Over the course of my career I’ve never considered myself a poet. Yet, I’m a word nerd, a lover of the perfect phrase, a disciple of the notion that beautiful words make a difference in our lives—even if I’ve spent the majority of my career writing in areas where words are prized for utility over artistic appeal. Maybe that’s why when my editor recently requested an article on how to write “found” poetry, I started thinking about this Weekend Assignment.
What is found poetry?
In a nutshell, found poetry is made by lifting words and phrases from a published work and arranging them into a poem. (True diehards will insist that the order of the words and phrases remain unchanged, particularly in “blackout” poems. Longtime followers may remember this Weekend Assignment on Blackout Poetry.)
Any text can hide a poem
Where can you look for a poem? Anywhere there are words — Wikipedia, the nightly news, Harry Potter. Verbatim, a blog of found poetry, offers plenty of examples of places where poets have uncovered their treasure, along with the resulting poems. A willingness to search and sort and sift is the key criteria.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this weekend, I am encouraging you to start your very own treasure hunt. Search your favorite book, the local news, or even junk mail for words and phrases to remake into poetic works of your own.
I’m no poet! Why should I do this?
Ah, Grasshopper, good question. Even if you have no poetic aspirations, I promise this will not be a wasted exercise. In fact, even if you never do a thing with the poem you construct, you will have indulged your muse in a brain-bending mental workout that will change how you view your word choices. Give it a try and see for yourself.
*Image credit: Magnifying Glass by Tall Chris via Flickr (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)