by Louise Robertson


As you can tell, I am all for forms that help you write and write better poems. How many times have I said something like, “This form practically writes itself!” Well, most of them do not really do that. But there is a form that takes a really keen eye and an ear for what is good and true about poetry and, once you have that, it really does write itself. That is the Found Poem.

A found poem is basically a piece of writing that you find that is not meant to be a poem or even, really, written art at all. It could be the DVD player manual or the recipe for crab cakes, just so long as it becomes poetic when lifted up and pronounced poem. I once found a nasty little found poem on the back of a tampon dispenser and I snickered every time I saw it. (O, to be the copy writer for that product.)

So onward to examples. I’m using found poems presented and preformed excellently by Vernell Bristow and Rachel Wiley. They are awesome poets local to Columbus which afforded me the opportunity to witness them at open mics. The first, found/written by Vernell Bristow was the transcript of 2004 Democratic Convention producer Don Mischer. It was broadcast on CNN accidentally. Anyway, here is Mischer trying to get things going for the dramatic conclusion of the nomination of John Kerry

Go balloons. Go balloons. Stand by confetti. Keep coming balloons. More balloons. More balloons. Balloons balloons balloons. Go balloons. Let ’em all come. No confetti. No confetti yet. No confetti.

Go balloons. Go balloons. All balloons. All balloons. Come on now, let’s move it. More balloons. I want all balloons to go, goddammit. Go confetti. Go confetti. Go confetti. I want all balloons. Go balloons. We need more balloons. We need all of them coming down.

Go, balloons. Balloons. What’s happening balloons? There’s not enough coming down. All balloons! Why the hell is nothing falling? What the fuck are you guys doing up there? We want more balloons coming down. More balloons. More balloons.

The poem found/written by Rachel Wiley:

Found Poem from Craigslist missed connections.

who put the dead bird in my mailbox? – w4m

Date: 2008-04-20, 12:56PM EDT

a) how did you get into my mailbox in the first place, it is locked
b) did you kill the bird
c) it died horribly, that much was clear
d) you’re psycho
e) do I know you
f) if I do know you I don’t want to know you
g) if I don’t know you, what did I do to inspire you to put a dead
bird in my mailbox
h) I don’t know how to disinfect a mailbox from a dead bird, I’m
worried about diseases and have used five different kinds of cleaner
but still feel like the bird’s still in there still and like my bills
and my catalogues and my coupons have dead bird on them
i) it was a hummingbird, I looked it up – they don’t even live in New
York – this is so f*ing psycho, I can’t believe this
j) are you the mailman?
k) I’m always nice to the mailman
l) the super didn’t care when I told him what happened
m) the neighbors didn’t care either
n) do you have some kind of problem with birds
o) don’t put anything else in my mailbox
p) unless it’s an apology
q) no, I take that back, I don’t even want an apology
r) what am I supposed to do with this bird – it’s in bubblewrap in a
bag in a shoebox in the freezer right now – am I supposed to bury it –
where? how? in a construction site where they’ve jackhammered through
the concrete – where is a person supposed to bury things in this city?
s) I could drop it in the Gowanus canal, but that seems undignified
t) I could drop it in the ocean, but the ocean is so big and it is
such a small bird
u) I could drop it in the toilet but it would probably get stuck
v) I hear this whirring around my ears every time I go to the mailbox
and I’m pretty sure it’s ghost bird, and I’m all “it wasn’t me that
killed you, bird!” but still the whirring doesn’t go away until I get
to the stairwell
w) am I supposed to eat it – maybe you were trying to feed me – don’t
you know I’m a vegetarian
x) if this was Ricky, I’m gonna beat your ass, mama told you stop
bothering the zoo
y) if this was Gina, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, how many times I gotta say I’m sorry
z) I could drop it off the roof, maybe it will reincarnate while
falling and I can start reading my mail again


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