Poetry Prompt: The New Yorker Archives


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

The New Yorker is opening its archive for the summer (and into the fall), and releasing a featured collection of articles each Monday. Says The New Yorker:

We’ve also asked our writers to name some of their favorite stories, and we’ll be sharing those as well. If you follow The New Yorker on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll learn about a new archive piece each day (and about new pieces as they’re published). All of these stories, whether they’re from the thirties or the eighties, are being presented in a new, streamlined format that’s a pleasure to read.

Read more about the concept behind the summer archive here.

Prompt: Have at it.


  • August 10, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    An Erasure poem. Found in the article ‘Color Vision’, Ntozake Shange’s outspoken art. By Hilton Als. The New Yorker, November 8, 2010 Issue.



    watching the
    days of

    She wrote…
    “All I had to do
    – attempted suicide –
    head in an oven,
    drinking chemicals,
    slashing wrist,
    O.D.ing on Valium,
    and driving a car into the ocean.

    Gargantuan theatricality
    to hide her ‘real’ self.


  • August 12, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    An Erasure poem. Found in the article ‘Tune In Next Week’
    By Emily Nussbaum. The New Yorker, July 23, 2012 Issue.


    What Happens Next?

    A story told in this manner:
    seasons marked by incidents;
    action-packed days fall off a cliff.

    Free ourselves
    of the shackles of storytelling,
    the pleasurable shocks of “junk” genres.

    Emphasizing luminous myths,
    a reaction to the advent of reality;
    challenging, tangled, ambitious serial narrative.

    Dramas, comedies
    satirized cliffhangers,
    elements of a primal cinematic universe.

    Welled up with meaning,
    “well, really, it’s just a well-made soap opera.”
    the creepy manipulation by a storyteller
    who has run out of tricks.