Tuesday Trial: Found Poetry

16 Nov
found poetry on throat lozenge wrapper

Image by Seven Morris via Flickr found poem came from the lozenge wrapper

1:29, Tuesday, 16 November, 2010 – Atlanta

Let’s move straight into Part 2 of the found poetry exercise:

You should have to hand something that looks like and sounds like a poem, but its words still belong to the writer of your source piece. The next steps help you take charge of the piece… help you make the piece your own… allow you to become the god of the world your piece creates. You are the creator of the story, the world in which it is set, and the speaker of the story.

To refine your found poem:

6. Ask yourself: What does the piece make me think? Wonder? Imagine? What is the story behind the piece? What is not told that should be? And who should tell the story? Freewrite a response for a few minutes. Allow your brain the freedom to roam uncensored. Let me show you a tiny article and how far a student of mine roamed. I envy the paths his brain takes.

Article from the Jakarta Post, September 2005. No author: “THE LAST MOHICAN : Risnan, 72, drives his helicak around Menteng, Central Jakarta. This is the only helicak left in the capital, and its days are numbered now that the Jakarta administration will ban three-wheeled vehicles on the city’s roads as stipulated by Bylaw No.12/2003 on transportation.”

Questions: What does this poem make me think? Wonder? Imagine?

vehicle similar to a helicak

Lost traditions, going more global.
Old man still has an occupation
Mohican: an old American folk tale that’s forgotten
No more bajaj=No more traffic
Jakarta with less pollution (from the bajaj’s)
Because they’re going to ban, some will be disappointed for losing their job
I wonder what it’s like working at the age of 72
I wonder what its like to have the only helicak
I wonder how much they get paid
I wonder how hard it is to build a vehicle
Where does steel come from?
Does Risnan know that bullet trains exist? What does he eat?Does it feel comfortable to be in a helicak? How long does he work for? Does he have a grand son? How old is his helicak
Why is it called a helicak?
Do helicaks exist in Jakarta only?

7. What might you do to make what looks and sounds like a poem meet your thinking, fulfill your fancy, answer your question? Again respond in writing or jot notes to yourself on the piece. You will need, in any case, to figure out for yourself how you want to annotate your work when you revise a first draft. I write notes on the diagonal and use arrows to connect to the part of my poem I want to change, or where I want to check for another word, or where I want to research a little background on something to add to my knowledge of what I want to write about.

My student’s response to this and what he ended up using was: The untold story that’s waiting to get out: The driver strives to protest against the government
Who should tell it: the driver, Risnan

To refine found poetry, ask:

What’s the untold story waiting to get out?

Who should tell it?

8. Do you need to revise or rewrite the whole piece because you are focusing on one part of the original which interests you more than the overall story? Do so if you wish.

Cross out unnecessary words and sentences.

Change words, names, places, facts if you think such changes help the piece. This is your story now and facts don’t necessarily have a place in your world. They may not fit what you want to create.

Revise to eliminate verbs of being. (Next week, I’ll talk a little theory about the whys and wherefores of some of the things I have suggested in the past couple of weeks)

Add words, names, facts you feel will help the piece.

Add an ending–as little as one word; as much as you like.

Give it a title. Credit the original. This can be done in a number of ways. Your attribution can come right after the title, or at the end of the poem. I usually italicize the attribution. depending on how far I have taken the poem from the original I might say: With thanks to author’s name; or, After the letter I in Granger’s Index of Poetry; or, from Proverbs. If your poem has become something so other that the original is unrecognizable then you needn’t attribute, but courtesy allows you to if you wish.

So take your poem and make it yours.

I haven’t mentioned it before but I would love to see what comes from these exercises, so feel free to link back to your blog in a comment, or copy and paste the poem.

I know, I know: my tree. But I know I should not make posts too long. Tomorrow I’ll give you a break from exercises – I  am going to assume you are revising away at your found poem. Tomorrow I will write about my tree and a couple of sites that are worth a visit.


1 Comment

Posted by on 16/11/2010 in poetry, writing


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