Writing Prompt #1 – The Found Poem

June 23, 2010

in Confessions,Lifestyle

Summer has arrived and the landscape is in full bloom. We celebrate our mothers and spring clean. This spirit of renewal and beginning will guide us through the poetic challenge of the found poem.

Looking into my garden adjacent to the back porch, looking at my sons, or looking at anything that grows, I am struck by one commonality. Each of thee things must begin with something already in existence. A flower begins with a seed or bulb. A child begins with his mother and father. A poem is no different. A poem must begin with something already in existence. A poem must begin with an idea, a vision, or at least a desire to write.

For this writing challenge we are going to begin writing a poem by using something already in existence. First, grab a stack of reading materials you don’t mind cutting up. Find magazines, old books, junk mail, the newspaper, a restaurant menu, anything with words. Collect some art supplies you probably have around the house: scissors, blank white paper or colored construction paper, and glue or double stick tape. Now, we can begin.

The Found Poem

A found poem is a poem created entirely from other reading materials. You can even use other poems. The goal is to take a hodgepodge of clippings and turn them into a poem that makes sense.

You do not need to start with an idea, and it is better if you don’t. However, having a theme in mind is alright. You may choose to find ideas related to spring or your mother. Begin by scanning through your gathered reading materials. Don’t read them, scan them. Look for words or phrases that stand out to you, grab your attention. Cut them out and out them into a pile. Don’t worry if they relate to other clippings or not. Just look for words of interest.

When you have a good mess going and a large pile of clippings, begin to sort them. Try to make some sense out of the chaos you have created. As you find an order for the clippings, glue them onto a piece of paper. You are creating a poem from already existing materials.

Found poems are wonderful for those days when inspiration and ideas are sparse. They are also a good way to get children interested in poetry as it is a hands on project. Don’t worry about making the poem perfect on the first try. You can always revise later.

When you are done, leave a link to your poem or post it in the comments. I can’t wait to read what you have found!

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