Thursday Thoughts: Literary Mad Libs

24 Feb

8:00 am, Thursday = Atlanta

Nouns and verbs: The strongest parts of speech in the English language. But, before I get into how they work and why, I want you to engage in an exercise. You will need paper and something to write with and, once done, you will need to hold onto it until next Thursday.

from wikipedia


First, nouns. If you played Mad Libs as a child you are already excited; if you didn’t, here’s your chance. I have taken a poem and with apologies to its author, removed as many specific nouns as possible and replaced them with vague, general nouns. As you read through the poem, see how much of a picture you get and whether the poem holds any interest. I do ask that if you think you know the poem, please do not Google it. Let me show you the poem next week to make my point.

adapted poem

Boat of some city from a distant land
Rowing home to haven in a sunny country,
With a cargo of precious material,
And animals and birds,
wood, more wood, and sweet drink.

Stately national boat coming from some waterway,
Dipping through the Tropics by the colourful shores,
With a cargo of gems,
jewels, precious stones,
semi-precious stones, and spices, and metal things.

Dirty national boat with a salt-caked smokestack
Butting through the waterway in the mad days of some month,
With a cargo of county mineral,
Road-rails, metal,
Firewood, metal-ware, and cheap metal trays.

Your job, should you decide to take it on, is to fill in the blanks of the template poem below, following the numbered instructions.

Fill in the Blanks

____1_____of_____2_____ from distant _____3_____
Rowing home to haven in sunny _____4_______,
With a cargo of ____5____,
And ____6_____ and ______7_____,
______8_______, ______9_____, and sweet ____10______.

Stately _11a____   ___11b_____ coming from the ____12______,
Dipping through the Tropics by the ____13_______ shores,
With a cargo of _____14_______,
____15_______, _____16_________,
_____17________, and _____18_______, and ___19a ___  __19b____.

Dirty ___20a_____  ___20b____ with a salt-caked smokestack
Butting through the _____21_______ in the mad ____22_______ days,
With a cargo of _____23_______   _____24______,
Road-rails, _____25__________,
Firewood, ____26______-ware, and cheap _____27_______ trays.

Mad Libs

from ocal

1 name a type of boat    2 name a city   3 name a distant land [from wherever you are]
4 name a country
5 name a precious material
6 name an animal   7 name a bird
8 name a type of wood   9 name another wood   10 name a sweet drink

from ocal

11a name a second country but as an appositive – English, Chinese    11b name a type of boat
12 name a waterway
13 adjective
14 name a gemstone
15 name another gemstone,   16 name a third gemstone,
17 name a fourth gemstone,   18 name a spice,    19a name a precious metal   19b name a type of coin.

from library of congress

20a name a third country, again as an appositive    20b name a type of boat
21 name a type of waterway   22 name a month
23 name an English county   24 name  a type of mineral
25 name a type of metal
26 name a type of metal    27 name a type of metal


You may certainly Google English counties, boat types, or anything else your brain has difficulty kicking up. Rope a friend into doing this with you. Mad Libs are always more fun with another person. Read your results to each other. Send me a link to your result if you want to share it. Then, sit back and wait for next Thursday. Oh, and don’t worry overly about sense.

See you tomorrow for this week’s roundup of prompts and exercises.


Posted by on 24/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: Literary Mad Libs

  1. Music&Meaning

    24/02/2011 at 2:01 pm

    i’m tempted to try this…you never know… RT

  2. margo roby

    24/02/2011 at 2:08 pm

    You never do, do you. Poems come from the strangest places sometimes.

  3. Rene Foran

    24/02/2011 at 9:23 pm

    I think I’m going to try this with my kid…it’ll be interesting 🙂

    • margo roby

      24/02/2011 at 9:24 pm

      Neat. I would think that would make it both fun and interesting as an exercise.


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