Poet Idra Novey gives a craft talk at the 2011 Found Poetry Workshop. Video production by Figment.com
“From a poem comes a poem,” began the Found Poetry Workshop. Mentees and mentors spent the day finding inspiration where they least expected it — in a phrase read backwards, in scientific text, in the unknown words of a Swedish poem, in lines we borrowed from one another — and used them like pieces of a collage to paste together a surprisingly new and original poem.
We learned what an erasure poem is: you start with a source text and delete words or phrases not wanted until what remains is a poem. Using a website designed to create erasure poems, 60 poets painstakingly deleted one word at a time until we were left with beautiful relics like this:
this bellowing comes every hundred years And the mountain is sick
Poet Matthea Harvey shared with us her unique perspective on words, and poet Idra Novey spoke of the power of poetry to take us out of our own lives and into another’s, if only for a stanza or two.
We translated from Swedish, using only the look and sound of the words, and formed groups, taking turns writing line after line until a collaborative poem was born. Then we each selected another author’s line, on which to base a brand new found poem. We lost our old preconceptions about poetry, and we found a new way to be inspired.
This year’s Found Poetry workshop was held in honor of poet, mentor, and teacher Audry McGinn.
From The Workshop
Found Poetry by Sophia Chan
Scraps will beg
someday I will see
farewell my son
battling in rags
constant cry of bitter passion
tie me down
no longer will I sit silent
decked out in drag
Idra Novey is an American poet, professor, and translator. She is author of The Next Country (Alice James Books, 2008), which was a Kinereth Gensler Award winner and received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and the translation The Clean Shirt…
Matthea Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf, 2004) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000). Her third book of poems, Modern Life (Graywolf, 2007) was a finalist for the…