Inventing A New Poetry Form: ImproVerse Poetry

Modern technology allows (and sometimes forces) new styles of creativity in the written word. Previously, readers of this blog have been introduced to IMprov poetry (where the writing happens spontaneously during an Instant Messaging, or IM, chat session), and ConTEXTing poetry, where the writing occures within the 160 character limits of a phone text message.

Recent advances in cell phone voice recognition technology have lead to the discovery of a new poetry form:
ImproVerse Poetry.

Simply put, ImproVerse poetry is when the poet creates either an instant message or an email and, using the dictation function on the cell phone, speaks (improvs) a poem into the phone and sends it without editing. The rules for this form follow both the rules for IMprov poetry, in that the integrity of the rough idea of the verse needs to remain intact (thus the “Improv” part), and ConTEXTing poetry, in that the number of characters should not exceed the 160 character limits of a text message. (Although modern advances in cell phone technology do allow for more characters, the messages will still split. In order to maintain the look/feel of one piece, the writer should self-enforce those limits).

However, if the writer decides to create a longer piece, (a sonnet, or even free verse, for example) that exceeds those cell phone character limits, ImproVerse does allow for that choice. The main guiding factor behind the ImproVerse style is the ability to create and compose in an improvisational style, with minimum rework in the published piece.

It is important to note that ImproVerse DOES allow for some editing to take place. This can be for one of two reasons:
1) The editing helps the ImproVerse fit into some other form or style. For example, I may have thought I ImproVersed a haiku (5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables), only to discover that my last line had 6 syllables. The rules of ImproVerse allow me to correct that error.
2) More importantly, editing may happen because of technology errors. The dictation function on most cell phones (especially, Android users are quick to point out, on iPhones!) does not always capture the meaning. IF the writer can figure out what they meant in the first place, they are allowed to make those corrections to reflect the original meaning.

To show both forms of editing, for example, an ImproVerse I sent that says:
When you have a red top you could wave at the V formation of keys and hope they don’t Bottomview was edited both by shortening it AND by correcting the dictation errors, to read:

Having a ragtop/
lets you wave at the geese V,/
hoping they don’t bomb.

(I did some additional editing and created an even better haiku; you can see both here at

Hopefully, using technology to think creatively and capture creative thoughts will encourage more people to observe, think, capture and share their thoughts in a meaningful, creative and thought-provoking way to benefit us all.


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