On-the-Spot Poems

What's an on-the-spot poem?

Someone walks up & gives me a topic (“Can you write about my broken heart?”), and in 2-3 minutes I give back a gift — a poem spontaneously crafted just for them, on my 1928 Remington portable typewriter. Here’s what it looks like:

In this age of virtual communication, it’s a moment of face-to-face connection that I think we need more than ever.

People often respond with smiles and laughter — even hugs, high-fives, and tears:

I’ve written over 10,000 on-the-spot poems — both with Typewriter Rodeo and on my own — from Maine to Mexico, for kids age 5 to 95, even for some celebrities:

Most poems I never see again, but a handful find their way back. I’ve learned some are tacked to bedroom walls for inspiration … tucked in a pocket for solace at a funeral … kept in a car as a road trip companion.

I love the idea that thousands of physical, hand-typed poems are out there in the world, playing a meaningful role in people’s lives.

Below are a few of my recent favorites.

GUESS WHAT?

At the Farmers Market in West Seattle, two couples were nearby. Couple #1 leaned in and whispered: “Our friends don’t know we’re pregnant — can you write a poem to tell them?” The best part was watching the other couple read the poem and yell, “No way!”

“This was really incredible. And the poem was perfect – they wound up using it as their birth announcement on Facebook later in the day.” —James Frasca, poem requester

ZOMBIES & MUSIC

At the Antiquarian Book Fair in Washington, D.C., a little boy wanted a poem on “zombies and music!” Of course!

FOR AARON

After seeing our Typewriter Rodeo segment on Texas Country Reporter, Aaron asked for a poem: “Could you write about my daughter who passed 30 years ago of S.I.D.S.? I still cry.”