“Hello! What can I write you a poem about?”
A lot my poems are written for guests at events.
I ask for a topic and get a response:
“Can you write me something about hope?”
Then, boom! I write their poem in 1-2 minutes.
On a typewriter, while they watch.
The response is often smiles, high-fives, even hugs and tears —
I’ve written over 20,000 poems like that.
At events from Maine to Mexico, Seattle to San Antonio.
Even for a few celebrities:
Here’s a nice short video by Texas Country Reporter:
A favorite moment? Rockstar poet Naomi Shihab Nye read one of mine to thousands of folks at the Sun Valley Writers Conference!
I’ve also had poems featured in magazines like Texas Observer and anthologies like Dear Vaccine, and I do weekly radio poems for Austin’s NPR station, as a founder of the Typewriter Rodeo poetry group.
Poetry Tips & Tools
More on-the-spot poetry moments:
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
At the Austin Maker Faire, a man came up for a poem and said: “My partner wants to have kids, I don’t. We’ve been together eight years, but now we’re splitting up. Nothing’s wrong, we just . . . can you put that in a poem?”
When I finished, I snapped a photo of the poem and handed it over. The poetry line was long so I went right to the next person; like so many personal poems, I never got to see him read it, never saw him again.
On a sunny morning at the West Seattle Farmers Market, a young girl walked by with her parents. Her mom stopped and told the girl to get a poem. The girl was suuuuuuuper shy, kind of hiding beside her mom and eating an ice cream cone so she wouldn’t have to talk.
“How about a poem about you—about Lili?” her mom asked her.
“She was named after the flower,” her mom told me. Lili kept eating her ice cream, smiling but not speaking.
“Would you like a poem?” I asked Lili. She took another bite of ice cream, then nodded.
“What would you like it to be about?” I asked. Nothing. “Would you like it to be about Lili?”
More ice cream eating, smiling at the ground, then Lili finally looked up — and nodded again.