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Dave’s Scrabblegrams light up Twitter

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Twitter can be a nasty place. Often, the worst of humanity is on display as users mock, insult, and publicly attack one another online. But there are pockets of light, like the witty, clever, and delightful daily Scrabblegrams posted by Dr David Cohen from Atlanta, Georgia.

A Scrabblegram is a poem or piece of prose that uses all 100 letters in a Scrabble set exactly once. This means that each entry will contain exactly nine As, two Bs, two Cs … one X, two Ys, one Z (and two blanks which can be used as any letters). Cohen told the SA Jewish Report more about himself and his creative process.

“In 1997, Games magazine held a contest called ‘The Tale of the Tiles’ in which the objective was to write a story using each of the 100 Scrabble tiles exactly once,” Cohen said. “I was in graduate school at the time and had a lot of fun creating my entry, which was chosen as the grand prize winner.”

“After that contest, I never considered making another until 23 years later, when a wordplay writer wrote an article about Scrabblegrams [which have quite a rich and interesting history that preceded that Games contest by more than 20 years]. In the article, he honoured my contest entry by naming it as the best example of this unusual form of wordplay to date. A college friend of mine saw the article, and forwarded it to me. In response, I made my first new one in more than 20 years, called “A quiet, conscious, empty mind.”

The bug then bit Cohen again, and it became an obsession. “Once I started making new ones, I fell in love with the process and made them all the time, whenever I could, for close to two years,” he said. “I’d like to acknowledge my friend, Steve Geller, who was one of the only people I shared these with during the early days, and who has been invaluable as an editor along the way. When the collection reached about 180 entries, I decided it was a good time to share them in the hope that others might enjoy them too. I began posting them daily on Twitter under @dc_scrabblegram from 30 March 2022.”

“From the start, it seemed like a fun idea to connect entries to the date whenever possible … either the anniversary of a special date [e.g. the original publication date of a famous book], or the birthday of a notable person, or a national day [e.g. National Hummingbird Day]. Finding connections to each day’s date has become one of my favourite parts of this project,” Cohen said.

His ideas come from everywhere. “When I first started making Scrabblegrams, I enjoyed choosing topics that were ‘favourites’ for me over the years – favourite books, movies, tv shows, games, or artists,” he said. “After that, I expanded the themes to anything else that seemed interesting and inspired genuine enthusiasm, like historic events, science themes, stories from mythology, and much more, including the challenge of additional constraints [such as Scrabblegram haiku, visual constraints like shaping the letters into a diamond or an hourglass, and others]. Following that, I had a period where I began creating entries that were themselves prose or poetry, or about more abstract or philosophical topics – while continuing to make fun and silly ones too.”

The Scrabblegrams take time and labour to make. “Originally, each would take about six to 10 hours to make. Now, nearly three years and more than 370 entries later, they usually take about three to five hours each. A handful have required fewer than two hours, while some of the most difficult ones [often with additional constraints] have taken more than 20 hours to make.”

Cohen is an internal medicine physician. He has been working nights exclusively for more than 20 years. “Several years ago, I was able to switch to part-time, which has freed up more time for family and outside interests like Scrabblegramming. Also, because I’m an extreme night owl and keep that schedule even when I’m not working, I often have some free time each night after everyone else goes to sleep. That’s when I’ve done most of my wordplay these past few years,” he said.

“In our family, we’re all pretty good about encouraging and celebrating each other’s authentic interests in whatever unusual form they take. I always make sure to fulfil all my responsibilities to work and family first, so if I want to spend my free time doing weirdo wordplay, everyone is okay with that. As a dad, I think it’s important to continue to engage in enthusiasm-based activities and creative pursuits, even – or maybe especially – as I get older,” he said.

Cohen has also made a few Jewish-themed Scrabblegrams.

“The daily Twitter project has been wonderful for sparking new ideas. Contributors have proposed some great monthly challenge themes, and for many months, the unassigned dates on the calendar would prompt me to research historic events or national days, and I have often created new entries based on those ideas.”

Dave’s Scrabblegrams has created a unique Twitter community. Fans interact with his posts, and some submit Scrabblegrams of their own. Said Cohen, “I love the positivity and creativity. I genuinely appreciate the comments. They often make my day. The group is playful, fun, and quirky. Every day I’m inspired by the creativity of this kind-hearted and supportive community, including the Scrabblegrams they’ve been making. With the 100 Scrabble tiles, you can say almost anything, but not easily. It’s a nearly perfect balance of letters to play with.”

  • Cohen’s full collection can be seen at, and you can join in the daily fun by following @dc_scrabblegram on Twitter.

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