This poem is a riff on parts of the introduction to 52, a collection of poetry prompts put together by Jo Bell and a host of guest poets.
Tag Archives: found poetry
Here’s another found poem, a poem of erasure I suppose, from Stephen Burt’s The Poem is You. The full text may be found in his commentary on p. 171.
I love creating found poetry from book titles — it’s my favorite thing about working in the library. But catalogs can also be a source of found poetry, so that’s where I turned for today’s poem.
I wrestled mightily with a poem yesterday and finally had to put it away; it clearly needs more time to compost. The struggle left me with insufficient time/energy/attention/desire to work on something else to post. C’est la vie.
Taking a more relaxed approach today, I followed a blog post title that caught my eye and ended up with a small bit of found poetry. Sometimes it’s best follow the path of least resistance.
I am a great fan and long-time reader of Smithsonian Magazine because it offers so much: beautiful writing, brilliant images, and fascinating stories about science, culture, and history from all over the world. I’ve found inspiration (and words) for many a poem in those shiny, colorful pages.
This is a found poem from Kelly Thompson’s post on Brevity: https://brevity.wordpress.com/2020/04/23/come-together/
Speaking from the sixties
“The world is acting like it’s going to lose us,” I said.
His smile was wry. As was mine.
“Well, they’re losing us anyway,” he said.
No, I won’t die for capitalism, for Trump, for Wall Street.
I would for my girls, for my grandbabies.
But for consumerism? For the lie that there is not enough?
Not a chance.
Like my husband said, “You will lose us anyway.”
We are in the third act.
Age is a construct and so is time.
But death is not.
Things have been their usual busy, though not in the usual ways. I’ve had to cut back on many activities and redirect time and energy to a complicated family matter in another state. (Is it just me, or do “complicated” and “family” seem redundant in that sentence?)
I’ve also had a steady stream of editing work, for which I am very grateful, but all this has left me little time to write. I am equally thankful for the many writers in my life, whose posts and e-mail keep me grounded in the creative world. One such recent e-mail so tickled me that I played around with until it formed a rough poem, which I share with you here.
Recently in the course of writing a poem
I thought of the word louche (disreputable).
I didn’t really remember its meaning but it felt
right. I looked the word up and it was exactly
the meaning I was looking for. This experience
is one of the most rewarding things about writing.
(found poem, e-mail from Alexander Metro, 13dec19)
A minor family emergency (everyone is okay) and an impending college graduation have diverted my time and attention for more than a week, but today I was able to write. As the talented and wise Luanne Castle gently reminded me, my 30 days of poetry don’t necessarily have to be consecutive. (Thanks, Luanne!)
I will work with the remaining 30/30 Facebook Poetry prompts in coming days, but here is some found poetry from Jenessa Abrams’ review of Reema Zaman’s memoir I Am Yours for the Chicago Review of Books.
Site of Ruin
It’s difficult not to wonder
what seeing your arrival as a collapse
can do to the soul. Steadfast belief
in love pulses, bleeding
into every encounter,
every failure, that blurry line
between being bound to another
and being physically
restrained by them. Rape
is not a turning point, a plot device:
unsettlingly, life continues
unaltered. She is a woman,
a person of color, an immigrant.
There is no legal justice.
Finding her voice, discovering
the weapon that has always been
becomes a promise, a declaration
of inward affection and hard-fought
acceptance. Re-authoring her story
shatters her chains, frees her.
…and then Sunday rolls around and I take the day off from technology. I read instead: this Sunday it was a new collection of Chinese science fiction from the library. While the 30/30 Facebook prompt (hunger lounge) was rolling around in my head and not getting any purchase, I read some lovely lines that just begged to be in a poem. So I obliged.
Every day, as the temple bell tolls five, I sweep
from the library to the stone steps to the temple gates
where the ancient pagoda tree grows, its gnarled
branches like the talons of a rampant beast.
The layered green branches of the cypress grove
separates us, like a firewall, from the noise
and dust of the secular world. Smog glistens
above the city like the piled layers of a sari.
I imagine passengers squeezed together
like canned sardines on the number 2 subway
train leaving the lamasery station. A bell tolls
on the hour, and startled birds take to the air.
Master Subhuti once struck Monkey three times
on the head with a ferule and then walked away
with hands held behind him. How am I to interpret
two strikes on the left shoulder and one on the right?
My journey through the dark woods is accompanied
only by the gentle susurration of pines.
(found poem from “Coming of the Light,” by Chen Quifan, pp. 387-413 in Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, edited and translated by Ken Liu
Book catalog benediction
In the church of marbles,
every note is played. Every day
is for the thief, the beggar, the disenchanted
princess. Soup is served with sweet
little lies and lavender eye pillows embroidered
by owls who are good at keeping secrets.
Prayers for hard times rise up from 111 places
that you must not miss, sung
by the lady in the collar and the ghost armies
of every war, lest we forget. There is one pan
for the whole family, a promise given
in the lullabies of the world. Something beautiful
happened growing up in other
people’s houses like surprise heirloom carrots:
we found empathy and wonder and the courage
to become the good neighbor.
A little riff on book titles (some of them misread) from the catalogs that pile up on my breakfast table.