Found Poetry Tutorial

Many people in my online creative community have asked, “What exactly is Found Poetry?” so I thought I would share my personal take on this super fun + creative practice.

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I first stumbled upon Found Poetry when I was taking a poetry class at my college in Rome, Italy. I had never been “into” poetry to begin with, but this class was so.incredibly.boring (not to mention the thought of real Italian pizza being a stone’s throw away while we were stuck in the classroom) that I had to develop a strategy not to sleep through the entire class every day. What I began to do was to create poems as the professor lectured. He liked to talk, and he would ramble on for a long time. So, I started getting out my pen and letting my ears pluck out interesting words. As I plucked them from what he was saying, I wrote them down. One after another, I wrote down random words that I “drew” from his ongoing lecture. Towards the end of the class, I had a list of random words written down with which I then challenged myself to create a poem! I didn’t get the greatest grade in that class, but I have forever loved this practice of finding poems in random words that flit across my path.

Later, in my mixed media work, I have used pieces of text to find words, and poems. This is the “Found Poetry” process that I will share today.

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To start with, there are no rules when it comes to this kind of poetry “writing” and it can be poetry finding, writing, or creating. I like to think that we find the words that we need in this process.

When you are making Found Poetry, you can start with any type of text. You can use magazines, old books (new books!) even other people’s poetry.

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METHOD ONE:

If I have to choose, method one of Found Poetry is my least favorite version.  For this version, you use a single piece of text and find the poem on the page by using a pencil to cricle words that jump out to you. You “create” a poem as you move down through the text, circling. Once you’ve created the poem, you can create a mix-media page by painting around the circled words, covering all of the remaining text with paint and decorative touches. I find that this type of found poetry works best by using a novel page dense with words (not another poem). It will provide much more surprising results!

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METHOD TWO:

The second version is a little more time-consuming, but much more fun and the results can be almost magical. In this version, you will still go about finding the words that you want in text (again, any type of text), but you will cut the words out. Cut out a lot of words, words that delight you, words that seem surprising and you aren’t sure how or where they will fit in. I recommend getting an empty Altoid tin to house your words in, for safe-keeping.

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Next, take out words and place them in front of you on the table and…experiment! Begin moving the words around, playing with different combinations. I believe this is when the magic appears: phrases you need to hear, phrases that speak magic, will appear from the words you chose so unknowingly.

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Finally, you will glue the poem down onto your art journal page (or whatever substrate you are working on, even canvas paintings). I always use Gel Matte Medium because I can apply it underneath and over the top of the text, sealing it in completely, and it dries clear. Just make sure that the rest of your paint is dry when you do this step, or the color will spread onto the text (unless you want this effect!).

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I especially like using this method for creating altered cards, either for one of the swaps, or to leave as a surprise for strangers as abandoned art. 

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