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Poetic Technique: The Found Poem

Updated on November 12, 2011

A found poem is a poem constructed of sentences or sentence fragments found in life. I constructed mine from random, promotional and spam emails. Here it is:

Asking for your authorization to be contacted

About gathering as a community, raising

Alien's superior antenna.

Together, we can help the thousands

Take full advantage

Meeting our goal of offering

An explosion of male joblessness.

I have also had positive experiences

Fixated on getting the most perfect, amazing

Bubbly woman so alive with her project

Transformed into a magical place for all ages

That develops fearlessness, confidence,

Openness and gentleness towards ourselves.

We will be holding a day-by-day

Beyoncé reference in conjunction with the social sciences

Exercise which stimulates the circulation.

Coaching by convenient, interactive Telephone.

Together we can create greater awareness,

The first step in calling out a proven killer

As flexible and mobile as the world around you,

Removing uncertainty from human affairs.

Enjoy keeping track of everything.

Learn how you can become involved.


What I notice most about the lines that attracted me is the energy with which they seem to be inherently charged. Each line seems precisely aimed to strike a deep chord within. Well, except “Alien’s superior antenna.” I chose that one because it is just plain weird

There are many attractive phrases that I thought might make an audience smile, from the satisfying idea of “meeting our goal” to the appearance of a “bubbly woman so alive with her project.” There is enough contrariness to elicit humor without succumbing to complete nonsense. It is an interesting idea, I think, to offer “an explosion of male joblessness.

Other than the alien antenna, the rest of the lines all seem to demand a response. “Asking for your authorization” certainly makes you sound important, doesn’t it? “Gathering as a community” sounds like good citizenship. “Together, we can help”… sounds like we’d be bad people if we didn’t, whereas “…we can help the thousands…” makes us sound even MORE important. Name dropping Beyoncé doesn’t hurt. Taken as a whole, the resulting poem seems to be a most effective pitch … for something, we are not sure what.

I tried to make all the line-endings strong. The repetition of “Together” serves to help bind the first half of the poem with the second half. Notice the first line of the first stanza and the first line of the second stanza have a loose affinity of a kind of triplet rhythm going on, tying them together on a subliminal level. The last lines of each stanza are strong. The last two lines of the poem create a kind of envoi.

Structurally speaking, in selecting my sentences and phrases, I looked for complete subjects and predicates that referenced mainly the pronouns “I” and “we.” I did not necessarily try to make sense, except that the sentences should be more or less grammatically correct in their construction, although a couple of the sentences are run-on sentences.

In life, I often hear or read a sentence or phrase that sparks my poetic creativity. Usually I write something rather different based on the idea. Using the found poem technique, the poet simply uses the sentences or phrases themselves, as an artist might use images from a magazine in a collage like the one at the top of the page.

I think the found poem technique would be a fun exercise for kids. Don't you?


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Too funny. Thank you, Ruby!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Tom, You have so many new ideas, and you write so well. I guess i could go through my junk mail and come up with a kicker..Most all are X rated..Thank goodness for Norton Security.Ha..Thank you..Cheers

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Senoritaa!

      MissOlive, that is fantastic. I think your students will really enjoy it.

      Thanks, Snakeslane! Yes, it was like picking blueberries.

      Thank you, Jerilee! It is poetic, isn't it?

      I dunno, Frieda. I think if you look through your inbox you'll find some interesting stuff!

      Thanks, Keith!

      Thanks, SusieQ!

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 6 years ago

      Great idea and great concepts. Voted up and interesting.

    • Keith Matyi profile image

      Keith Matyi 6 years ago from Denton, TX

      awesome poem!

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      A wonderful compilation. It made so much sense, and then yes, as you said, not sure for what. I'd love to try this one out... Although I have to say you may have taken all the good lines! abfab, Tom.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States

      I love the idea of a collage of poetic words.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      Well what can I say Tom Rubenoff, here you go plucking a poem out of thin air! Some of us actually have to work at this writing thing, but you just have fun and still come up with something relevant! I am as always, impressed. Regards, snakeslane

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 6 years ago from Texas

      Fascinating technique. You have been a great source Tom. Keep them coming! I'll be sharing this one with my co-workers and add it to our upcoming poetry unit.

      Interesting note for your chronicles - the State of Texas has brought back poetry and drama (it was listed as a skill, but not tested). The skills will be included this year in our new standardized test. These skills are emphasized in the middle school group. Poetry for 7th grade and Drama for 8th grade.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Senoritaa 6 years ago

      A very interesting technique!