Found Poems

Found Poems can be a great way to engage students in writing poems in a no-risk fashion. A found poem is a poem that you construct using words from a text that already exists–perhaps even a text of your own. The process takes a few steps, but the end result is worth it. The essence of poetry can be found in its simplicity. The creation of a found poem captures this essence.
To create a found poem:
Find a piece of text that interests you. What text? Sky’s the limit! A book you love, a great story you wrote, a memoir you wrote or read, a menu, a headline, the classified ads…you get the idea.
Choose words from the text and isolate them–cut them out or write them down–onto a blank sheet of paper–maybe 50-100 words. No rule here–as many or as few as you like.
Arrange the words into a new poem that sounds wonderful to your reading ear.
Design it if you wish!
Give it as a gift!

I have used this strategy with 6th graders, preservice teachers, and practicing teachers in my graduate courses. If any of you are following this blog, you will remember how much fun we had with this activity, and some of you have even let me know that you have engaged your own students in “finding poems” through close reading and wonderful imagination.

Here are some examples from former students! You may not be able to read all of the words, but you can gather the intensity and joy of the process!


…and a couple of my own..

A poem I found from one of my own writer's notebook entries.

A poem I found from one of my own writer’s notebook entries.

A poem about summer campfires in Michigan that I found from words in a travel magazine.

A poem about summer campfires in Michigan that I found from words in a travel magazine.     


Writing as Bread-Baking…

My oldest brother is a talented bread maker–all things bread…pretzels, bagels, rolls, popovers, muffins, and of course,…bread. I have both envied and marveled at the process and products of his labors. I have also stood right next to him, observing, asking questions, prodding him for the secrets to his success. As a writer and teacher of writers, I can stand back from my thirst to know and learn his talents, and understand that what appears to be effortless truly is not; he has worked the better part of his life at becoming the master that he is. I see a parallel between his craft and the craft of writing. Time, dedication, practice, trust, risk-taking, imagination, intuition, and tenacity are elements common to the craft of artisinal bread making and to the craft of writing.


Do you have other “metaphors” for writing???