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Why Found Poetry?
Found poetry is creating a new poem from an existing source. In this article I will explain my reasons for why I believe that found poetry is perhaps the ideal type of poetry. I enjoy found poetry so much, that of the poems I have written, of them are found poems (and can be found here). I will also list some cons of found poetry and ways to get around those cons.
The pros of found poetry as I see it are as follows:
I've found that people just "get" found poetry. You will have a much easier time explaining what found poetry is compared to what poetry is in general when people ask. In fact, when people ask what poetry is, I explain it in terms of what found poetry is. In a way, all poetry can be considered found poetry because a "source" in its most general sense is just what we've been exposed to already.
Found poetry not only relieves pressure on newbie poets to create poems by having the source text there as a hand-hold, it also helps experienced poets be more creative by imposing some structure and can also cure what people describe as "writer's block".
In your search for source texts you will be exposed to poems and poets (and other types of sources and writers and artists) and ideas you otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to. Found poetry will expand your literary and other spheres of knowledge. Also, one can read up on using ideas from probability and statistics (such as random sampling) and programming, which really serves to generalize methods like using strings, blacking out, erasing, strips of paper, etc., to create found poetry.
There is a graphical aspect to found poetry. Found poetry has a history of "collage", using strings, blacking out poems, erasing, cutting up strips of paper, and so on. Use of graphics makes poetry more interesting, tangible, sharable, and marketable.
- Because the source text can be anything, it can be based on current events and popular topics. For example, if Sherlock Holmes is a popular topic because of a movie, find a Sherlock Holmes source text or texts (story, books, movie script, movie review, quotes, etc.) and create a found poem from it. One can also use affiliate links to link to the source and make income from this.
The cons of found poetry as I see it are as follows:
- The found poem poet is not creating the words. However, some ways around this are
- realize you are not only selecting the "best words" but also creating the "best order" of the words, which is just as important
- use a rule that says "I will create a found poem but I will also be allowed to create N number of new words in the poem", where N can be kept as small, or as large, as you want
- choose to be allowed to use all forms of a word in your found poem. For example, if a sampled word is "book" you are allowed to use "book" but also "books", "booked", "booking", etc., even if those are not present in the source
- the poet can be allowed to use synonyms of sampled words. For example, if you sample "eat" you can use "eat" but also use "dine", "masticate", or "chew", even if those don't appear in the source
- one can combine sampled words to create new words. For example, if you've sampled "week" and "end" you can use "week" and "end" but also use "weekend", even though "weekend" itself does not appear in the source
- The found poem length is typically limited by the length of the source text. Some ways around this are
- do not always limit yourself to have the length of the found poem be less than the length of the source text
- simply use longer source texts. For example, instead of a poem have the source text be a collection of poems or a book. One can find the full texts of many works online, including entire collections and books
- randomly sample with replacement, which is a probability/statistics way of saying that you are allowed to use the same word more than once. I explain how to do this in my Introduction to Found Poetry
- Sources are limited to text. Some workarounds to this constraint are
- think of how one could sample from sources that are not text
- think of how to convert sources to text that you can then sample from
I hope this gave you some appreciation for the benefits of found poetry. To see some examples of found poetry I've created, see my Found Poetry. I'd enjoy reading your found poems, and creating my found poetry from your found poems, so please send them my way.
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