“Found Poetry”

Have you ever written a found poem? My students, especially the reluctant writers, enjoy these poems. Why? Well, because they do not need to come up with original material. Instead, they piece together other authors’ words in a new way. According to Poets.org, “Found poetry takes existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems.”

To use this strategy with a class of primary students, I have students choose a favorite sentence from a book we have read. After writing their sentence on a sentence strip, we place all of the strips on the board and rearrange them until we agree on the order of the sentences. Through this activity, students read and reread consistently, building fluency, and making decisions about the sounds of words/phrases. If students are interested in helping rearrange the phrases, they must formulate a rationale for why they would like to move the phrase, and convince the rest of the class it is the best choice.

For Older Students

Students can do this independently, by choosing a single text or texts on a topic, and piecing together lines, words, or phrases to create a poem on their own. For intermediate and middle school grades, the Library of Congress has a wonderful lesson plan on how students can use primary documents to create found poetry. You can find it here: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/poetry/pdf/teacher_guide.pdf. Older students can also read a passage and extract words and/or phrases that convey the theme and essence of what they have read, piecing together words instead of entire sentences.

I find found poetry interesting because it is like a collage of language. There are so many ways you can integrate visual arts with this form of poetry. I’ve seen amazing examples of found poetry art on Pinterest, where instead of cutting and gluing words together, students made art our of selected words on a piece of text. This is also known as redacted or blackout poetry. (Here’s a great example: http://afaithfulattempt.blogspot.com/2015/04/found-poetry-book-thief.html) Found poetry can also be connected to music when phrases from different compositions are pieced together (i.e. sampling). Students can either analyze music for examples of sampling or create their own original music using samples. However you may choose to use this strategy, it will require students to tap into creative, higher-order thinking!

Next week, I will share an arts integrated lesson that incorporates found poetry, literature, and visual art. Have you tried found poetry with your students? I’d love to hear about how you used it. Comment below!


Found poetry: https://www.flocabulary.com/lesson-found-poetry/

Found poetry art: http://kids-finelines.blogspot.com/2013/10/found-poetry-becomes-art.html