Poetry Prompt: Instant Phrases


This post is part of a series of weekly found poetry prompts. If you have an idea for a found poetry source, email Senior Poetry Editor Beth Ayer

Guest post by James W. Moore

I recently started a new job as a Literacy Interventionist at a middle school, working to enrich the writing skills of students. In preparation for my new role, I shadowed a reading specialist who, among other things, has students read from a list of phrases for three minutes. They’ve done this daily, using it as a barometer for how the reading skills are improving. I thought that sounded interesting, but was wholly unprepared for how interesting it was to listen to. Listening to these students read was hypnotic—each phrase sounded like a sample from an unfinished article/story/poem. It was as though each piece of writing was floating by me, fast enough that I could only grab a phrase.

I asked to see the list afterwards and was introduced to Dr. Edward Fry’s Instant Phrase List (which is meant to contain 67% of the words students will encounter in their reading). Reading it front to back is (in and of itself) poetic, but I couldn’t wait to get it in the hands of found poets so you can work your magic. So get to it!

The prompt:

Take pieces or phrases or words from Dr. Fry (as hosted by Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D.) and make a poem. Or two. Or twelve.

Happy finding.


james w. moore is a writer of poetry, plays, and short stories. his poetry has appeared in the Found Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, and the Houston Chronicle. His debut collection of poems is called I Am the Maker of all sweetened possum.