Friday, April 04, 2014

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, April 04, 2014 16 comments
Arranged by Annie Dillard (1945 —)
from Mikhail Prishvin, Nature’s Diary, 1925
Photo by messy cook at wikimedia commons

How wonderfully it was all arranged that each
Of us had not too long to live.  This is one
Of the main snags—the shortness of the day.
The whole wood was whispering, “Dash it, dash it . . .”

What joy—to walk along that path!  The snow
Was so fragrant in the sun!  What a fish!
Whenever I think of death, the same stupid
Question arises:  “What’s to be done?”

As for myself, I can only speak of what
Made me marvel when I saw it for the first time.
I remember my own youth when I was in love.
I remember a puddle rippling, the insects aroused.

I remember our own springtime when my lady told me:
You have taken my best.  And then I remember
How many evenings I have waited, how much
I have been through for this one evening on earth.

Mornings Like This: Found Poems.  New York: Harper Perennial, 1996. 1.


Today's poem comes from a poetic genre that unapologetically makes borrowing its raison d'être [reason for being, a very handy French phrase when you want to sound cosmopolitan :-)]. As the byline says, this piece is "arranged" by the living poet Annie Dillard. The raw material from which she built the piece, however, is someone else's writing. This kind of poem is called "found poetry"

Found Poetry, as the Wikipedia article defines it, is "a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the original."

Found poems, in other words, take other people's texts and jiggers them into poetry, either by simply altering the line breaks and such, or by mashing together snippets.

This is clearly one of the least intimidating types of poetry to try yourself. Gather and cobble, and voila, poetry.

Is this something you'd be willing to try? Where might you find inspiring source material? 

16 comments:

  1. I've seen found poetry before, from newspaper clippings and headlines, but this is the first time when I've seen a huge chunk of writing found and arranged by another writer. It's definitely something I would be willing to try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dillard has a whole book of found poetry--she's quite masterful at arranging it. I really love the piece she wrote using Vincent Van Gogh's letters to his brother: http://inwardboundpoetry.blogspot.com/2011/09/876-i-am-trying-to-get-at-something.html

      Delete
  2. It is a really cool idea. I am not sure I'd be brave enough to try it.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could be a fun puzzle, especially if you drew lines from other poems scattered through one collection or several.

      Delete
  3. I think this is something I would like to try. Jotting down some notes right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once did this with what seemed the most prosaic thing ever--a paragraph from a science textbook. Once line breaks were introduced something magical happened. It's really fun to try!

      Delete
  4. thanks for sharing this one, lot to learn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it intrigued you. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  5. I've never heard of found poetry before, neat concept!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you seen some book reviewers creating poems by stacking book spines so that the words created phrases? That's another form of found poetry. It's quite fun to try.

      Delete
  6. Great post! I first learned about found poetry last year and have always wanted to try this technique. Thanks for the reminder!!! ~ Angela, A to Z participant from Web Writing Advice (http://www.webwritingadvice.com/) and Whole Foods Living (http://wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Source material is all around. And here's a helpful tutorial linked from the New York Times: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/learning/pdf/2010/NCTEarticle.pdf

      Delete
  7. With found poems, I always want to see the source material too, in its original context, so I can better appreciate what the poet did to it.

    By the way, I have really liked all the poems you've featured so far in April, though I don't think I've commented until now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Dillard's case, I suspect she's working with large documents and cherry-picking choice lines. In the review of Mornings Like This, they mention that she uses lines verbatim, but plays with line breaks to emphasize theme.

      Glad you've enjoyed my selections. It's been lots of fun sharing some old favorites and some recent discoveries.

      Delete
  8. Hi, Laurel. I've not come across this before. It's an interesting idea! Hope you are having a good weekend :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's lots of fun to try.

      I was out of town all day yesterday at a feis (Irish dance competition) my daughter was in. Just now catching up with A-Zing!

      Delete