• Mike S.

Looking for Something to Do? Create a Found Poem

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

Leah Umansky writes about found poems in a June New York Times article called "Find Poetry in the Pages of a Newspaper." "A poem," she says, "is an experience . . . a grouping of words that makes the reader feel something." True enough. There are no rules for found poems, she continues. They're about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

During this time of the pandemic, many, especially children, seek something to fill the time. Though the school year may start soon to help fill that time, there's a good chance that it may not, or that if it does, it will be in drastically altered form. Adults, too, may find this new isolation in their lives, if not troubling, then possibly subdued, almost too quiet. What to do? Engage in a poetic form called found poems. It could become a worthwhile family activity. Is it plagiarism? Not really, especially if you credit your sources.

One version of a found poem uses individual words snipped from a newspaper (or other periodical), then arranges and pastes them in such a way as to create a poem. Another version uses the titles of books on book spines (known as book spine poetry), stacked on top of one another, to create a poem. Still another uses circled, individual words in a piece of text, say a novel or piece of nonfiction, to create a poem. These are ways to find, or "borrow," the words that one can use to create poetry. More and other possibilities abound.

Looking for something to entertain the kids or, perhaps, even yourself? Try creating a found poem.

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