Using Found Poetry as a Fun New Way to Express Your Writing
Everyone experiences writing dry spells from time to time. It sometimes feels like we are searching the confines of our minds for creativity and inspiration, but maybe our next muse is just waiting to be found in the books, magazines, and written words surrounding us. Maybe your next great poem is a piece of found poetry.
What Is Found Poetry?
My favorite description of found poetry is from poets.org, which describes it as “the literary equivalent of a collage.” Found poems get their framework from other sources, such as books, magazines, and articles. Words and paragraphs from these sources are used to create a whole new poetic work. This is a wonderful creative exercise for writers, as it challenges you to view a preexisting page of words with new eyes. It’s also a great practice for anyone experiencing writer’s block, as the existing words on the page may be a catalyst for inspiration.
Found poetry serves as a foundation for other forms of poetry, like blackout (“redacted”) poetry and erasure poetry. These each have subtle differences as to how they go about reframing the words from their original sources. Blackout poetry will use a marker to redact words, and the remaining words will serve as the poem. Erasure poetry erases the words to create the new poetic work.
Found poetry gives you the freedom to explore different forms and structures. Some found poems leave the words where they are on the page or create a pattern or picture out of them. Other found poems take the words and create structured stanzas or lines as they see fit. Some even cut out words to create a collage.
For more examples of found poetry, check out The Art Journalist’s beautiful collection for inspiration.
Why Should I Try It?
Found poetry is an exciting way to interact with existing texts. You can choose a text at random, like an old magazine article, or you can very intentionally select a favorite writer or book. You can also bring an idea or a prompt to the page you choose. As you read your chosen page, think about which words feel the most powerful and how they can be restructured to create something entirely new.
An added bonus of found poetry is that it serves as a creative outlet. Remember creating collages or vision boards in the past? Reengage with that practice by repurposing it for writing poetry. Adding this type of dimension to your writing can help reignite and engage your heart. It also adds a community component if you decide to try this activity with fellow writers, friends, or even children
When we experiment with new ways of writing, creating, and imagining, it helps us renew our poetic perspective. Found poetry gives us an opportunity to see potential and possibility for new poems all around us. Whether we are feeling blocked or just desiring to connect with words in a new way, found poetry is a great place to start.