{poetry 7: found poetry}

the poetry seven(Before I forget, birthday greetings to my eldest sister, who probably is not reading this, since she’s off work and sleeping in as she is every single birthday. No worries that she’s not going to party hearty. Anyway, many happy returns of the day, hen.)

Okay, yes, I admit it: every. single. poetic. form. I’m introduced to, every. single. time. I whine and say is the hardest, the most vexing, the worst. This one took me to the very, very edge of our deadline to do it, and while I got ‘er done, I still feel like I haven’t quite grasped what “Found Poetry” is all about. Logically, it’s little pieces from bigger ones. The American Academy of Poets calls it the literary equivalent of a collage, which might explain the problem I had with it. Collage is kind one of those art forms that… escapes me, even as it inspires myriad of other women to do things like vision boards (or action boards, as an article in Psychology Today says we’re supposed to regard them) and the like. I find it difficult to find meaning in disparate bits of flotsam and jetsam — which are only assigned meaning because I say they have meaning by putting them next to each other. I found this form – neurotic little rule-based me – too loose for comfort. What was my poem supposed to be about? What was I trying to say? And where should I look to find the means to say what I’m saying?

I went immediately to obvious word sources — long-winded car features in the newspaper, pressure cooker instructions, phone book ads, a workbook for the GRE. Nothing spoke to me. So, I tried to come up with at least a topic for my poem. One of the other Poetry Sisters was using instructions, and so I went to the Instructables website, which is where a great many of us find the how-to of life these days. Still nothing. And then I got distracted cleaning out my closet (because DUH, that has to do with poetry), and wondered if I could make a rug from some of the tech shirts Tech Boy gets by the armload from his company every year. No one wants commemorative shirts, and I can only reasonably use so many workout outfits. So… I did a little research and came up with some rug styles that seemed reasonably doable. One of them made me laugh enough that I kept a copy on my desk… and blocked out a word or two… or three. And suddenly I had the shape, and a determination to make a Life Instructable.

More than anything else, this poem is proof that there are messages everywhere, if we sort of let our eyes relax and cross a bit. Or, maybe not. Maybe I manipulate my brain to see shapes in the clouds. At any rate, here’s my poem. It was kind of exhausting, but I have that grudging respect for it, probably how a mother feels after going a few rounds with labor. Man, it wore me out, but here it is, a bit of scrap called “she grew up, she got out, she moved on.”

found poem

My Poetry Sisters may have, in fact, had more fun with this than I did. I don’t actually know, really, because it’s hard to work on a found poem as a group — it’s one of those things you have to manipulate and fiddle around with by yourself much more than with any other medium, because you’re limited to the words which already exist on a page — and, if we go by some poet’s rules, the order in which they are found — that’s how I did mine. It’s not something someone can exactly help you with, not without changing your personal connection to the meaning behind the words. At any rate, Sara @ Read, Write, Believe has put together a lovely tribute to a retiring crossword puzzle writer – both an amazing job, and an awesome poem; Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect has given it a shot, and explains some crucial information about copyright and fair use in found poetry; Kelly is down with the Beatles, Laura has posted multiples before, and creates another with aplomb; Andi goes with The Scarlet Letter, which is amazing, and Liz rounds out the collection this month from “the salvage sisters,” as Sara calls us.

Have you ever heard of Padlet? I hadn’t, but Laura has set us up with a really cool sort of public bulletin-board space in which to toss words and images in this poetic form. Go and try your hand at a few. Before you wander off to try your hand at rug-making, don’t forget to check in with Linda Baie @ Teacher Dance for the Poetry Friday round-up. Happy Friday!

5 Replies to “{poetry 7: found poetry}”

  1. “I find it difficult to find meaning in disparate bits of flotsam and jetsam — which are only assigned meaning because I say they have meaning by putting them next to each other. I found this form – neurotic little rule-based me – too loose for comfort.” This made me practically howl with laughter, Tanita. Because…well, isn’t ANY poem making meaning out of the flotsam and jetsam of the entire language? At least the narrower confines of found poetry make it less loose–to me. So funny how we as two word-lovers can see the same form in totally opposite ways!

    I especially love “LEAVE / do this where you should.” I think we’d be a lot happier (as a species, I mean), if we left a little more often. Leave jobs. Leave home. Leave relationships that don’t fit you or the life you want to build. Stay because you love. Not because you just haven’t considered any other option. Even for your whinging, you managed to make magic:>) Plus I like it when you complain a bit, because then I think, “Thank god I wasn’t the only one…”

    1. Actually, we MAKE meaning of bits and pieces of flotsam, but … I can’t MAKE the stuff from which I need to TAKE the words for my found poem – that’s what I meant. It felt ridiculously complex to move around the unwieldy bits of other people’s work. But poetry that comes from my own head is a jumble INVITING ME to make my own sense of it…?

      Does any of that make sense?

  2. Oh, see now, I’ve gotten used to your whinging (I hope I’ve used that Britishism correctly) because you do it so elegantly and reach some lovely conclusions (see Tricia’s citation above, which also makes MY “best of T” list) I’m so amused that this poem found YOU, by the way. I had rather the same experience—I kept thinking that poetry would just appear all over the place because my brain would be looking for it this month, but instead, I was Empty Pocket Emma for weeks until…an obituary. And a puzzle. It wasn’t smooth sailing from then on, either—it was a wrangle, I’m telling you. But…as you point out…”messages are everywhere” and worth searching for. Salvage the Day! (my new battle cry)

  3. Yes, you may whine, but you do it so beautifully. Who else but you could have written “this poem is proof that there are messages everywhere, if we sort of let our eyes relax and cross a bit.” I LOVE THIS!

    My favorite part is the bit in the middle:
    that bit of you you’re going
    to end up creating is really hard to explain,
    but free.

    As to form, I prefer your format to my blacked out pieces. If I ever try this again, I will definitely try it this way.

    I’m glad, as always, that we did this.

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