Finders Keepers: Recycle, Reuse, Rerun

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The First Found Epic Poem?

Black Sparrow Books has made Charles Reznikoff’s “brutal American epic” available for the first time since 1978, and “complete in one volume for the first time ever.” In his article for the New York Review of Books, Charles Simic calls Testimony “the first found epic poem.” Reznikoff began working on Testimony in the 1930s, pulling language from thousands of pages of court documents telling the stories of cases from all over the United States.

Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic. Reznikoff shares with Whitman a sympathy for the underdog, a desire to convey just how hard the lives of many Americans are… It should not be surprising that Testimony is rarely assigned at our colleges and universities these days; it causes too much discomfort to those who prefer to know nothing about what goes on in the world. This may be precisely what Reznikoff intended with a book like this. Let whoever reads it be upset. —Charles Simic

Quiz: Poet or Bot?

Bot or Not, the self-proclaimed Turing test for poetry, poses a unique challenge to readers: Can you tell the difference between a poem written by a computer and a poem written by a human? Oscar Schwartz and Benjamin Laird developed Bot or Not, and Buzzfeed recently featured the quiz on their site.

Poetry in Craigslist Missed Connections

We’ve seen our fair share of found poems sourced from Craigslist. Our submission pool is full of them. But Craiglist poetry has another meaning too: the poets of Craigslist turn Missed Connections posts into poems, using the classified forum “as a publishing platform for poetry, romantic prose, and cryptic messages about relationships and sex.”

The Ground I Stand On Is Not My Ground

Erasure poetry naturally intersects poetry and visual art. Published by Drunken Boat Media, The Ground I Stand On Is Not My Ground by Collier Nogues exemplifies the potential in this area. The book’s companion website is a must-see. The book is a collection of erasures of historical documents related to the aftermath of the Pacific War on the island of Okinawa. The website provides an alternative reading experience:

As you move your finger (on a touchscreen device) or a mouse (on a conventional computer) from line to line of the poem, the original document’s erased text will reappear, then fade out again. Each poem’s original document can be reached through a link at the bottom of the poem’s page.


Photo by Kevin Dooley

1 Comment

  • September 26, 2015

    Glenn Ingersoll

    Big fan of Reznikoff and glad more of his work is in print. That said, “Testimony” can be a tough read, not because there is anything difficult about the writing but because, well, it’s bad things happening to people in poem after poem after poem.