Poetry Prompt: Fifty Years of Headlines

New York Review of Books

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


The New York Review of Books has posted a selection of headlines culled from more than 19,000 articles published by the Review over the past fifty years. From greetings to exclamations to farewells and “strange cases,” NYRB headlines have covered a lot of ground. Matthew Howard, Director of Electronic Publishing for the Review, categorizes the selected headlines and in doing so captures a fascinating condensation of the publication’s particular style:

“He”—who’s he? or she? One of the Review’s distinctive headline constructions has been what might be called the Pronoun with Indeterminate Antecedent. Was He Peeking? Did He Goof? She Was from Seattle. He Had His Ups and Downs.They Never Met. What Did He Really Think About Race? He Knew Manet. She Was His Concubine. They Didn’t Use Animals. They’d Much Rather Be Rich.They’re Taking Over!

Naturally, the resulting list provides good fodder for found poetry. Try it out: this weekend, create a found poem by mixing together the headlines listed in the New York Review of Books blog post. Please share what you come up with. Thanks to our own Martin Elwell for this great find.

Above image is from the New York Review of Books blog. 

1 Comment

  • October 5, 2013

    George McKim

    Dear Delmore,

    Darling, They’re Quoting Our Poem
    Surprise, Surprise

    What Happened in the Sixties?
    What Happened to the Revolution?
    Who Took This Photograph?
    How’s your Gestalt?

    The Man Who Wasn’t There
    The Man in the Otter Collar
    They Shined Together
    They Were in New York
    They Ate Their Sleep

    It Wasn’t 1984
    It Wasn’t Them
    It Was September
    It Was Anna’s Diary

    We Unhappy Few
    We Are All Murderers
    We Won’t Go

    Goodbye, Hitler
    Goodbye, Columbus
    Goodbye to Berlin
    Goodbye to the Bison

    Goodbye to All That