Publish date:

Found Poetry: Poetic Forms

Learn more about found poetry, including guidelines and approaches for writing this poetic form and an example poem.

Here's one of my earliest published poems from a 2006 issue of Children, Churches & Daddies.

"RE: your hips"

OK
time to get serious...

Don't you think it's about time you dropped a few pounds?

No diet, No exercise...
No BS,
Only safe, substantial results in a few weeks,
period.

It only takes 24 bucks
to see if this is what you've been searching for
the last few years...
we bet it is.

This poem is not my typical style. In fact, I had very little involvement in composing this poem outside of how the line breaks were structured. This is a "found" poem that was originally a spam message found in my e-mail inbox.

What Is Found Poetry?

Found poetry is all about taking words not originally meant to be a poem (as they originally appeared) and turning those words into a poem anyway. You can use newspaper articles, bits of conversation (something I've done more than a few times with my 4 and 6 year olds), instructions, recipes, letters, e-mails, direct mail and even spam e-mail (they had to have some value, eh).

With found poetry, you do not alter the original words, but you can make line breaks and cut out excess before and/or after the poem you've "found." The power of found poetry is how words not intended as poetry can take on new and profound meanings as found poems.

For instance, the spam e-mail I received above gave me a little chuckle at first. But then, the content stuck with me, and I began thinking about two different sides of this message. First, obesity is more of a widespread problem now than at any other time in human history. Second, more people have eating disorders (whether eating too much or too little) and body image issues now than, perhaps, at any other time in human history, too.

As a result, this poorly crafted spam message that was intended to try and get people to check out some dietary product takes on a much more powerful commentary as a found poem. For some, it will draw a smile. For others, it will speak to the problems of overeating and lack of exercise. For still others, it will symbolize how people are harming themselves physically and mentally by placing too much emphasis on their body image.

Not every found poem has to make a commentary, but this is one example. For "writing" your own found poems, you just need to continue doing what all writers do: Pay attention to your surroundings. If you find something interesting, see if it'll work as a poem.

*****

The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

Learn the process indie author Amanda Aksel went through in getting her novel Delia Suits Up traditionally published, including questions she asked herself and weighing one strategy against the other.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 6 New WDU Courses, An Upcoming Webinar, a Competition Deadline, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 6 new WDU Courses, an upcoming webinar, a competition deadline, and more!

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

A publisher accepting your manuscript is just the beginning, not the end. Author Rick Lauber discusses how to work with a nonfiction book publisher from query letter to release date and beyond.

From Script

Writing Empowered Superheroes in CWs Supergirl and Understanding Animation From the Trenches (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by Script Magazine, story editor Katiedid “Did” Langrock speaks with Reckless Creatives podcast. Plus, one-on-one interview with CWs Supergirl actress turned scribe Azie Tesfai about her groundbreaking episode and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is writing a characterless character.

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

Fiction editor and author Kris Spisak ties together her seven processes for self-editing novels, including editorial road-mapping, character differentiation analysis, reverse editing, and more.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Unold Crwca: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn unold crwca, a Welsh quatrain form.

5 Things for Writers to Keep in Mind When Writing About Spies

5 Things for Writers to Keep in Mind When Writing About Spies

A spy thriller requires more than a compelling story and clever plot twists—the characters need to feel real. Author Stephanie Marie Thornton offers 5 tips for constructing believable spy characters.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Team Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Team Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time for a little unexpected team work.