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Submitted on
May 30, 2008


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In my previous journal, I described my personal approach to constructing a found poem. I discussed the physical structure of found poetry and the artistic benefits of searching for texts to incorporate within a poem. In addition, I linked three of my own found poems. These poems, now four with the addition of my newest piece, can be seen here. :below:……

The War of…


In this journal, I will be elaborating on the previously mentioned styles of found poetry. These styles, known also as “treatments” describe the manner in which the chosen texts are manipulated for the poem. In found poetry, there are two distinct treatment styles. These styles are “treated” and “untreated” poems. In addition to discussing the main branches of found poetry, I will also take this moment to introduce the concept of “Cento.” Cento is personally one of my favorite methods, and one that is not very well known. :nod:

While I will discuss “untreated” poetry for the purpose of this journal, I do not feel it allows writers to experience the full process of “recycling” their chosen texts. :no:

As I mentioned previously, treated poetry occurs when the text of a literary work has been changed dramatically. In a treated poem, the text is altered to the point that the original work is often unrecognizable. This manner of writing requires that the poet use their editing skills to weave the lines into a cohesive format. This process of building the poem allows writers to examine and redefine the relationships that exist between words. For me, this is important because it illustrates how simply restructuring words can open entirely new avenues of discussion and thought. :nod: :whisper:

Far more popular than untreated found poetry, treated poems are usually the result of taking bits and pieces from distinct literary works or by different articles within the same body of work. In my opinion, completely reconstructing sentences prevents students from simply plastering lines together without consciously thinking of their placement in the poem. In the words of Linda Austin, “good found poetry takes work.”

…and some craziness I might add ;-)

While treated poetry completely dissects lines and passages, untreated found poems work by keeping passages and lines in pretty much the same format. While I am not a fan of found poems that are too untreated, the technique can be used effectively when writing a cento, which I will introduce shortly.

Whether a found poem is treated or untreated, the process of putting one together is essentially the same. The difference lies in how much the text is restructured. :nod:

In addition to treated and untreated found poems, there is a third method known as Cento. Cento makes use of lines or stanzas coming only from other poems. Cento poems can be classed either as treated or untreated, depending on how you space and break up stanzas. Another interesting aspect of Cento poetry is that lines can be repeated. :jawdrop:

That is all for now. In my next and final journal about found poetry, I will be discussing the issue that I feel is most important for anyone wishing to experiment with the style. This is the issue of copyrights (insert dramatic theme music). Being that found poetry is comprised completely of lines from other texts, it is very important that you state what works or articles you actually used. This journal will probably be the most involved as I want to be sure I include as many details as I can. All suggestions are welcome. :please:

I would also like to take this moment and thank :iconesin: for not only bringing this topic to my attention, but also helping me with research.

Stay tuned! As always, please note me with questions, comments, or rants :peace:

P.S.- I have listed some links here with information about found poetry and examples of the style. check them out :below:………
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livingtoxic May 27, 2008   Photographer
Found poetry reminds me of assemblages and collage in arts.

Treated found poetry seems like a interesting way to learn about poetry, for beginners and experienced poets alike.

Thanks for the bringing up the topic of 'found poetry'. Very useful resource!
Thanks man! My pleasure. I am glad you enjoyed the journal.
I just went back and read the other two and found in the first one you raised the question of construction....

We are totally on the same page I feel...

Yes, I think so as well

I was thinking about this- you have made some excellent points on the subject of 'found poetry'.

Some history - Tristan Tzara and the cut-up poems, William S. Burroughs and the cut-up novel, Brion Gysin and his dream-machines, the 'found footage' in Ed Wood films (found footage in narrative...)

This is often called 'concrete poetry' as well (as in concrete-music, which is made of found-sound, rather than music created by instruments at the service of the composer). I have some great John Cage musique-concrete works (it was originally a French word). Films are often made this way in the avant-garde also, from 'found footage' (that is the term usually used).

The foundness of things introduces elements of chance as well. Concrete = Chance to some degree or another. This chance is then controlled in some manner or another - by forms of construction.

The construction can be, as you say, untreated or treated, or cento (where does that term come from???). I prefer the terms re-constructed, constructed and de-constructed, than treated and untreated, if you don't mind me saying, if only because untreated makes it sound like the passages of that category were "not treated." With treated and untreated we find an either/or, while with construction (and so on) we might find shades on the spectrum. To me, all of them are "treated" in some manner or another, but the kind of treatment, or construction differs, oscillates between construction, de-construction, and re-construction or re-constitution (and so on).

We can construct them by keeping the original lines (untreated) pretty much in tact, as you say, which could simply be called 'construction' (as you say, fairly unpopular as a form). Treated might be called Deconstruction, as it Deconstructs the passages. We might also have works with a Constructivist leaning (to make the construction of the work visible in the text).

Finally works may approach the pure assemblage in which construction is left behind in favour of emptiness and fragmentation... the idea here is to reduce the images to themselves, to deny the linking of bits within any kind of construction... an assemblage of becomings...

And these are only a few of the openings your work suggests - this is a great introduction to found poetry, and three categories of its workings - really cool. A very ontological piece. I like it.
Thanks man, it means alot to hear you say that. Yes, I have heard this style referred to as "cut", "found" and "concrete." When I first learned it, my professor referred to it as "found." That concept always stuck with me because writing in this style (for me) allows me to "find" more of myself by dissecting and thus rediscovering language. I love the way you have related chance with construction. Very well done! I may borrow that concept later. It is great to hear from you!
Four terms then-

1. Construction/Untreated
2. Deconstruction/Treated
3. Cento
4. Found/concrete used in narrative
I love this! There are not many essays on the subject of found poetry in relation to terms and their origins. That being the case, I had to do much of the leg work myself. The way you have broken it down here is perfect. relating the terms in this way had been on my mind, but I could not find a suitable comparison (in terms of how it is applied) for Cento. This is well done as always!
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