When the group met this week we shared some favorite poems and what about them appeals to us: Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken for its myriad interpretations; Dorothy Parker’s Men and One Perfect Rose for their relatably cynical humor; Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky for its delightful nonsense that nonetheless manages to make itself perfectly understood; and Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese for the quiet reassurance it offers.
After that we did a couple found poetry exercises. Here’s the handout we used if you missed the meeting and would like to try your own. It explains some of the nuances of found poetry and offers some ideas to get you started. Poetry can be a little daunting to write if you’re new to it, or if it’s been a while. Playing with somebody else’s vocabulary and syntax can help you overcome that mental block or break old habits. The words are right there and all you need to do is arrange them.
Here you can learn about the history of found poetry and several more approaches and styles you can try. And here’s a really cool example of erasure poetry. While a found poem can stand alone and be an excellent piece all on its own, it can also serve as a conversation with its source material.
We used Sharpies and leftover handouts to make blackout poems. Some of the poems that emerged from this exercise were surprisingly coherent, while others read like fever dreams (which isn’t necessarily a negative). The visual aspect of blackout poetry can be very satisfying and sometimes yields some striking mixed media pieces. The bleed-through of the markers even created some erratic bonus poetry on the backs of some of our papers.
We also made our own magnetic poetry kits! Here’s a tutorial if you’d like to make one yourself. There are also online magnetic poetry kits you can play with—no refrigerator required. Some of us composed our poems first and applied each word to a magnet, which could make for some interesting rearrangements later on. Others chose random words first and then began to arrange our poems, creating more words (or word endings) as needed on the extra magnets. Different writers, different methods, different words—all in all an interesting group activity.
Now that we’ve loosened our poetic muscles a bit, let’s try to write some new poems this week to share next time. We’ll meet again on Monday, April 15th at 5pm.