Poetry Prompt: Dissonance


This post is part of a series of weekly found poetry prompts. If you have an idea for a found poetry source, email Senior Poetry Editor Beth Ayer. Photo by George Rex.  

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

When evaluating found poetry submissions we receive, one of the most key qualities we look for is originality. (Wait…what?). Yes. We publish poems that represent a significant transformation of their source text(s), and generally look for the poem’s meaning to differ from that of the source. In light of the release of over 700 free books through the University of California Press e-books collection, I thought we’d try a little experiment:

  1. Select two books from the collection. Choose any two, but consider choosing titles from different genres.
  2. Designate one book as your poem subject. Designate the second book as your poem source text.
  3. Write a poem with subject matter drawing from book one using words taken from book two.

Have fun! We love to see what you come up with, so please do share in the comments along with any other reactions you have to this prompt.