Found Poetry Prompt: The Automatic Pistol


Project Gutenberg (a catalog of over 42,000 free ebooks) is a natural resource for found poetry source material. For today’s prompt, we used the random search option and discovered Automatic Pistol Shooting (1915) by Walter Winans. Winans boasts a list of achievements, including Chevalier of the Imperial Russian Order of St. Stanislaus, Olympic Champion for Double-Rifle Shooting in 1908, and One Year Duelling [sic] Pistol Champion at Gastinne-Renette’s, Paris.

In Automatic Pistol Shooting, Winan set out to review updates, safety concerns and safety improvements to the 1915 automatic pistol, but also covers “shooting off horseback,” shooting in the dark, shooting in self defense, dueling and more. This weekend, try creating a found poem using Chapter 14, “Duelling,” as source material, or browse the book. Preview Chapter 14 below.


CHAPTER XIV (excerpt)


THE mere word duelling appears to shallow minds a subject for so-called “humour,” like mothers-in-law and cats, but a moment’s thought will show that, in certain circumstances, the duel forms the only possible solution to a difficulty. And it is not an unmixed blessing that duelling is abolished in England as “Vanoc” in The Referee truly says. “For some reasons,” he writes, “the abolition of duelling [he means in England] is a mistake. Insolent and offensive language is now too frequently indulged in with impunity…. The best rule of all is never to take liberties yourself, and never to allow liberties to be taken with you, and to remember that self-defence is still the noble art.”

I think, though, that the still nobler art is the defence of others, and there are cases—which need not be gone into here—when a man must fight.

One of the reasons for this “humorous” attitude in the English mind (it does not exist abroad) is because sometimes abroad young men, wishing to advertise themselves, or their political ideas, fight duels, all the time never intending to hit each other, and in fact intentionally firing in the air.

When two good shots “mean business,” a pistol duel is a very deadly affair, as is shown by the number of men who have been killed in them.

Copyright, 1915

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

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