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Visual and Found Poetry

Sarah is a certified Hatha, Vinyasa, & Kundalini yoga teacher. She is an artist who believes in the importance of living a creative life.


Finding a Poem

Found poetry, which can also be a form a visual poetry, is when you take an exististing text and rearrange it, highlight it, cut it out, or in some other way alter it to make an original poem. I got into making these types of poems after I discovered the art of altering books. It is a lot of fun to look at a page and see what words jump out at you and what you can do with them. You can also use pretty much anything to create these collage poems: letters, speeches, and even other poems. Here are a few examples of found poems that I have come across. I encourage you to experiment and make your own!

Hidden Poems

Poetry is all around you, ready for you to bring out the words and create it! Perhaps you are on the train and notice a discarded newspaper laying beside you. What can you do? Sure you can read the old news but then what? Take a highlighter and highlight all of the words and phrases that jump out at you. What sounds nice to the ear or resonates with you? You don't have to choose words simply because they are beautiful words that seem pretty. Not all poems are about pretty thing after all. Experiment by looking for words that are jarring to your senses. When you are done (perhaps after you have reached your destination) cut out or write down everything you have highlighted. I guarantee you will find some delightful combinations. Feel free to insert your own words as well. The possibilities for unveiling new meaning is endless.

Where to Look

Once you begin crafting your own found poetry, you will soon notice that there is an infinite source of material all around! Text is everywhere, in the form of posters, pamphlets, receipts, books, mail, newspapers, and more. Notice how the language and word choice vary greatly depending on what you are looking at. For example, a page from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" will be very different from a newspaper sports article. It can be a lot of fun looking for different sources of text. Library's are a great place to look for used books that are free or low cost. Experiment with junk mail, old memos, and other forms of text that you may typically throw away. Creating found poems is a great way to give words a new life.


Combat Writer's Block

Found poetry is also an excellent way to combat writer's block. Have you ever found yourself staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, just not quite sure what to say or where to begin? Using pre-existing text, like in these found poems, can be a helpful way to ease back into the creative process. It is easier to edit and re-arrange words if you already have words right in front of you! This form of poetry can be helpful for those who have a hard time getting started because it is a very visual process. Your brain will begin to make connections between words, and before you know it, you will have more than enough ideas. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and enjoy the process!

Writing Poetry

Questions & Answers

Question: How do you find a good book to make visual poetry?

Answer: I typically like to use damaged and used books if I plan on cutting the pages. You can usually find these for free or an inexpensive cost at libraries and some book stores. You could even put the word out to friends and family who may have books already they have been trying to get rid of. You can also use anything with text such as newspapers, magazines, and even junk mail.


Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on September 14, 2020:

That's great! Best of luck to you!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 23, 2020:

Sarah, yes I do. I am doing my best to publsh later.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on June 23, 2020:

Miebakagh, I am glad you found the article motivating! I hope you find it as much fun as I do. Happy writing!

Anne on June 13, 2020:

For the poem about love, which book did you use?

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 25, 2020:

Sarah, I do not know such a process exists. It will motivate me to write more poems. Thanks for sharing the tips.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on May 13, 2020:

Thank you, Tim! I hope you have fun finding some poems.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 06, 2020:

Wonderful and insightful.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on March 23, 2020:

Thank you for your positive feedback! I can definitely see how this would benefit children, what a great idea.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on March 23, 2020:

Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it, and hope you will be inspired to create some visual poetry of your own.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 01, 2020:

I've just come back to this and still find it intriguing. It gives a refreshing outlook.

I've used it with children who don't write or spell well and passed it on to others.


Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on March 01, 2020:

Good read!

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on December 22, 2018:

Thank you! I'm so glad you like the idea. I hope you have lots of fun creating your own visual poetry!!

PoetikalyAnointed on December 21, 2018:

Hello Sarah,

This idea is Absolutely Genius! I've never thought of doing this but it's something that I must try now! This is a very creative, fun, challenging and clever way to express yourself poetically.

Thanks for sharing.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on June 07, 2012:

@mollymeadows Thank you so much! You are absolutely right about how one text can lead to many different poems depending on the poet. I'm glad you found it interesting! :)

Mary Strain from The Shire on June 07, 2012:

Chipped teacup (love the name, BTW) these are really creative. Five poets could get five totally different poems from the same page of text, and the visual presentation is attractive and unusual. Up and interesting!

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on June 07, 2012:

@annart Thank you! I'm glad that you find the idea so useful...you have some great ideas yourself that I never considered before. Have fun playing and teaching with words! :)

Ann Carr from SW England on June 07, 2012:

Brilliant! Don't know why I haven't come across something like this before; like all good ideas, it's simple. This would be great to use for literacy lessons too, with any children but especially dyslexics. You can aim it at any level and see the benefits; recognising words, choosing which ones, using them without having to write them - I'm going to use this idea again and again and again! Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

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