How to make a four-piece poetry puzzle

My girl came home from nursery this week with a puzzle she had painted. As I matched up the colourful swirls, I thought the whole thing was such a lovely idea that I felt inspired to make my own – except mine would use words. It would be a poetry puzzle.

A pink rectangle of paper, with post-modern splashes of dark pink, green, blue. The nursery could have easily left it at that. My daughter would have brought her painting home, and I would have eventually filed it in a folder with all her other, similar paintings. But someone had decided to cut the picture into four and to laminate each piece. Suddenly, it was a piece of artwork and also a game.

Puzzle painting: green, blue and pink swirls on pink paper

Immediately, I found myself wanting to create my own – a poetry puzzle. And I wanted the pieces to be able to fit together in lots of different combinations. Each combination would give a slightly different experience.

Bringing the poetry puzzle to life

Using my little girl as inspiration I began to jot down ideas. I had the image of an underwater seascape in my mind. And, intermingled with it, was the memory of waiting for my daughter to be born (She was two weeks late, so I was induced – a long process with some heart-stopping moments). Phrases flowed into my notebook and soon I was arranging them into blocks of text.

My plan was to have four puzzle pieces, with four lines of writing on each. Cutting a sheet of paper into quarters, I began filling out my pieces. By moving them around to create different combinations, I could see which lines flowed and which needed to be tweaked or rewritten.

Things to consider…

  • Each phrase had to be able to work as the beginning and the end of a line. So I tried to pick phrases that captured a single thought or image (I also steered clear of punctuation, for ease). In my final version, some line combinations work better than others I think!
  • Each puzzle piece also needed to work alone. This would allow my puzzle to make some sense even if all the pieces where placed in a line, whether vertically or horizontally. To achieve this, the phrases within each individual block of text had to flow – at least in a general way.

The result:

Four piece poetry puzzle words on white paper against wood table

I searched for you
hidden from the world
a pearl inside its shell
expectant, insistent

scouring the ocean floor
you are so precious to me
waiting for your release
the pregnant pause

like a dream I once had
I dive down to meet you
I crave the sight of you
soon my heart will sing

shimmering inside me
imagined a thousand times
everything stops
I must be strong


Do you like the idea of a poetry puzzle? Give it a try! Or check out the writing ideas section of this blog for more inspiration.

2 thoughts on “How to make a four-piece poetry puzzle

  1. This is excellent and feeds into my workshops about to restart through Lapidus Scotland where we learn how to make art the we write. One of the mediums I use is encaustic art this would be good to use for this puzzle. Thanks for passing on.
    Janie walker
    Lapidus Scotland Chair

    1. Thanks Janie, glad you like it. I’ve been finding out more about encaustic art – looks beautiful, and so much fun! Something I’d like to try. Hope the workshops are going well.

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