Instant Poems

What’s an instant poem?

It’s sitting at a typewriter with a sign that says FREE POEMS — any topic.

Someone gives a topic (“Freedom…”), then in 2-3 minutes I give back a gift — a poem spontaneously created just for them, on my 1928 Remington portable.

I’ve gotten to write over 10,000 instant poems at events all across the country, both with Typewriter Rodeo and on my own.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to craft poems from Maine to Mexico, Seattle to San Antonio, for celebrities and big-city mayors, kids age 5 to 95.

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

In this age of virtual communication and connection, it’s grounding and reassuring to think of thousands of physical, hand-typed poems scattered all over the world, playing a meaningful role in people’s lives.

Below are a couple 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

LETTING GO

This was at Interabang Books, a wonderful independent bookstore in Dallas. A woman said: “Can I have a poem about letting go?”

ZOMBIES & MUSIC

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