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.

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

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to write over 20,000 poems from Maine to Mexico, kids age 5 to 95, even a few celebrities:

Most I never see again, but a handful find their way back.

People have sent me stories & photos of poems tacked to bedroom walls for inspiration … 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, having a meaningful place in people’s lives.

Poems and physical connection matter more than ever.

A few of my favorites:

GUESS WHAT?

At the West Seattle Farmers Market, two couples were nearby. Couple #1 leaned in & 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 Washington, D.C. Antiquarian Book Fair, a boy wanted a poem on “zombies & music!” Of course! 🧟

THE FOREST

Nature is always a favorite. This was for a girl at Austin’s Metz Elementary.