Poetry Studio

FOUND POEMS

Found poetry encourages us to look for poetry in places where we would not ordinarily expect to find it. According to poet Georgia Heard, creating a found poem sharpens the poet's vision by seeing that poetry is everywhere and having the ability to find it (p.6). Poet David Harrison defines found poems as those in which a "poet takes an existing text and refashions the words and presents them as poems."

Certain rules apply when writing a found poem:

  • The original text is not poetry.
  • The words in the poem remain in the order as they appear in the original text.
  • The poet may delete words, but may not add words.
  • The poet decides on line breaks and a title (if desired).
  • In order for the found poem to flow more smoothly, the poet may change tenses and/or plurals.

Original texts may be found just about everywhere. Possibilities include: signs, magazines and newspapers, textbooks, library books, letters and e-mails, food containers, the dictionary, notes, social media, cards, bulletin boards, graffiti--the list is endless.

What students will find challenging is that there is more to writing found poems than keeping some words, deleting others, and arranging the text with line breaks. Poems have rhythm and the "sound" of poetry. Heard's book, The Arrow Finds Its Mark, is an anthology of found poems by well-known poets in the field of children's literature and provides many examples of the form.

When students write found poetry, they must cite the original source.

References:
Harrison, David. Blog, July 12, 2010.
Heard, Georgia. The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems. Illus. by Antoine Guilloppé. Roaring Brook, 2012.

Page last updated 03/27/16

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