Essay / Art

Found Poem: Wrong Way — Right Way

Wrong Way — Right Way

An Invitation

A Paycheck

Sinners All The World What Death Is
Rejecting Ignoring

A Stopped Watch All-Seeing
“Be Ye Ready”

Heaven No Savior Substitute An Anchor

My Glasses Dark Glasses

A Grade Book A Love Letter Mosquito Bites The Shadow

How To Eat Necessary Parts
Safe Keeping Clean

A Bad Light Bulb
A Good Light Bulb
A Broken Fingernail

Windows All Dressed Up
Not Yours
All To Him My Heart An Onion

Tearing Down or Building Up
Light Bulbs

Mind Your Mind When Your Dog Wags Its Tail at You

Wrong Label
You Can’t Change History

A found poem is a collection of words written by somebody else, “re-purposed” as poetry and presented with the conventions of a literary art object. Most found poems are hijacked bits of pop culture, kept intact but recontextualized for effect: Think William Shatner on the Conan show, smirking his way through a recitation of a Sarah Palin speech, to the accompaniment of a bass and bongo. But another type of found poem is more of a collage, which gives the “finder” considerably more room for editorial judgment. I first met them in Annie Dillard’s collection Mornings Like This, where she extracts poems from field guides, scout manuals, indices, and other unlikely sources.

My source for this poem was the table of contents from Charles C. Ryrie’s Object Lessons: 100 Lessons from Everyday Life.

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