visible again


The mind environment,

the heart habitat,

are threatened too

but we all have the word tools

we need to clean it up

let it breathe

let it weave

a journey of wonder again


Should you feel moved, follow this link to sign the petition requesting the reinstatement of these culled nature words in the Junior Oxford English Dictionary:



I could say so much more, but I’ll leave that for another time. Suffice it to say, my dear wordsmith, language loving friends – cherish words, use them well and widely!



If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:


and here: