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More Found Poetry - The Possibilities are Wild

Updated on January 13, 2014

A Fun, Poetic Form - Do Try This at Home!

Found poetry is a form of poetry that is easy to play with and fun to practice. It consists of taking already written text, from any possible source, and re-arranging it, re-creating it, re-wording it, until you have something completely new.

The text can come from a magazine article, or even the captions, selectively edited. It can come from billboards, from your own writing, or from prose text. If you are using other people's words, be sure to credit the source of where you originally started from, to avoid copyright infringement. Remember the golden rule of writing and art in general - give credit where credit is due. Ask permission where necessary, if you are using well known text. Which makes the argument for using your own text.

Like "found art," found poetry is something you discover. Sometimes all it takes is literally looking at a sentence differently, or even hearing - or mis-hearing - something. One can find text in newspapers, magazines, books, lyrics, other poems (yours and anyone else's, appropriately edited and credited of course). Note - like musical "sampling" if you are using found text, again I must stress - give credit where credit is due.

One of the easiest techniques used in found poetry is to simply take one of your old poems, print it out and cut it up. Then re-arrange the words into something new. Bada bing bada bang you've got a new poem, and you have become your own best source for inspiration! How 'bout that!

Another fun and easy technique is to combine the art of found collage with found poetry. Go through any travel magazine, and look at the luscious, amazing location shots of all those far away exotic places that you've always wanted to visit (or that some of you already have visited), and cut out the pictures and layer them in a collage. While you're at it, cut out the captioned text that goes with the picture and heavily edit it until it the text is sparsely re-arranged. It's a way of headlining the essence of the picture and the effects can be quite startling.

Haikube Poetry: Roll the Dice and Create Word Patterns

"Whirlwind World"

wind point but spiral

precious peace parallel

on I/ we/ many embraced


flesh swimming shines as

water touches grand shiver

all this between fantasy

Poems (c) 2014 by Alaine M. Ruse

Poetry in a Box, Poetry Around the House: Word Games that Lead to Poetry

Poetry in a Box - Poetry Kits You Can Purchase

A commercially successful version of found poetry that is still popular today is the well-known refrigerator Magnetic Poetry. Although a poetic purist might not agree, I have found this to be an accessible, instantaneous form of poetry. One of the biggest pluses of 'magnetic poetry' is that it's copyright free - the words are already cut apart and thrown up in the proverbial air just for you. And your refrigerator is waiting for them to land!

A newer example of commercially available found poetry came to me in the form of a birthday gift this year; "Haikubes". Essentially, it's a word game made of blocks with printed words with which one can create haikus. Perhaps haikus are the original form of "found" poetry, although they are essentially "found" from inside one's mind or spirit. I located several sources of the Haikubes game online, including Chronicle Books, Amazon, and NOGNZ.

Refrigerator poetry can be commercially bought via, but it can also be "created". A couple of methods of creating your own "fridge poetry" can be found around the house. Here are two methods to try.

Household Poetry - Fold, Cut and (Gently) Mutilate

For this method you will need a pair of scissors, a pen and paper or index cards (you can also do this via computer and printer, or even using sticky notes):

  • Step 1: Copy one of your own poems onto a piece of paper.
  • Step 2: Cut the paper up by words and/ or groups of words.
  • Step 3: Rearrange the words until you have something new and voila! your new found poem!

Don't be afraid to delete and/ or reduce until you have distilled the essence of your original poem, or until you see a new poem emerging.

  • Method two is the same as above, except this time you're going to mix up two of your own short poems, to produce one or more new poems.

Pull Out the Scrabble Board - A Way to Diagram a Visual Found Poem

If you are not attached to the rules of scrabble or competing to make "recognizable" sentences that make your left brain happy, you can use your scrabble board and game pieces, to form poetry designs.

Just play the game with the goal to make poetry, rather than sentences, and use the board as a template for new and different ways to structure the lines themselves.

  • Tips: In this method, everything does not have to be horizontal, or read left to right. Consider word-find puzzles, and the use of more than one directional flow.

Mini-Word Graphics: Mailbox Poems

You can use just about any source to create a poem. Here are examples of "mailbox" poems, which were created by carving out and adding to the texts from various pieces of junk mail.

The first one was carved out of a college catalog/brochure (University of the Arts Spring 2012) and the second came from a mailer for The National Catholic Register (which I've never read).

Both poems were written in 2012 and updated in 2014:

On Marriage (aka from the Catholic Mail Insert)

I've read the Register/ for over 30 years/ it has been a real treasure.

You! Yes you!/ Faithfully most revered yours – you

Yes you send me/ To the miles of places

Faithfully longing/ have no regrets.

© 2012 by A.M. Ruse

To the Secret Places (aka Higher Learning)

Create your now/ Attend to your/ first step.

Provide/ accelerated experience.

Emphasize/ secure transition into the new.

Ask/ What kind of person?/ Creates explosion.

© 2012 by A.M. Ruse

Conclusion: Found, Free and Easy!

The fun and beauty of found poetry is that it's not too precious. This is a found word-object, after all. Not yours to keep so much as yours to shape and share. It's like picking up a rusty piece of metal from the street and seeing what you can see with it, what you can make of it.

See how easy? Anyone anyone can do this! There are so many sources of poetry, everywhere. It's just a matter of knowing where to look. Musicians trade notes all the time. Poets can do the same by borrowing a word, a phrase, and putting it through the looking glass, until you find the unique perpective that is individually yours to share.

© 2012 Art Girl 27


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    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      5 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hey Art Girl,

      Nice hub! I'm gonna give "Found Poetry" a try! I'll let you know how it turns out! Or, maybe you'll tell me!

      Voted Up +

    • Art Girl 27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Art Girl 27 

      6 years ago from East Coast USA

      Thank you so much! Hope you and your students have lots of fun playing! Yes you can do this with just about anything via the magic of editing, cut/paste, collaboration, adding graphics (or not) etc.

    • rcote profile image


      6 years ago

      I love doing found poetry with students and I just love your examples on here. It's amazing how you can take something so commercial and turn it into a work of art. Subversive in a way! I like it! I have wondered about doing this with a number of handwritten writings (letters, grocery lists, court notes, etc) that I have found tucked in library books, etc. A fun hub!

    • Art Girl 27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Art Girl 27 

      6 years ago from East Coast USA

      Thank you! Enjoyed your hub on hair texture too.

    • Art Girl 27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Art Girl 27 

      6 years ago from East Coast USA

      Thank you! Fun to try...

    • Jaggedfrost profile image


      6 years ago

      This hub has a lot of good information and is worth bookmarking for those who enjoy form poetry or are in need of inspiration. Nice job.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image


      6 years ago from East Coast

      Very cool hub, kind of combines graphic design, typography and puzzle solving all in one. My favorite hub so far:)


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