Found Poetry

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I’m teaching a found poetry workshop: The Found Poetry Project, at next June’s Squam Art Workshops Retreat, which has got me thinking (ok obsessing) about ‘found’ poetry in all its guises; from the literal finding or overhearing of words to the more slippery forms of ‘found’ poetry: erasure or palimpsest, dialoguing with other works of literature, list poetry, postcard and photo prompt poems and this poem by poet and friend Amy Dryansky on her Pokey Mama blog. Click on the first link: ‘Zoe Deschanel & the Narrative Arc’ and scroll down to just after the dress made of poetry (speaking of ‘found’ poems) to find “Soul Accounting”. When I first read this poem in Dryansky’s amazing collection Grass Whistle, I thought “wow, it sounds so much like Emily Dickinson” so I was either off my game, not recognizing E.D’s lines, or operating at the subconscious, intuitive level, because, Yes! they are E.D’s lines, first lines to be exact. Dryansky compiled the entire poem of first lines from Dickinson poems. It’s a stunner. Read it. Now, back to that poetry dress; I’m intrigued by the idea of incorporating poetry into traditional forms of women’s handwork and craft. I’ve been working on a quilt kind of like this but bigger, incorporating diary entries from Esther Small’s diary, as well as photos of rural decay, transferred onto fabric. I’m trying to use vintage fabric in the piecing, or otherwise distressed fabrics, with bits of lace or florals in the mix to show the feminine hand, but the overall feel of the piece is dark, the stitching is a kind of suturing (actually a blanket stitch) as of wounds. There are also transferred images of Civil War soldiers from Esther’s husband’s regiment. I’ll let you know if I ever finish it. I’m also trying to figure out how to weave lines of poetry, also printed on fabric, in narrow strips into a lap loom weaving, so that the words peek out strategically. I’d like to accompany some of the poems from my upcoming collection with these pieces of traditional handwork for the launch and readings. We’ll see…. So, somewhere between jotting notes for my found poetry workshop, feeling envious of Dryansky’s writing abilities and trying to figure out how to sew poetry, I created these little mini magnetic poetry kits for my Etsy shop. They’re made in an Altoids-sized box, either painted or decoupaged. The first one above was decoupaged with a vintage map of Paris. The ‘found’ poetry on the top of the box is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese” and the inside contains magnetic letters. Voi la, portable poetry! I’m working on one right now with images and text from a vintage copy of Beauty and the Beast. And yes, there will be an Emily Dickinson inspired one sooner or later. I just need to find an old copy of her collected-original- punctuation-messed-with poems to deface. If anyone out there has cool found poetry ideas or prompts, or something along the lines of the poetry dress- traditional handwork melded with poetry-  I’d love to hear it.

Time Capsule Poetry

time-capsuleDrawing of a Green Peace time capsule, 2009

Time capsules. Am I the only person fascinated by the idea of a container which simultaneously transports the past and the future? The past for those opening a time capsule, the future for those assembling one. I’m guessing there’s a few of you out there who are obsessed with the idea as well. The recent discovery (in the head of a lion statue) and unsealing of a 113 year old time capsule in Boston turned up a mysterious red book. Sadly, the mysterious book turned out to be just a plain old book, nothing too intriguing, but I think we all hope to hear of a time capsule that contains a stunning discovery. Someone please write a mystery revolving around the making and subsequent opening of a time capsule. Check out this list of lost time capsules to get your gears turning. Better yet, someone assemble an interesting time capsule, blessedly short on photos of politicians and ‘letters to the future’. Let’s make a mystery time capsule, kind of like a choose your own adventure book in objects. Ok, ok, that’s all the good ideas I’m giving out for free. But, I’ll leave you with a poetry prompt and poem. Write a poem titled: Time Capsule of (fill in the blank). There can be literal objects in this time capsule, more esoteric ‘items’, a combination of both. Choose a period in your history and assemble a time capsule poem of the raw material. Mine is family based. Good luck and I want to hear that at least one of you is beginning The Time Capsule Mystery.

Time Capsule of the Broken Family

contains a condo in perfect miniature,

wall to wall carpet, a papazan chair

with orange cushion like an enormous

pancake, a used VHS player. This capsule

contains order, cleanliness. In order

and cleanliness we achieve control. Control

is the goal, so the capsule also contains

obsessive exercise regimes, 500 calorie-a-day

diets, one powerful vacuum cleaner used

four times a week, new throw pillows,

and all things strongly scented: candles,

potpourri, deodorizing sprays, pine sol, bleach.

Some days you might catch the scent of pressure-

cooked meat and cabbage, or cat box. But we

have more bleach and mom said let the potpourri

boil ‘til the pan burns dry; scrape the black petals

out with a knife. My father is gone and I feel

unsafe. But my mother just got back

from the gym; she’s down on her knees cleaning.