Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Found poetry 1

I've been thinking a lot about poetry in the last several months.  Since my last college English class I have never done much of that, but for some reason I got interested in "found haiku," an art form that I don't suppose I invented but have not seen done by other people. 

You tear a page from a book, then search for three phrases -- five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables -- that make some kind of interesting "poem."  Then cut or black out everything else on the page.  I started finding haiku more than a year ago, and then this year started using them for art, mounting them on backgrounds and perhaps collaging them with other elements. 

Part of the impetus for doing more with the poems was joining an internet group that does a fiber art haiku every month based on a common theme.  I asked to join with the understanding that I would not write my own poem, as everybody else did, but use a found poem.  I've enjoyed that greatly; haven't exactly made great art but it gets me working once a month and has been a good discipline in practicing with my collage. (Click here to see what I've made in this group.)

Then I got the idea to do a daily art project with found haiku.  Each day I find a story in the newspaper with an illustration.  I cut out the photo, and then look for my three haiku phrases somewhere in the story and make a little composition in a sketchbook.  I've just finished the first book of 50 days, and plan to do another book this year. 

This approach is different in a couple of subtle ways from the full-book-page poems.  It's a bit easier in that you do have the freedom to arrange the phrases any way you want, rather than use them in the order they appeared in the original.  But it's more difficult because newspaper columns are much narrower than book pages, and many appetizing phrases don't all fall on one line. Sometimes it's hard to find any lines at all with seven syllables!

Here are a couple of my favorite pages.



  1. Dear Kathy,
    Love the haiku and the collages. Do you know about this poet? http://www.austinkleon.com/category/newspaper-blackout-poems/ Great minds thinking alike!

    Linda Laird

  2. I'm really enjoying these... each a gem. I know another person who sometimes writes poetry (she calls them "stolen words") from the first phrases of blogs. It definitely takes talent.

  3. Hi Linda! yes, somebody else pointed me to his work after I started doing the cutout poems. On my to-do list is to try a poem using his method -- I'll let you know how that works out.