Author: Alysa Cummings
Posting Date: November 27, 2002
Last Modified: June 23, 2005
Instant fill in the blanks poetry. How does it work? Well, first you point and click with your mouse, and then you type words and phrases into the open squares on the form. With one more quick click on the button below the form, like magic, all the words come together. Like pieces of a puzzle, a finished poem now appears on the screen. Print out your piece if you choose to. Or copy and paste it into a word processing document for revising at a later time. It's totally up to you. As the writer, you are in complete control. A link to a sample "completed" poem appears at the top of the page merely to give the poet a sense of what the form might look like "filled in."
In case you're wondering, the inspiration for instant fill in the blanks poetry goes way back in time to a vivid preadolescent memory of mine: playing Mad Libs. Remember those pads that had stories with holes in them? (Give me a noun. I need a boy's name. Think of an adjective. Another verb with -ing, please). Among my friends, we took turns being the Mad Libs writer or the reader. The game typically ended with one of us reciting the now completed (usually embarrassing) story out loud.
Some fans of instant fill in the blanks poetry claim that it's less like Mad Libs and more reminiscent of diner placemats. Picture those oversized sheets of paper decorated with games and riddles and connect the dot problems and lots of other fill in the blanks activities. (Anybody got a pencil?) Maybe I'm not the only person who grew up enjoying that half hour of diner placemat wordplay between ordering from the gigantic restaurant menu and having the hot plate of food delivered to the table. But who can explain why those empty spaces on the diner placemats were so compelling and ultimately so satisfying to fill up with doodles and hastily scribbled rhymes?
My experiments with instant poetry, unscientific though they may be, suggest a strong possibility that lots of people have poems trapped inside them that have yet to see the light of day. Maybe, just maybe, completing some instant fill in the blanks poetry forms could set some of these poems free.
Can writing poetry really be this easy and fun? Why not? Some poetry loving folks can sometimes be stopped cold in their tracks by the terror of a blank page (or white computer screen with flashing cursor) staring back at them. Whatever tools a writer uses, low or high tech, it can sometimes be hard to get the creative process jumpstarted, to get the words flowing.
Now try adding the physical and emotional challenges of the cancer experience to the mix. Truth is, these instant fill in the blanks poetry pages were designed especially for cancer patients to support them during their journey from diagnosis through treatment and recuperation, eventually to a place of recovery. With a minimal amount of effort and energy, a poem will emerge; I promise you that. Another plus is that writing an instant poem about some aspect of a health crisis brings some immediate relief. It just feels so good to write it down and then look back at those feelings in black and white. As a cancer survivor myself, now happily celebrating year four N.E.D. this month, my hope is that these poem making activities that I created for my own diversion, "soul therapy" and creative expression, may be a source of insight and healing for cancer patients and caregivers alike. Please let me know how they work for you.