Here’s the prompt:

Have you ever flipped to the index of a book and found it super interesting? Well, I have (yes, I live an exciting life!) For example, the other day I pulled from my shelf a copy of on old book that excerpts parts of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s journals. I took a look at the index, and found the following entry under “Man”:

fails to attain perfection, 46; can take advantage of any quality within him, 46; his plot of ground, 46; his use, 52, 56; not to be trusted with too much power, 55; should not be too conscientious, 58; occult relationship between animals and, 75; God in, 79, 86; not looked upon as an animal, 80; gains courage by going much alone, 81; the finished, 89; and woman, distinctive marks of, 109; reliance in the moral constitution of, 124; the infinitude of the private, 151; and men, 217; should compare advantageously with a river, 258.

That’s a poem, right there!
Today, I challenge you to write your own index poem. You could start with found language from an actual index, or you could invent an index, somewhat in the style of this poem by Thomas Brendler. Happy writing!

I’ve taken some lines from the index of ‘Drawing on the Artist Within’ by Betty Edwards, which is about unleashing your inner creativity in drawing and painting.  Its index inspires any kind of creative work. I’ve mixed these lines up with items from the index of ‘The Five-Minute Writer’ by Margret Geraghty.


What are you waiting for?
Drawing on gleams from within
taking a long look at creativity
drawing on new points of view.

The power of ritual:
drawing on intuition
making telling marks
drawing meaning from the inside out.

The age of epiphany:
drawing up the rules of the game
there is more to seeing than meets the eyeball
drawing close to the magic moment.