Writing a poem is so much easier than you think!

1. Highlight the words in your chosen piece of text this text from The Otago Daily Times newspaper was taken from an article about bats.

Can’t write an email or letter to save yourself? Then how on earth can you ever hope to write a poem? Actually, writing creative poetry is much easier than you think thanks to a fun technique called ‘Found Poetry’ which delivers to you all the words you need. Found poetry turns creative writing into such a quick, easy, stimulating and fun activity that some people write a poem a day as part of a five-minute routine while they’re enjoying breakfast! Writing found poems also helps stir up the grey matter and gets the neurons firing – so what are you waiting for?!

Where to find your words

To find a source of words for your poem, open a book, the newspaper, a magazine, a piece of junk mail, or a random internet page (don’t spend time agonising over which – make the decision a quick one). Once you have your source front of you, select a random passage from it of a few paragraphs or around 250-500 words (we’ll refer to this as ‘the text’).

1. Highlight the words in your chosen piece of text this text from The Otago Daily Times newspaper was taken from an article about bats.

Scan the lines of your chosen piece of text. Choose from it any 15-30 words (include short phrases if you wish) that stand out for you. Don’t worry too much about why they stand out but do choose words from throughout the whole piece of chosen text). If appropriate, use a highlighter pen to mark the words. Otherwise, scribble the words down on a piece of paper.

2. Arrange the chosen words so they make some sense or are meaningful to you. Add punctuation if you want to and up to 3 short words of your own..

Next, arrange the words so they make some kind of sense to you (you can add in up to three words of your own to help, but they should only be little words such as ‘and, if, but’ and so on). Add some punctuation if you want to. To finish off, chop up your arrangement of words into short lines. Lines can begin with a capital letter, but they don’t have to.

Finally, give your ‘found poem’ a title!

3. Chop the words into short lines adding a cpital letter to thebeginning of lines if you want to. Give the poem a title.

Why do found poems ‘work’?

Our minds are always busy, and often there is a theme to our thoughts. When we choose seemingly ‘random’ words from a piece of text, we are unconsciously selecting words that tie in with our ‘current thought theme’. Alternatively, after we have quickly scanned our piece of text, a theme may naturally emerge. We then automatically select words that fit in with that theme. However, no matter why we choose the words we do, the poem will still have a life of its own, independent of what we want to make it do. This is because we are working with a limited number of given words. That’s what makes the writing of found poems so exciting – we never know what the end result will be!

What next?

  • Keep a record of your poems in a scrapbook or computer file. Share them with friends and family.
  • Take turns with friends to choose a piece of text. Then share the different poems you all come up with through messaging, facebook, or email).
  • Hold a weekly ‘found poetry’ competition with friends, family or your community. Have a collective vote, with the winner being shouted a coffee voucher.
  • Make up your own found poetry rules (for example, you may allow yourself less text to choose from, more words to choose, or stipulate that the words must be formed into a particular type of poem such as a haiku or sonnet).
  • Google ‘found poetry’ to find out more about this fun creative writing form.

Word of warning: Writing found poems is a fun activity only. Never publish found poetry without first checking out the copyright rules regarding the piece of text you have used as your inspiration.