Thursday, January 29, 2009

Here's that "found poem" I mentioned

When cannons are used to scare birds

the noise can be disturbing.
We apologize
but the measure is necessary
this evening.

--Facilities and Maintenance, University of North Texas


  1. I recently took a poetry class and we touched on found poetry only very briefly, however I find it to be a very interesting concept. One boy in our class created an entire poem by using words and phrases he found on road signs. It was unexpectedly poetic and surprisingly emotional. I feel that whether a poet uses words from their mind, or words found in unexpected places, the result is still self-expression and can most definitely be defined as poetry.

  2. If self-expression defines poetry then what does a "found poem" express? In the example of the guy who constructed a poem from found materials, like road signs, it makes sense that his particular ordering of the materials conveys his own world view. He chose certain signs, perhaps for sound, perhaps for meaning, and ordered them in a certain way. In the case of "When cannons are used to scare birds," however, I didn't really do much to it, except put in line breaks. It's hard for me to view that poem as an expression of "me"--except in so far as it reflects some idea of what I personally think of as poetic. I liked its koan-like simplicity and subtle musicality in the repetition of the words "disturbing" and "evening." But what else does the poem express--if not an individual self--then something else?

  3. I'm looking for the poetry that summons up my courage.
    Does anyone knows?

  4. In my opinion:

    I think that the placement of "We apologize" is crucial to this even being considered a poem. Taken piece by piece, it can serve as a beginning to every line, save its own (and with a "that" inserted between it and the second line). Also, we as analytical readers are looking for poetic devices such as these that may or may not even have been intended. This may take away from the "genius" of the author(s) but it does not take away from the beauty/significance of a work.

    A found poem helps to express that which surrounds it. Similar to black holes, which are defined by the absence of ether (or whatever they're calling it these days). Dis continuity and defining what something isn't helps point to what it is and how it's not something else. It also expresses the discoverer's appreciation of what they've found, and both what it represents to them and the category in which they place it. Stars spread light in all directions not just towards earth. The light that moves away from our point of view isn't lost or any less useful. In fact, we couldn't see most of the awesome things that surround us without said light. Moon-lovers could probably testify to this.

  5. "A poem is a naked person."
    -Bob Dylan

    I think a poem is only a poem when it is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. Different people are attracted to different things; many might find the grocery list of a lonely widower to be a poignant instance of poetry, many find the entire published works of Allen Ginsburg to be complete garbage. To each his/her own I guess...

  6. I do think your found poem is a poem. My found poem is:

    (If necessary)

    I put the parentheses in there because it's "sometimes." Only if you have to.

    I know that's pretty basic but I chose it because of my experiences and some of the things I do over and over again despite trying to avoid a rut. Does that make sense?
    I actually use it to some up my days at times. Especially when I'm frustrated with things. It's my catch all summation of frustration but kinda of comforting at the same time.

  7. Poetry is a condensed essence, a meaning. It does not have to be formally expressed, but can be subconscious. Poetry is a creative process of expression, a purging of emotion, feeling, thoughts. Poetry does not fit in a box. It is not like an essay, regularized and homogenized.

    Poetry to me means the ability to express myself the way that I want to, in the words of my choice, not worrying about who will see them, usually. Poetry can be a collection of quick incomplete thoughts that are linked together randomly around a common theme. The essence of something that poetry is is the most difficult part to capture or explain. You ask if grocery lists might be poetry. I would say yes. They reveal exactly what a person intends to buy. It captures the essence of that person’s standard of living, diet, priorities, needs, and possibly even interests all at once.

    Poetry is made up of things that you cannot contain, that must be expressed. The best poetry is not manufactured, but poured out. The pen or keyboard cannot move fast enough to keep up with the thoughts. At other times the pouring out is accidental or goes unnoticed, such as a grocery list. Poetry captures pieces of life, physical or metaphysical, and begs to be read.

  8. The big, dusty dictionary that sits under my desk says that a poem is "a composition designed to convey a vivid and imaginative sense of experience", but then it goes on to say "any composition in verse rather than prose". It then complicates matters even further when another definition says "any literary composition written with an intensity or beauty of language more characteristic of poetry". Frankly, my dictionary does not get out much nor do I think it reads much poetry in its spare time, so I am distrustful of its knowledge of poetry.

    I think poetry lives in the abstract and it makes it impossible to tie a definition, or any stipulation that says it must do this at a specific time in a specific way or rhyme or arrive at work on time or hurry to catch a train, and I think that is why people are drawn to it. I think a poem creates a space for everyone to explore certain ideas of themes that they might have thought about before, or never at all, and still converse about it. Someone might have ages of formal education about form or the specific format of sonnets, and still the recreational poetry reader can have their own very valid opinions.

    A poem shows an emotion, or a lack of emotion, or how beautiful emotions are, or how ugly, or questions the need for them at all. A poem just exists and waits to be filled by the reader.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. here is the poem that I found in the men's bathroom.

    Don't listen
    Don't listen
    Don't listen
    any more

  11. When i think of poems,i think of the old rhyming couplets reminiscent of Shakespeare, but poems today no not fit into any neat box. A poem to me is something that tells a story or evokes an emotion within a few short lines. It can be an implied message full of metaphors, or the straight and narrow without any translations needed. I personally prefer short, well composed, emotional poems that really get you thinking, "Hmmm..."

  12. If we classify poetry into one idea we limit its true purpose and insult every poet, which in fact could be anyone. As I've studied poetry and come across it in many different shapes and forms, I realized the options are endless. Poetry can be anything. It can be a completely ambiguous thought. It can be a few lines that rhyme. It can be a love letter, or it can be another page in a diary. Poetry is meant to express anything and everything. It can be a feeling, a though, something witnessed, or something said. Poetry can be not only written but it can be a song, a rap, a painting, a photograph, or even a movie. We have been told poetry is just one thing, a certain amount of lines written on a page with a completely vague thought. It may or may not rhyme. It has stanzas, weird language, and only follows certain themes. It in fact is one's mind expressing itself in a creative light. Whatever that creativity may be, it is unknown, but it's everywhere.

  13. Poetry could be described as a dumbbell of literature. It challenges you to strengthen your analytical muscles and question what can be proven.I think its artistic expression through words on a page. It is what makes the gum under your shoe interesting.

    Poetry is most often shorted in length but thicker in content. It manipulates all aspects of writing to get a certain reaction or understanding from the reader. One thing I love about poetry is that it breaks the rules.

  14. Poetry is not something that can be classified, this is proven easily that poetry can be found in almost anything. One of the previous posts found poetry in Lather Rinse Repeat. So little can be said in trying to define poetry. Recently I have been bombarded by professors trying to force a non-existent definition on something I think cannot be defined.

  15. I believe that poetry is a way for people to express themselves in a way that does not entirely let you know what they are going through, but makes you work a little bit to find out, so that once you do discover the true meaning behind their words, you would have deserved the opportunity to know.

  16. Poetry is the attempt to define an aspect of existence about human beings to other human beings. Whether declaratory or not, it walks around what it is stating by defining either what it is or is not. Those open to receiving the poem understand this approximation in it applicability to either our own lives, the voice's life, or some abstraction that has a universal relevance. This relevance may, in itself be the abstraction and within itself hold the understanding that is attempting to be related by the author. Not that all readers will understand or even care after understanding, but relevant understanding is a crucial part of poetry, otherwise no one would read it. Poetry transcends generations and elicits emotional responses as well as mental and willful responses; it cannot only be a cute or clever play on syntax. It either acutely or generally relates in an inverse harmony with that which it does not acutely or generally relate. This tight specificity towards defining one thing defines what is not touched on in the poem by virtue of its own existence.

  17. Definitively a poem is any expressive work that employs condensed and deliberately organized language simultaneously with poetic devices to evoke an emotional response from the reader. This is a somewhat rigid definition of poetry but still allows considerable flexibility to poetry as a literary form
    -Matthew Koons

  18. I have a 'found' poem that was written on the wall of AUDB 217.

    Question one:
    when from your lectern, Langston Hughes,
    did you exhume your putrid blues
    and frail facsimiles
    of fears and lusts so strong,
    men died of them.
    Did you mean to sound so white?

    Question two:
    You know what I mean - y'all shaude
    did you presume that poets have to conk their throats
    in homage to their own dead

    Question three:
    Yeah, I know, Shakespeare probably
    fucking did it, too;
    Gentility Enticith,
    Don't it?

  19. Okay, that last post totally messed up the spacing of the poem, so it doesn't look anything like what it did on the wall. Sorry about that. I tried to keep it consistent, but it obviously did not work out.

  20. I'm not sure if this can be considered a 'found poem' because it is the lyrics to a song, but I thought I would share it because I found it to be very beautiful.

    Birds flying high,
    You know how I feel.
    Sun in the sky,
    You know how I feel.
    Wind drifting on by,
    You know how I feel.
    It's a new dawn,
    It's a new day,
    It's a new life,
    For me.
    And I'm feeling good.

    Feeling Good
    By Muse

  21. I like the definition in the book the best - how poems are all supposed to be more or less personal. That's something fiction and non-fiction can of course incorporate but with poetry there's an element of emotion and metric that cannot be expressed through the other two forms.

    When I think of non-fiction or fiction, I always think of something broad. There's a bit of strategy in order to get a good, fulfilling essay. With poetry not so much - it can capture the smallest, most specific instance and evoke emotion at the same time.

  22. Poetry has always been the one part of English classes I absolutely loathe. I'm almost positive it stems from the fact that I cannot write it myself. It's funny to me how poetry seems so simple from a reader's perspective. When that reader sits down and attempts to write a simple poem himself, the words don't come out, and if they do, it lacks eloquence.

    Poetry amazes me because every word is strategically placed in a specific place for a reason. Every word matters to the theme meaning of the poem. Poetry contains so much emotion and meaning in such a short space.

    I know this isn't my "definition of poetry," but I honestly can't think of a concrete phrase or definition for such a subjective area of English.


  23. I like poems that are informative. Your found poem is informative.

  24. Poetry is order. Order is nature. Nature is natural. Natural is law. Law is death. Law is love. So, poetry is information on all these things. The poet uses her or his emotional aspect on love and death and religion and nature and the everyday occurrances of life. There isn't much diversity in poetry when it comes to content. The language a poet uses, the way it is structured, is where diversity comes into play.

    That being said, I find the "found" poems interesting...wish I could have found one.