Poetic Technique: The Found Poem
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?