Finders Keepers: Poem in C


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


I know most of you utilize found language to create poetry, but what about the language you appropriate without even realizing you’re doing it? Do you have Cryptomnesia?

Much of what a writer knows, particularly discourse and sociocultural knowledge, exists only in tacit form. For example, sentence patterns as well as cultural beliefs are shared by members of the same discourse community and are drawn upon freely by all, without conscious awareness. The same sort of unconscious copying may also occur with specific sentences, facts, and arguments — forms of domain-specific knowledge. When it does, however, the author is subject to the charge of plagiarism… [Cryptomnesia] can lead to inadvertent plagiarism if a writer fails to acknowledge unwittingly an earlier source due to the failure to recognize his or her own thoughts and words as unoriginal.

Computational Criticism

ComputationIf you like data as much as I do, you might like the idea of analyzing hundreds or thousands of pieces of literature simultaneously using data and text analytics. It just may be the key to understanding the “unread” literature of our past.

The basic idea in Moretti’s work is that, if you really want to understand literature, you can’t just read a few books or poems over and over (“Hamlet,” “Anna Karenina,” “The Waste Land”). Instead, you have to work with hundreds or even thousands of texts at a time. By turning those books into data, and analyzing that data, you can discover facts about literature in general—facts that are true not just about a small number of canonized works but about what the critic Margaret Cohen has called the “Great Unread.”

Collage Creator

Here’s a tool that will help you rearrange the lines of a poem. It’s a great revision tool, and may help with a cento or two.

Enter your poem and click Generate. Poem Collage will generate your poem as a series of draggable lines. Rearrange the lines to form a new poem.

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