Finders Keepers: Off to a Good Start

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By News & Resources Editor Martin Elwell. Send me your found poetry news.


The first few weeks of 2015 have come along with an unusually high volume of found poetry news. A sign of good things to come? I think so!

Educating with Found Poetry

The_Little_TeacherI enjoy reading about and sharing examples of found poetry used in the classroom as a method of introducing young writers to the art of poetry. Despite being a newer and sometimes experimental method for creating poetry, these classroom examples also show that using found language to create poetry is also elemental to the craft. Here are a few examples:

South Delta Artists Guild brings found poetry and painting together.

Madison Public Library features blackout poetry by local teens.

Chattanooga Young Writers Conference includes session on found poetry.

New Life

I also came across reviews of two new collections employing found poetry to give old subjects new life at opposing corners of the English-speaking world:

In her collection The Hard Word BoxSarah Hesketh uses found and overheard language from her residency at the Preston Care Home in Lancashire, U.K. to create poetry addressing the challenges of aging and dementia.

Vancouver, B.C. writer and poet Alex Leslie deconstructs prose by blacking out words and whittling down to often very small poems in the book The Things I Heard About You:

What if a poem started off as prose, then disappeared on you? In Alex Leslie’s new collection, The Things I Heard About You, poems do many unexpected things — sometimes they distill, sometimes propagate, other times reconfigure and reinvent themselves. Each starts by being a longer unit, some almost short stories, then proceeds to transform into a shorter version, followed by an even smaller one, to finally end up as just one to a few words.

How to Write a Poem

Need more proof that creating with found language is core to the craft of poetry, check out A guide on how to write a poem by Tim Kelly of Coventry University:

There are many ways of getting going. Some exercises we use in creative writing classes will give you a much easier start. My colleague Alyson Morris begins with “found poetry” – taking newspaper articles and having students turn them into poems by reworking the spacing and lines. I use a similar process, though this self-generated by students, in which they write prose rants and then forge them into “angry poems”. Why not try this yourself?

Be Prepared!

PoMoScoI’m getting excited for FPR’s 2015 National Poetry Month project PoMoSco! Want to experiment with new methods of writing, hone your skills, expand your community and write new poems? Get involved here!

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