Penn & Pencil members recently embarked
on a writing project recommended by
Pat Green, one of our poets. The project,
called "'found' poetry," is an exercise in creativity and discipline. Pat's
description of "found" poetry follows, as do several of her "found" poems.
"Found" poetry refers to the discovery of an original poem within an already
existing written work. The poet "finds" selected words within a document,
takes them out of their original context, and rearranges them according
to some method, thus creating a poem with a unique meaning of its own. Found
poetry has been known to arise from literature, but also from newspapers,
advertisements, slogans, court documents, and virtually anywhere words appear.
In "finding" poetry within a written work, some poets choose words in a
particular pattern, for example, every twentieth word on a page. Other writers
of found poetry combine the beginning of one sentence with the end of another.
Words can even be selected randomly, by pointing to a word on a page with
eyes closed, or the poet may choose whatever words have particular appeal.
Some have been known to use elaborate algorithms for determining what words
they will use.
One main characteristic of this form of poetry is that there is some constraint
on the writing process. The poet is not entirely free to select his/her
words, but has a limited universe of words from which to choose. The language
may involve a vocabulary that the poet would not normally use, forcing the
writer into a new realm of words and ideas. This experimentation with language
can produce unexpected and startling results. Found poetry can be a group
collaboration, with each person contributing a single word or single line
to a poem (with or without knowing what their fellow collaborators have
written) and the lines arranged in a specified order. The writers may or
may not know the subject of their poem. A subject may be assigned beforehand,
or it may be discovered once the poem is assembled.
and One Night Stand, by Pat Green