Stephin Merritt has a way with words, and not just because he’s the lead singer of acclaimed indie-pop band The Magnetic Fields. A Scrabble nut, Merritt, 49, has a new book of poems, 101 Two Letter Words (W.W. Norton & Company), to help you memorize each of the two-letter words in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary — from easy (hi) to obscure (xu). Merritt shares what he’s learned from his adventures in wordplay.
? The letters you leave yourself should always have one consonant and one vowel.
? I like the rules the way they are. I never cheat.
? Study the words that contain “q” without “u.” There’s not that many of them.
? The best music for Scrabble is something everybody likes, like Fifth Dimension or Dionne Warwick.
? I refuse to play people who are too challenging for me. I declined Jason Keller, a [nine-time] Jeopardy champion.
? I play the Words With Friends app and the Scrabble app, which is too buggy to let me finish a single game. I prefer the board game.
? Most of all, know your two-letter words! There’s 101 of them, and I could remember only 40, so I wrote this book — it’s like a gateway drug.