Finding poetry in text..

I have previously posted about found poems. Found poetry can be a “safe” way to inspire confidence and motivation in student writers, for they need not compose original text, but use their interest and imaginative bent to “find” text. When visually presented with “found” or original images, the newly crafted found poem can be powerful. While searching for something else yesterday I came across a found poem that I wrote as a model for a group of my graduate students in Virginia. If any of you treasured Virginians read this blog, you may actually recall my poem.

I am a voracious reader and collector of the journals and diaries of pioneer women. Fascinated and buoyed by their strengths, their faith, their amazing abilities. The poem below originates from sentences, phrases and passages from assorted pioneer women journals and diaries. While the original words are not mine, the final product is original in its compilation and meaning.

Text can be found anywhere and everywhere! One of the latest trends in teaching comprehension is the idea of close reading. Students DO closely read when they search for words, phrases and passages to “lift” to create a found poem.

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I am going with him…

I am going with him, as there is no other alternative

I was possessed with a spirit of adventure and a desire to see what was new and strange

I make sunshine out of shadows,

so are the long, unpredictable days that grip me but do not claim me

Sometimes I get away from hearing distance and fall onto the unfriendly desert and sob like a child

Wishing myself back home with friends


I have cooked so much out in the sun and the smoke

I hardly know who I am,

When I look into the little looking glass, I ask “Can this be me?”

Lips blistered and split in dry air, axle grease the only remedy

My hair dry, snarled, dirty and lifeless


The camp work done…

Evening time to school children, sing and dance and to tell stories around the campfire

Sleep is a gift


Perils along the way

We passed a lonely nameless grave on the prairie on the afternoon

Headboard at least it had

It called up a sad train of thoughts, to be buried and left alone

In so wild a country

No one to plant a flower or time to shed a tear

Over one’s grave

Deaths and graves, commonplace

Families move on, vanishing in the mists of history

Leaving behind the dead


Up at dawn, on the road by seven,

Breakfast of coffee, bacon, dry bread

Noon stop for a cold meal, coffee, beans, if lucky bacon or buffalo prepared of a morning

Fifteen miles a day, walk nearly all the way


Weather can be deadly-

Thunderstorms, lethally large hailstones, lightning, tornadoes, high winds

Intense desert heat causes wood to shrink and wagon wheels have to be soaked in rivers at night

Dust on trail two or three inches deep, fine as flour

River crossings dangerous, unseen rocks, muddy bottoms, unseen holes

Unforgiving mountains

Slow but steady progress


I have dreamed of being attacked by wolves and bears

The heart has a thousand misgivings

The mind is tortured with anxiety

I pass fresh made graves and glance at the sideboard of the wagon,

Not knowing how soon it might serve as a coffin for some one of us….

Weeping skies, and me, also weeping

I pick wildflowers on the prairie

Nature calms where the mind cannot…

I am going with him….there is no other alternative

………………pstockinger 2010

     slat-bonnet                                                                 51Cx5ttOhEL

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One of my Found Poems

Found Poetry can be a safe and motivating entry into writing for students. The challenge and excitement of finding words and images from texts to create an original piece can move students to thinking like writers even as they read and view.

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