At our Girls Write Now Found Poetry Workshop, I was reminded of why I love poetry so much: It’s honest, unadorned, and so rich with feeling. Being a writer you kind of figure that poetry is just spilling out what you feel onto a page; but often the most inspiring words are the most unexpected. A poem about your favorite place becomes a sacred memory: in this workshop my grandfather became a beacon to lost traveling souls, and his porch in Puerto Rico became a safe haven.
What if a poet comes up with a line you fall in love with, a line you cannot forget? What if it is a line that sparks you to create your own poem? Amazingly, such a type of poetry exists. Found Poetry is poetry that takes words from somewhere else and reorganizes them to form a new creation. Whether with a single line or a whole paragraph, we writers have this innate ability to let our unique voices be heard, separately or together.
My fellow talents and I (mentees and mentors) sat together in a circle and faced a large paragraph of words we hadn’t seen before. We then crafted what is called an erasure poem, which is created by removing words from another author’s piece. In those moments, when we yelled out to get rid of this word, or leave that word, I felt that I was a part of something fabulous. It was the first time that I was getting to know my fellow mentees through their writing.
Next was the invented translation poem, which is created by using words written in another language and translating them into your own poem based on sounds, without any consideration for what the words actually mean. It’s almost like you’re breaking the rules, but the wonderful thing about poetry is that there are no rules. None of us know Swedish, but we all know how to write. We came up with phrases like “somber omelet caravan” (I’ll never forget that one), and somehow every line included something about a bird.
We ended the workshop, of course, with an all encompassing, fundamental question to catapult us into our weeks before we’d meet again: What is Poetry to you? The answer can be complicated, separating the sane from the insane, and yet so beautifully simple:
Truth. Love. Laughter. Life.