by Karen Creative Writing

The Poet’s Toolbox

The poet’s main tools

Writer’s block hits in a different way when I write poetry. Instead of having blank thoughts, I have thoughts without the words to convey them. It’s the feeling you have when you need to sneeze and you say it out loud and then you can’t. I use two main tools and two auxiliaries. Growing up, the main ones were paperback books. Now I can open them on line easily. But I keep the old ones and use them almost as often.


I started using the thesaurus in dictionary form and in high school dabbled with the old-fashioned subject-type. I often find the original thesaurus a little distracting, and yet more helpful. I’ll go off on rabbit trails that bring me out at a better place. The thesaurus is such a huge help that once an elementary teacher accused my little sister of plagiarizing because she used it so well.

I learned a lot of new vocabulary from my thesaurus also. It’s all good!

This is the thesaurus my mom bought at a book sale when I was a fifth grader. It had no cover from the first day I owned it. Well-loved.

Rhyming Dictionary

My rhyming dictionary is nearly worn out. I wondered why it didn’t disappear when my oldest poet moved out. She discovered Instead of just alphabetical lists of rhymes, it breaks them down into parts of speech like nouns and verbs. No wonder she can write a poem a week!

If I had to choose between a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary, for poetry writing I’d go with the rhyming dictionary. It boosts the choices available and encourages word play.

Also from a book sale, its poor spine is broken.

My pencil and eraser

I cannot write poems in ink or on the keyboard. I’ve got to have a sharp pencil and a clean gummy eraser. I still cross out all over the place and put in a ton of arrows. One of the first things my husband gave me before we even started seeing each other, was a white eraser. They last forever. How to win my writer’s heart right there!

I have a love/hate relationship with pencils. No. 2s are too soft and lose their point. No. 4s are too hard and don’t erase well. Finding a no. 3 is nearly impossible.