Found Poetry

CWII had been with Maia Ipp for our poetry unit (recently ended), during which we studied Jack Spicer and his whole thing with Federico Garcia Lorca. There were a lot of bewildered questions and exasperated exclaims: “So Spicer just claimed that Lorca wrote everything in After Lorca? Even the ‘translations’ of other people’s poems? Even the poems Spicer himself wrote?” We studied the concept of translation, as well as Spicer’s “transmissions” from Lorca (who is, of course, dead at the time Spicer wrote in his name).

One topic that particularly gripped me was found poetry. Of course I’ve known of them– my fellow senior Giorgia loves them (and I the way she does them, by cutting out the lines in strips and manually rearranging them)– but I’ve never had much interest in the form. Maia’s class, however, and what my fellow CDubs were doing with found poetry, made me think twice.

The first exercise we did was to make found poetry from Spicer’s Vancouver Lectures. I’ve always been a categorical thinker, so the stuff I pulled out of the text belonged in certain categories, so my poem read more like a list than anything else. However, as my classmates began sharing their constructs, I realized how linear the poetry could be. My thoughts and intent had more freedom than I had initially thought; the original text is not a constraint, but a guide.

(As it happens, I like my poem enough to throw it on here– so maybe this entire blogpost had just been an excuse to show it off.)

After Spicer’s Vancouver Lectures

Tonight, Eliot on one hand and Duncan on the other, you know, nice poetry
hang it onto metaphors
emotion machines in perpetual motion

Infinitely small:

One-eighth of the struggle
FIve dollars from Ten dollars
First step, step Two, Third stage
Two or Three years later

I prefer more the unknown

the furniture in the room
children’s blocks
Oscar Wilde

nonsense you have to avoid
Or you are stuck with
screwed up
being inside you

Some of my best friends are dying in loony bins
Some of m friends are dying in loony bins
Some are dying in loony bins
Some are dying
Some are loony bins

On found poetry, says: “Many poets have also chosen to incorporate snippets of found texts into larger poems, most significantly Ezra Pound. His Cantos includes letters written by presidents and popes, as well as an array of official documents from governments and banks. The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, uses many different texts, including Wagnerian opera, Shakespearian theater, and Greek mythology. Other poets who combined found elements with their poetry are William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Louis Zukofsky.” I had never thought that including lines from other texts could count as found (though now that I think about it, duh). That’s one of my favorite kinds of allusions– referencing not only the content, but also the style and form of another piece of writing.

The Found Poetry Review came up in my brief research for this post. It looks sleek and awesome, and I’m definitely checking it out. (Let’s end on a random plug.)

[DR]: 11/4, Thirteen Empty Goats

by Olivia A. (’14)

The Virgin Mary, three chambermaids who are actually literary critics, and a pigeon walk into a bar. Or a book. Today in Creative Writing 2 we finished reading After Lorca by Jack Sparrow. I mean George. I mean Spicer. Does it really matter?

We read an absurdist play written by Federico García Lorca and translated by Jack Spicer called “Buster Keaton Rides Again: The Sequel.” We laughed a lot while reading it though we acknowledged that most of the Spanish citizens who witnessed it back when Lorca was alive probably weren’t laughing. When we stopped laughing we were frustrated with the idea of absurdist art. We talked about how absurdist works all aim to do the same thing—that is, to exhibit the ridiculousness and lack of inherent meaning in life—over and over again. Someone said that we would probably only need one play in the world with this idea and then we could move on. But really, I think that the things we do are always absurd! Here are some things that have happened during this unit:

Giorgia asked Maia about Hebrew semantics halfway through the lesson!
Avi has a Kit-Kat addiction!
People (probably not C-Dubs) tape clippings of hair to the bathroom walls!
We think the phrase “13 empty goats” is really, really funny!
A boy tried to run out of the room and the door shut just in time for him to slam up against it!
Maia was in a puppet theater!
“Federico García Lorcker!”
Anyway, our poetry unit is ending and we as though it went by very quickly. I am going to miss Spicer, Lorca, Maia, and especially the static electricity on the cover of my reader.