Found Poems, From Your Own Material?

The wisdom of the Academy of American Poets website defines a found poem as “poems [that] take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.”

The Academy continues with “A pure found poem consists exclusively of…” But let’s not go there.

Pilfering through my old notebooks, I am finding work that I don’t remember jotting down. Sometimes I can’t even read my own handwriting. I nod my head at poems I remember the drafts for and wince at some of the lines I had forgotten. But found poems got me wondering if you can create found poems from your own work.

Does making poems out of your old poems just become recycling, editing or revising? To celebrate old notebooks coming to light, I wanted to post some raw material.

Lucia Perillo says that writing poetry is a narcissistic act. Does creating new poems from my old poems make me completely self obsessed?

Here are some of the unedited lines from my past. Do with them as you will.

“They took us through a traveling tour ten miles up the road. Offered us coffee too hot to drink in a lobby too uncomfortable to sit in. Wicker furniture. Rattan. Cheap decor lit with a gas fireplace. Smell of dairy cattle and frying hamburgers.”


“Know your directions before you go. For there is nothing on the horizon to help you keep your bearings. And the women here with blue eyeliner under each stare, proud in their forms, wear bright dresses over their curves to protest the flatness of this place.”

Posted in better forgotten, doggerel, editing, found poems, lucia perillo, musing, old notebooks, poetry, revising.

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