This week I’m introducing found poetry to two classes of 6/7s.
There are many variations of the rules of found poetry: whether the poet must only use words from the found text, or if she can add her own; whether the found words/phrases must be used in the order they appear in the original text, or if the poet has license to move them around; whether one original text is used, or many. Its up to you what constraints you put in place. I used this lesson from ReadWriteThink and this description from poets.org to focus my instructions to my students.
I gave each student a short text, or excerpt. I chose six texts so each student at every table had a different one. I asked them to read it through once, then go through it again and underline strong words and phrases, then I asked them to make a list of what they underlined on a piece of paper in the order the bits appear in the original. That’s as far as we got in the first period.
In the second period they each read through their list and some chose to add additional bits from the original text as they felt necessary. I told them about the variations in ‘rules’ and let them, as writers, make their own choices regarding the “purity” of the text and the order of lines. They have started to construct their poems.
We’ll see what my young writers come up with…
I want them to consider the ‘story’ and voice in their original text as they construct something new. I want their new piece to have a distinctly different voice–and possibly a different story–from the original. The example by Reznikoff in the link above from poets.org is a great snapshot of what it could be.
The texts I chose were not simple texts. In fact, they are not ones my 6/7s would have anywhere near their fingertips. The texts I chose were:
- The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant pp 8-9
- The Golden Spruce (same) pp 17-18
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau edition pages differ: I used the first page of the section titled “Solitude”
- The transcript of Severn Cullis-Suzuki’s speech to the UN Earth Summit in 1992
- A short biography of Rachel Carson from rachelcarson.org
- The Symbolism of Cherry Blossoms from Wikipedia
You may notice some addition April-related thematic work here (cherry blossom festival, Earth Day). I though I may as well get these NF texts to double as thematic exposure too 🙂