Found Poems

I follow the NY Times on WordPress or Facebook or twitter…one of those and I came across a great idea for the classroom, their Found poem contest! The gist of the contest is that you take articles from the New York times, use only their words and phrases and make it into your own poem.

Found Poem Instructions

• Find a couple random paragraph from a newspaper, magazine,
book, etc. The selection should contain 100-200 words. You can
also try recipe instructions, legal notices, and horoscopes.
• Read through your selection.
• Highlight or underline words, lines, etc that seem promising to
• Use what you selected to write a poem.
• You may add your own words, but no more than 50% of final
poem may include new words.
• Your poem may be of any length, but it must focus on a single
idea and be meaningful to you.
• Your does not need to be about the original topic.
• Each line does not need to be a complete sentence;
experiment with ending lines in mid sentence and continuing
on next line.
• Pay attention to how the poem looks on the page, the length
of lines, how line are grouped, etc.
• Have a single idea in mind to help your poem come together.
• Try repeating lines or single words throughout poem.
• It is possible to create a poem without adding new words.

For the NY Times we followed the set contest instructions so the students were not allowed to use more than 2 o f their own words in the poem.

This was a fun activity that a majority of students enjoyed and it gave them a little more leeway in their poem writing, the less structure that is set out for  them the more fun they seem to have with it.

For our class we asked that they keep in mind what the article was saying instead of changing the meaning of what the author had in mind.

Here is a quick example that I wrote to show the students as they got started:

Help Us

Syria, Arab spring began.

Residents protested torture, government responded with force.

Assad sent tanks into cities, opened fire on demonstrators.

Killed, 8,500 Syrians, so far.

Destroyed, entire neighborhoods.

The dead pile up, diplomacy fails.

Hope and fear.

Hope days are numbered for the regime.

Fear, what will take its place.

If you do not help us, we will be killed.

Crisis in Syria, New York Times Upfront, April 2, 2012

Mrs. Schwander


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