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A CLOSER LOOK AT FOUND POETRY - Cyndi MacMillan's Blog

About Cyndi MacMillan
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Cyndi MacMillan's current projects include three children's book series. Her "life as a writer' blogs can be read at  https://cyndimacmillan.wordpress.com/  Three of her poems have been published in Room magazine, issue 49.4, This Body's Maps, https://roommagazine.com/issues/bodys-map  Two poems have been published in the Prairie Journal ( Issue 67)http://www.prairiejournal.org/subscribe.html   Other poems can be found in Fieldstone Review, Issue 2015 http://www.fieldstonereview.usask.ca/article.php?article=167, Grain Magazine, issue 42.4, Summer 2015, Passed Signs/New Fields http://www.grainmagazine.ca/424  , The Steel Chisel, April 2016, http://www.thesteelchisel.ca/april2016_07.html.  The Centrifugal Eye, Spring 2016, the Unformed issue  http://www.centrifugaleye.com/ . She participated in the 20 Poem Challenge at The Ekphrastic Review: Writing and Art on Art and Writing, and twelve of her poems have been published by the journal.http://www.ekphrastic.net/apps/search?q=Cyndi+MacMillan.

Her fiction has appeared in local newspapers and has won contests. Her short story, Missed Steps, is forthcoming in the Windsor Review. She enjoys reading literary journals, and she is actively pursuing further publication within their glossy covers while writing chapter books and early middle readers.

Poetry soup is a friendly forum which enables people from around the world to share their writing. It has some great resources and provides a nice space for people to connect.

Cyndi lives in a small town in Ontario with her husband, young daughter and far too many books.

.


A CLOSER LOOK AT FOUND POETRY


Blog Posted:3/27/2014 9:09:00 PM

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!

 

soft bruise on concrete/purple lace shadow of what/blossomed long ago

 

The above poem is from this site, written by Van Waffle, and is included in this blog for teaching purposes only

 

http://www.vanwaffle.com/2012/10/23/magnetic-poetry-autumn-haiku/

 

 

 

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.

 

The Poem:

 

THE EXILED

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:

 

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. I started with the subject of the poem as this seemed simplest.

  4. I chose a verb that fit my theme.

  5. I added modifiers...

  6. I continued to do this.. noun .. verb... modifiers...

  7. I’d look it over

  8. I’d shift things around

My work, in progress:

 

Photo

 

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...

 

Doug Coxson, Independent staff

 

 

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,

Cyndi

 

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:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/aug/09/poster-poems-found-poetry-cutup-collage

 

http://verbatimpoetry.blogspot.ca/

 

http://poeticbloomings.com/2014/02/26/inform-poets-found-poetry/

 

And here is a lovely site for playing with words

 

http://play.magneticpoetry.com/poem/Poet/kit/

 

Please Login to post a comment
Date: 4/1/2014 12:10:00 AM
You really found something so meaningful in the process.
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Date: 3/30/2014 10:31:00 AM
Very educative, profound and a real poetic write, Cindy. I agree with Craig that let there be many more like you on the PS
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Date: 3/28/2014 7:39:00 PM
Yup I did it like that TOO! TWINS!
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Date: 3/28/2014 12:46:00 PM
This is a cool blog, Cyndi, although the tribute is very sad....I feel for the family and community. There is a message in this blog which obviously transcends the cut-up/found technique, and is applicable to all modes of artistic expression. Yeah, the cut-up technique can be an almost shocking catharsis for the subconscious mind. When I read your poem, I chose it as a 1st place. Charlotte's contest inspired me to attempt another one of my 'polished cut-up' poems, even if I figured it couldn't be entered into the contest. So I thank Charlotte for that. Did you notice how my comment that was left on your poem, included sections of the cut-up I was experimenting with(before it was completed)?
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Date: 3/28/2014 11:46:00 AM
I should add a PS Cyndi.Even better to W C Williams 'just to say' was the poem he created 'Dear Bill' from the reply note thereto Perhaps the perfect example of 'found poetry' from a 'name' poet'.Have a good weekend.Rgds Brian
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Date: 3/28/2014 9:30:00 AM
Ps.....I pray for that little boy, and to all those who are lost, and for the grieving parents, loved ones, who must live with such pain and agony while they wait for news. I can't imagine such heartache.
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Date: 3/28/2014 9:28:00 AM
In many ways, Cyndi, I found myself doing something quite similar as you, while writing my cut-up version for Charlotte's contest. I loved this challenge so much, but I think the secret lies in finding a source that moves you deeply. Instead (as you did) of using words from one magnificent poem, I went through pages and pages of many poems by the same author (WS Merwin), and found phrases that held meaning for me. Laying them all out, suddenly I was taken back to a few times in my life when I was called to carefully sort through a loved one's belongings. The poem just sprang to life.
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Date: 3/28/2014 8:07:00 AM
had been used, meter had been incorporated, and words had been changed at a later date; I just felt all these things were getting a bit too far away from a true cut-up...but I'm planning on hosting another contest for surrealist poetry at a later date, which will allow for a broader range and style of poems...once again, thank YOU for entering such a great piece :)
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Date: 3/28/2014 8:03:00 AM
and what impressed me with jack jordan's poem was that he managed to convey a real mood and create something fairly coherent, whilst at the same time preserving the rawness of the cut-up...reading suzette's comment below, I feel I perhaps didn't make my intentions for this contest terribly clear: I added 'word collage' to the contest title, but probably should've left it at 'cut-up', because really I was after more of the 'lucy in the sky' effect, but I said I would include pieces that had been arranged more coherently, though I did exclude a cento because I felt that was a little too ordered in that it used whole intact lines...I also excluded pieces where repetition of the words
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Date: 3/28/2014 7:56:00 AM
where to start with this subject, cyndi, we could be here all day! but I'll try to make it brief...knowing the back story to your poem certainly gives it an extra dimension, and makes it all the more incredible, at least for me; now I know why I homed in on that line 'shells of confused people'...as I said to someone, the end result with these cut-ups does depend largely on where the words come from e.g. if they are taken from poems it will tend to produce a much more poetical piece than, say, words taken from junk mail, newspapers, etc.; both you and carrie took your words from other poems and it produced stunning results
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Date: 3/28/2014 2:43:00 AM
Cyndi,W C Williams imagist poem 'This is just to say' is perhaps the most famous example of 'a message poem' this was a short message to his wife.My phrasis structured prose is a variation of your interesting topic on the 'collage' approach to creativity ,it has been an inspiring stimulation to my endeavours over the past year and there are many examples in my anthology here for those interested.Trust the book is going well?Rgds Brian
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Date: 3/28/2014 2:23:00 AM
Love your blog, Cyndi - interesting. It is a pitty that Charlotte did not name requirements for her contest FOUND POETRY. It would have been clearer. CENTO is akin to FOUND. Love, Su
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