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October 5, 2011

Found poetry

Play is an important part of creativity.  Play frees up the mind, leading to innovation and keeping state of mind from growing stale.  Word-play is a fun way to improve, or at least flex, your writing skills.

I've recently been playing with poetry--in particular, found poems.  Found poems are created by taking words or phrases from other sources (usually written, but things overheard can also be used) and recombining them as poems.  I came across the idea in Getting the Knack, 20 Poetry Writing Exercises.  It's the first exercise.  I have yet to try the remaining 19.  Cutting, re-arranging words, adding or changing punctuation are all allowed by the exercise, but you're not allowed to add your own words to the mix.

Most of what I come up with is utterly abysmal.  All of it makes me laugh.  Here's one I just wrote, pulling from Henry Taylor's autobiography, From Lead Mines to Gold Fields, Memories of An Incredibly Long Life.


Dig a hole
three feet deep
three, in diameter

All women 
and children
circle around the hole
wave willows,
advance slow.
Drive hoppers to the hole

Go to hole
with basket
of coarse grass, woven close
Fill basket
with hoppers

Boil water,
heating rocks
Pour over grasshoppers

Cook to taste.

Remove rocks
Dry hoppers
on grass mat

When dried,
Add water,
stir to mush

Eat as though most luscious food in the world

Photo by amphioxus
Give the exercise a try--come play with me, and share your creation in the comments.

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