On-the-Spot Poems

What's an on-the-spot poem?

It’s when someone walks up & gives me a topic: “Can you write something about new beginnings?”

Then in 2-3 minutes I give them a poem — made up, then & there, on my typewriter. Here’s what it looks like in action:


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

I’ve gotten to write over 15,000 on-the-spot poems from Maine to Mexico, kids age 5 to 95, even a few celebrities:

Most poems I never see again, but a handful find their way back. People tell me the poems are tacked to bedroom walls for inspiration … or tucked in a pocket for solace at a funeral … or kept in a car as a road trip companion.

I love the idea that thousands of physical, hand-typed poems are out there, somewhere, in people’s lives.

Below are a few favorites:


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


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


Nature is always a favorite topic. This was for a kid at Metz Elementary school in Austin.