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Found poetry -- a Poetry Friday post

Here's a definition for you. After you read it, you must make a decision. Ready?

"Text discovered in a nonpoetic setting, removed from its context, and presented as a poem." That's from the poetry dictionary (2nd edition) by John Drury. Here's an example:

Found poem:
Text discovered
in a nonpoetic
setting removed
from its context
and presented
as a poem.

In the back of my trusty children's book (which I heartily recommend for anyone who wants to write using forms), A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B. Janeczko (go out and buy it already!!), the first lines of explanation echo my thoughts exactly:

"Some people will tell you that a found poem is not really a poem." Janeczko goes on to say that it's worth exploring nonetheless. It's taking someone else's words which were NEVER intended as poetry, and then arranging the words and phrases on the page in such a way as to make it seem like an actual poem.

If you choose to undertake the creation of a found poem as an exercise, I suggest that you find someone who writes beautiful and/or interesting sentences, as opposed to using something from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget report, although that would certainly prove a more, uh, challenging task.

A Kick in the Head includes a quasi-found poem by Georgia Heard called "The Paper Trail," in which she describes seeing slips of paper wafting to the ground on September 11, 2001, and includes descriptions and quotes from some of the pieces and scraps. This poem is not technically a found poem at all, but is an example of using pieces that were quite literally found on the street as a jumping off point to create another poem entirely.

For a more truly "found" poem, check out the one on The Poetry Page under "Found Poetry", where an article from the Toronto Sun about Kurt Browning's fall during the Olympics became a poem.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
I bought "A Kick in the Head" from the kid's book club this year! Here's one of Merry's poems--though honestly I can't remember if she wrote this before of after we got the book.

Blue Berry Muffins

By Merry Marrone


Oh, cooking is my favorite thing
Blue berry muffins, mix them up
Flour, eggs, milk and butter
Cinnamon and berries
Batter in the pan
In the oven
Tastes so good
Eat them

She's seven so if it doesn't match the nonet pattern I don't need to hear about it--she was really happy writing it!
Jul. 22nd, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
Of course, the "eat them up" part makes me think of the classic song "Fishheads"

Fishheads, fishheads, roly-poly fishheads
Fishheads, fishheads, eat them up, yum!
Jul. 22nd, 2006 12:09 am (UTC)
I haven't thought about that song in a looooooong time--but we used to sing that in High School--how sad is that. Although,recently the B-52's song Rock Lobster was on the radio and hubby and I were singing along and Max asks--"Is that a Wiggles song?"

As much as I wanted to protest I could kind of see his point.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Down, down, down . . . to the pit of despair that is my soul when the B-52's are compared to the Wiggles. Then again, when I hear Fred holler "Shake those Honey. Buns!" in Love Shack, I kind of see his point, too.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 12:16 am (UTC)
Seriously, couldn't you see the Wiggles covering a lot of the B-52's? My world is crashing around me.
Jul. 24th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
I have to admit liking some of that "found poetry" created in spam. I guess they are random phrases from "works" and you are (of course) right. It is the "beautifully written" that makes the difference.

I'm lazy,I have a (Arts) Festival programe on the desk, that should have a fairish turn of phrase
I'll choose phrases at will, in order, as I flick

A message
Raw random
From the dollhouse
If you have something substantial for breakfast
Anything is possible
Experience the sparkling for yourself

The most beautiful sound on earth
voices of love
The human voice
Songs about cricket
Breathless Hamlet in a dress

Pin back your ears
Black Dog shadow
Sleep on a volcano
Wake in Cloud Gate
Give thanks to the spirits
Sing them back to their resting place

Not great I like bits
will look for a kick in the head- I need one... er it :)

Jul. 24th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
I like some bits of that a lot -- although usually it's a particular turn of phrase, like "Breathless Hamlet in a dress". Still, well done!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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