Found poetry begins with three found things
Picked up at random
Like three pictures from my internet gallery
Plagiarized from somebody’s fandom
And then you have to sit and have a thought
About how it fits together
To make a stupid poem you’ve wrought
That’s not about the weather
You must pretend the very best you can
There’s sense in what you’ve found
And it fits together as if you had a plan
That was always quite profound.
Writing a found poem
Okay, this is the essay part. That first part is a terrible poem written by me to illustrate how to make your own found poem. Of course, you should know that I was not a natural-born poet. I am among the lower percentages of America’s worst-possible poets. Right there somewhere between the poetry books of Farley Bumbletongue and the Collected Musings of Hans Poopferbrains of Snarkytown, Wisconsin.
But I take great pride in my abilities as a terrible poet. You see, what I mainly was, truly was, was an English teacher of middle school and high school kids. And found poems were an activity in the classroom intended to teach writing skills, creativity, and an appreciation of what a poem actually is.
I needed a large usable picture file cut out of Christmas catalogs, Walmart advertisements, newspapers, magazines (“What are those?” is the most common comment you would get out of today’s classrooms,) grocery-store bargain flyers, outdated calendars, and any other non-pornographic picture sources available.
I would hand out three random images pulled out of the picture file without looking at them to each student (or small groups of students) and then require them to create a poem of at least twelve lines with an optional rhyme scheme and rhythm.
I would have to remind them not to eat the pictures, even if they were pictures of food. And with middle school students I would have to have extra pictures for the next class to replace the ones they ate anyway.
I would tell them there was a time-limit, specified to be much shorter than the actual time I planned to give them, and then let them create horrible poetry. Near Vogon quality in its horribleness.
When all of this was done, we would have a good long laugh by sharing the pictures and poems, and find out who the truly wacky and perverted poets were.
Now, don’t go telling parents that we teachers are wasting their children’s precious learning time this way, but it is not I lesson I created. Simply a lesson I used at least once every year.
But the real question on my mind is, “Given three random pictures, what kind of poem would you write?” Feel free to share.