Found poetry is the literary version of a collage. Poets select a source of text or texts – anything from traditional texts like books, magazines and newspapers to more traditional sources like product packaging, junk mail or court transcripts – then excerpt words and phrases from the text to create a new pieceFound Poetry Review web-site
In an inspired moment driven by one of our ingenious members, our writer’s group celebrated “April is Poetry month” with a playful activity to create found and blackout poetry. Using aging books that eventually would find a resting place in a recycling bin, we cut, glued, and redacted words with a black Sharpie pen and emerged with new creations. Fascinating. Fun. Stimulating. And in the creative spirit of our writers group, affirming our quest to be open to whatever the muse provides.
Intrigued by both the process and the results, I began to search the internet to see what I could learn about found poetry. It is a thing. Has been since the 1760’s when Benjamin Franklin’s neighbour was inspired to create fiction from the news broad prints of the day. Annie Dillard has done it. William Burroughs was quoted about his passion for it. Austin Kleon published a book of poems, “Newspaper Black Out” and performed a Ted Talk about the subject.
From 2011 – 2016, The Found Poetry Review, a literary magazine published hundreds of found poems as well as articles on the craft of found poetry. Teachers around the world use the techniques to share the possibilities of poetry and creative writing with students. And many writers use these and other techniques to springboard writing when stuck. I subscribe to the theory that writer’s need to practice and warm up prior to producing anything worth moving forward.
So this fits perfectly into that tool kit of ideas you may wish to draw upon when stuck, discouraged, or simply want to become primed for words to begin to flow when you sit in front of your computer or pick up your pen and put it to paper. Bonus – it is also perfect for anyone who doesn’t take the time to play enough in their day to day lives. Warning though, you may become so immersed that time flies right by.
Here is the poem that I created from the random page selected for this exercise:
hopelessness covered most of the night
fear would reveal nothing
it quivered, heavy, breathless,
in light of the morning
rose like a miracle.
Take some time this month to celebrate the poets in your life!
Stay healthy and safe!