As soon as I read Charlotte’s challenge to create a cut-up or collage poem, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
Found poetry is interesting. It reminds me of my father, who loved both jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles.
Found poetry is a composition made by combining fragments of such printed material as newspapers, signs, or menus, and rearranging them into the form of a poem. Found poetry is collage poetry, more or less
Some years ago many stores sold magnetic words to create fridge poetry. I used to write fridge poetry to my husband, who worked night shift, knowing he’d grab himself some breakfast before going to bed. Ah, the time one has before having children! LOL!
The above poem is from this site, written by Van Waffle, and is included in this blog for teaching purposes only
I’d read somewhere that found poetry, collage poetry and cut-up poetry allows the subconscious an easier portal to release creative energy.
So, for Charlotte’s contest, I decided I wanted to use an Edna St Vincent Millay poem... The Exiled is one of my favourite rhyming poems and its length provided a lot of material for a found poem.
Right away, I saw the word WINTER... and it came to me. Could I turn a poem written about the joys of summer at the seaside and pen a poem about an unbearable winter? Most of the words seemed beach-based.
By Edna St Vincent Millay
SEARCHING my heart for its true sorrow,
This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;
Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
Of the strong wind and shattered spray,
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.
Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging driftwood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet pea.
Always I climbed the wave at morning,
Shook the sand from my shoes at night,
That now am caught beneath big buildings,
Stricken with noise, confused with light.
If I could hear the green piles groaning.
Under the windy, wooden piers,
See once again the bobbing barrels,
And the black sticks that fence the weirs;
If I could see the weedy mussels
Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,
Hear once again the hungry crying
Overhead, of the wheeling gulls;
Feel once again the shanty straining
Under the turning of the tide,
Fear once again the rising freshet,
Dread the bell in the fog outside,
I should be happy!—that was happy
All day long on the coast of Maine.
I have a need to hold and handle
Shells and anchors and ships again.
I should be happy, that am happy.
Never at all since I came here.
I am too long away from water,
I have a need of water near.
So, I found Exiled on line, copy/pasted it into word and enlarged the font considerably. Then I went to work with a pair of scissors.
I was creating a collage and not a “true cut-up” poem, which (to me) is like a Lucy in the sky with diamonds free fall on steroids, so I did the following:
I categorized the words... nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, conjunction. prepositions . etc separated the mass of paper. Just like a quilter may organize patches of patterned fabric into colour groupings.
I found a piece of blue paper to arrange the words.. I wanted each word to stand out for me. GLARE AT ME. It just let me see cause and effect easier.
I started with the subject of the poem as this seemed simplest.
I chose a verb that fit my theme.
I added modifiers...
I continued to do this.. noun .. verb... modifiers...
I’d look it over
I’d shift things around
My work, in progress:
And I kept going... moving this and that, adding, subtracting.
When I finally stopped, I began to shake... realized what I did.
You see, the day after Christmas a sweet little boy named Robbie wandered from his fenced yard, through a gate, and onto the ice of the Nith River, here in town. His body has not yet been found. Locals spent weeks searching for him, and the search has been called off- officially- until spring, But his father walks the riverside every night, looking for a trace. And many here do the same. Come spring, the divers will return. Right now, the ice makes the search near impossible.
There are blue ribbons tied throughout the town, to trees, to car antennas, to fences and lampposts... blue was Robbie’s favourite colour. This is a small town. The loss is felt by everyone.
My poem can be read and understood many ways. Unless I had shared this with you, you would only have seen it being about a long winter.. it was what I had intended to write. But now that you know what has been going on in town, perhaps you will read it differently, too. I’d meant to create a simple rant... instead, I believe my hands chose words based on a deeper need to convey a stronger message...
Winter shattered the city,
marking buildings with sorrow.
I dread the wooden morning:
my black and salty shoes, crusting,
and the wind straining the fence,
again and again,
the shells of confused people, wheeling,
sick of wanting light, wanting green.
All day, I see the weary, searching,
hear the noise of my soft heart,
a stricken sound that breaks overhead
with wild need, loud and true.
If I could reach the dooryard to the day,
turning the handle to a happy-here,
have that sweetpea sweetness once again,
I long for purple rooted near...
Outside, the shook bell is groaning, Maine!
Poetry is such a strange thing. It is begun by the mind but finished by the heart
A special thank you to Charlotte. I haven’t played with word arrangement like this in over six years... thanks for reminding me that it isn’t only about finding the perfect word, but how the word is used in context.
Hugs and love to all,
And I pray that Robbie is found as his family is unable to find closure to this hell that no parent should ever experience
The poem should truly end:
Outside, the shook bell is moaning, Gone
Sites for those who may want to know more about Found poetry:
And here is a lovely site for playing with words