Internet Found Poem

no, they have not split
_______________ (the cork
_______________ & the dumb thumb)
real slick
_____twit-spank
__________shake it
_______________ like a shiny new mohawk
heading to rock sugar
an exciting underwear purchase
____________________ driving by an escalade
____________________ _______________ with the license plate: FNG SHUI
____________________ another harlem nocturne
____________________ _______________ like the periphery
____________________ she found her passport
____________________ she is just getting over the h1n1 flu
____________________ she almost missed the vermeer milkmaid at the met
____________________ she misses having even the slightest bit of discipline
____________________ she is eating dried mangos
____________________ she has skater boy hair
____________________ she thinks life is too short for a long story
____________________ ______________ (alternatively, the end is near, but not near enough)
____________________ she doesn’t want to hear any songs about sexin’ hos in a club bathroom
____________________ she wants to rollerdisco in central park
____________________ _________________________ all afternoon
____________________ i found a way
____________________ i found a reason
_________________________ getting sandwiches to go
____________________ i found love on a two way street
____________________ i just want to meet you
____________________ i found god on the corner of 1st and amistad
____________________ wearing a low cut green shirt, glasses, black jacket
____________________ the things that hold me hostage in this city are close to saving me
____________________ ready set go
____________________ shame
____________________ _____ is it the future?
____________________ soul
____________________ & apartment cleansing

I. PURPOSE + HYPOTHESIS

According to the Academy of American Poets, found poetry is the “literary equivalent of a collage.” The Found Poetry Project publishes found poetry and expounds on the definition, asserting that “poetry is everywhere…every phrase that rings in our minds, every two words that sound good together, every quote we want to remember, are each their own small poems.” The process of constructing a found poem differs for each “poet,” or “finder,” but here is the gist: gather existing text, rearrange it, and present it as a brilliant new piece of poetry.

I am constantly intrigued by the amount of losing and finding that takes place in the construction and result of a found poem. Lost snippets of text, often from various sources, find new context. Original sources of phrases and lines are often lost on readers, and eventually on writers as well. Old meanings and contexts are co-opted, colonized, contaminated, altered, exalted, exaggerated. Lines, words, and phrases intermingle and find other newly contextualized word friends, acquaintances, and enemies.

II. MATERIALS + METHODS

In order to highlight the interaction between lost and found imagery, I drew my sources from several types of internet media to construct this found poem.

Not surprisingly, the internet has proven itself as both a boon and a bane in the world of found poetry. Some poets and poem finders have embraced the medium. Most ignore it. And still a large contingent of poets mock it and use the internet satirically. “Flarf,” a genre of experimental-internet-search-engine poetry, is an example of how the internet has been invading and/or livening poetic spaces for the past decade. Flarf is, of course, completely controversial, as evinced in the discussions generated at Art Voice, Poets & Writers, and on the Poetry Foundation Journal.

Despite the unending debates about the value of the internet in poetry and society, one thing most people can agree on is the ephemeral nature of the medium, particularly on social media websites. As a frequent user of social media sites, I am amazed by how quickly I can watch various status updates appear on my news feed, only to get buried beneath a new flurry of information minutes later. As easy as it is to find information on the internet, it takes little effort to completely lose information as well.

I wanted to explore those sentiments in my found poem. To represent the ephemeral and lost, I incorporated status updates from popular social media websites Twitter.com and Facebook.com, as well as postings from other fast-paced, rapidly updated sites perezhilton.com and craigslist.org. In contrast, I used a google.com search on the phrase “I found.”

I let the process of gathering phrases and words guide the tone and eventual focus of the poem. I did searches on all the aforementioned websites and copied down the phrases that popped out at me the most. As I went along, I became more discerning in what phrases to collect, and I picked things that seemed to fit most aesthetically, emotionally, and intellectually with what I had already gathered.

III. RESULTS

Please see above.

IV. CONCLUSION

In the finished product, I hoped for the newly intermingling, random phrases to be able to interact with newfound meaning and cohesiveness. As the poem’s finder, I was fairly pleased with the result, as I was able to connect with the whole piece in a different way than I connected to the individual phrases I borrowed. In many ways, I felt like a co-author/co-poet, and I emerged with a newfound respect and understanding for the genre of found poetry. While I can certainly understand why found poetry may be a turnoff or considered not engaging or simply unimpressive for many readers – after all, the words and phrases themselves do not belong to the authors – I do think that we often don’t give found poetry enough of a chance. After going through the process myself, I realize that poem finders can have quite a bit of agency and creative control in the construction of a found poem. I also discovered that found poetry and “traditional” poetry have more in common than I previously assumed; in found poetry, we lift exact words and phrases from various sources, but in other forms of poetry, do we not “lift” a smattering of observations, anecdotes, vignettes, and even words and phrases from a variety of people and places as well? In a way, found poetry seems to me a more direct, literal exemplification of what we often consider poetry to be.

by Chrysanthe Tan
a singer-songwriter, actor, violinist, poet, Pisces, and Star Wars enthusiast



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  1. […] journal has nurtured throughout the years via an electronic format. Recent blog posts include an Internet found poem and its construction; an e-roundtable discussion on how Twitter is changing literature (aka […]


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