The combination of this idea of control, the concept of photography, the habit of writing, and the notion of challenge, brought me to today's challenge--found poetry.
Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry (a literary equivalent of a) by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the original. (Wikipedia)
HOW LIGHT IS MEASURED
Where are the photographs
of the sea and the ships
and the tropical lagoons
that compare in descriptive power
with the prose of Joseph Conrad?
When the blue light has been taken,
when the red light remains,
every photograph is translation,
one language to another,
either literal or free
When light meets emulsion,
does not demand thinking.
What I like most about the process of creating a found poem is the constraints that are placed on the writer. One can only use the words and phrases that are found in the original material. Much like photography! The photos below are from a series I did titled, "San Francisco: Found Poetry." Of course the addition of titles can be important as well. As with writing, the order in which the images are presented can also impact the perception of the project. (Click on the photos for larger versions.)
Marquive Stenzel describes the Dadaism movement with its readymade philosophy as a predecessor for the practice that later became found poetry. Dadaists like Duchamp placed everyday practical objects in an environment that was aesthetic and in so doing called into question that object as art, the observer, the aesthetic environment and the definition of what is art.
Stylistically, found poetry is similar to the visual art of "appropriation" in which two- and three-dimensional art is created from recycled items, giving ordinary/commercial things new meaning when put within a new context in unexpected combinations or juxtapositions.
Of course, the photo below is quite famous.
“Happy poets who write found poetry go pawing through popular culture like sculptors on trash heaps. They hold and wave aloft usable artifacts and fragments: jingles and ad copy, menus and broadcasts — all objet trouvés, the literary equivalents of Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and Duchamp’s bicycle. By entering a found text as a poem, the poet doubles its context. The original meaning remains intact, but now it swings between two poles. The poet adds, or at any rate increases, the element of delight. This is an urban, youthful, ironic, cruising kind of poetry. It serves up whole texts, or interrupted fragments of texts.” (Found Poetry Review) Note: There is an interesting explication of the various forms of found poems at this site.
Dillard wrote a wonderful book of found poems titled, Mornings Like This. One review in Publisher's Weekly says:
"Found poems are to their poet what no-fault insurance is to beneficiaries: payoffs waiting to happen where everyone wins and no one is blamed. Dillard culls about 40 such happy accidents from sources as diverse as a The American Boys Handy Book (1882) and the letters of Van Gogh. Taking the texts nearly verbatim but toying with theme and line breaks, the poet aims for a lucky, loaded symbolism that catapults the reader into an epiphany never imagined by the original authors. If parts of this collection fall short of that ideal, there are plenty of chuckles and some beautiful turns of phrase. Poems of joy tend to fare better than the more somber efforts. It is hard to play serious with a style that relies on techniques more common in comedy, such as understatement ("Another legal situation/ Is death") and double entendre ("Try dropping from different heights"). Regardless, these co-op verses are never less than intriguing."
Here is an example of Dillard's work--
Sunday. What still sunny days
We have now. And I alone in them.
So brief—our best!
So much is wrong, but not my hills.
I have been thinking of writing
A letter to the President of China.
Do it, do it, do it, do it.
I beseech you, I beseech you,
I beseech you, I beseech you.
Mornings like this: I look
About the earth and the heavens:
There is not enough to believe--
Mornings like this. How heady
The morning air! How sharp
And sweet and clear the morning air!
Authentic winter! The odor of campfires!
Beans eighteen inches long!
A billion chances—and I am here!
And here I lie in the quiet room
And read and read and read.
So easy—so easy—so easy.
Pools in old woods, full of leaves.
Give me time enough in this place
And I will surely make a beautiful thing.
Annie Dillard, “Mornings Like This” (a found poem created from David Grayson’s The Countryman’s Year)
I will close today with some found words of wisdom that may help you get started:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."--Thomas A. Edison
"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it."--Greg Anderson
"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."--George Herbert
"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."--Robert Frost
"When a truth is necessary, the reason for it can be found by analysis, that is, by resolving it into simpler ideas and truths until the primary ones are reached."--Gottfried Leibniz