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Found Poetry

A few lessons on found poetry - focusing on "Blackout Poetry" and "Book Spine Poetry". For Grades 7-10.

Antonina Siemionow

on 30 November 2014

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Transcript of Found Poetry

Found Poetry
Blackout Poetry
Book Spine Poetry
What is Found Poetry?
"Blackout Poetry" is created simply by 'blacking out' large portions of a newspaper article (or text) and leaving behind a few deliberate words to make a poem.
What is Blackout Poetry?
A few basic examples...
How to make your own Blackout Poem
Firstly, find a piece of text to use.
Newspapers are a good choice because they're cheap and no one cares if you scribble all over them.

However, novels and non-fiction books are also great subject matter. If you like, you can always photocopy a page or use one of your own books from home.

Step 1
Step 2
Loosen up. Don't worry about making a mistake or messing up your poem. That's the great thing about art – if you like it, then it's all good.

This is supposed to be fun, after all.

Step 3
DON'T read the article or passage right away. Instead, scan and look for an "anchor" word – a word that jumps out at you. That word will guide the direction of your poem.

After you've found your anchor word, then read the full text, looking for connecting words.
Step 4
Realise that some articles/pages just won't work. Don't fret. Just move on to another slice of text.
“I like to think of blackout poems like those old Word Search puzzles we used to do in elementary school; a field of letters with hidden messages to find.”

– Austin Kleon, word artist
Step 5
Remember, your poem will be read from left to right and top to bottom.

Don't confuse your reader.

Step 6
If you want to get a little fancy, turn your poem into an illustration.

(Doodles work great, too!)
Grab a newspaper or old book.
Grab a marker.
Get inspired.
What is Book Spine Poetry?
It’s a kind of poetry that you don’t really write from scratch – instead, you “find” it by arranging book titles to make a poem. This type of poem can be serious or funny, just like in regular poetry.

Some Examples...
When you have several finished book spine poems, you can document them by taking pictures.
First, you’ll need some books. The best place to create book spine poetry is in a library, where you’ll have access to all the books you need!
Step 1
Step 2
Next, you’ll need a pencil and paper. Choose one small area of the library to work in, so that you don’t get overwhelmed. If you tried to use all of the book titles in the whole library, it might take you weeks to write your poems!
Walk around the small area that you’ve chosen, looking for interesting book titles, and write down the best ones. As you write down titles, you might notice some that seem to go together to tell a funny or interesting story.
Step 3

It’s probably not a good idea to pull down every single book that has a good title, which would make a huge pile for the poor librarian to put away later.
Step 4
Once you have an idea which books you’ll need for three or four poems, then it’s time to actually pull out those books and set them on a table. You’ll be able to move around the books in order to change the order of the titles until you find the arrangement that sounds the best. If there is a missing “line” in your poem, it’s okay to use the card catalog or ask a librarian for help in locating a book title that would be just right.
Step 5
A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.
Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.
Now it's your turn!
Wander round.
Grab some books.
Start stacking!
The two types of found poetry we will be looking at over the next few lessons will be:

Blackout Poetry &
Book Spine Poetry
By Ms A. Siemionow
English Faculty
Updated 2014
Now, it's your turn!
Full transcript