Ninja Writers Academy: Found Poetry

Ninja Writers Academy: Found Poetry. Come join us for The Hidden Words Assignment. Share your work on Facebook and come by Sunday for Office Hours!

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours for an hour so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The Hidden Words Assignment

Ninja Writers Academy-The Hidden Words Assignment

I’m not a poet, at all, but there is one type of poetry that I think is not only fun to create and never fails to impress me, but is also a great way to really look at the words of other writers.

Found poetry is essentially looking at a page of someone else’s work and picking out words or phrases to make a poem. Wikipedia calls it the literary version of collage.

This week, I’d love for you to open a book to a random page and see if you can turn what you find there into your own work of art.

Here are the rules:

  1. Turn to a random page of the book closest to you.
  2. You can use words or phrases from that page only to make your poem.
  3. The words have to be in the same order they appear on the page. (In other words, you can pick a word from line one and a word from line ten, but they can’t be next to each other unless you haven’t used any words from lines two through nine.)

What I love about this assignment is that it gives you the opportunity to really look deeply at a small piece of writing. What words did the author choose? Why? How can they mean something different from what the author intended? How is your poem different from the page it came from?

My Turn

I just happened to get Tabitha King’s book Caretakers in the mail today and it was sitting on my desk as I wrote this post, so that’s the book I chose. The random page was 96.

Here’s what I came up with:

Wicked Gets to Heaven

How’s the terrible, honest man,

broken by grunts of pleasure?

Reduced to a pile of bones,

scoured and rinsed in the lake.

Brave to take on the bugs,

cross-legged on the grass,

she laughed.

Somehow, something

wicked gets to heaven.

My poem took a pretty dark turn. That page in the book was a conversation between people eating fish they’d just caught for breakfast at a campground. It wasn’t a particularly menacing scene, but when I look at the words I pulled out, I can see that there is an intensity behind it that I might not have noticed before.

Your Turn

Here’s your homework this weekend, Ninja!

Are you in this week? Leave a comment here and let me know. Ninja Writers are ALL about the big A word: Accountability. Post here that you’re going to be part of the Academy this week, then do it, Ninja.

Spend sometime working on a piece of found poetry. Use the rules in this post and HAVE FUN!

Come by Facebook and share your work today. I’ll be there tomorrow at noon PST for office hours.

Please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and spread the word about the Ninja Academy.

If you haven’t joined the Academy yet, you can click here to do that. It’s totally free–when you sign up, I’ll send you a link every week to the Academy post and an invitation to my Sunday office hours.

If you want some extra accountability for your Academy work, check out the Ninja Writers Kick-in-the-Butt Crew. It’ll help you get it done.

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1 Comment

  1. Erasures! So much fun! A few years back I did an erasure exchange with some friends where we swapped short stories we’d written, then created poems from each other’s work. Really neat to see what other people will pull out of your writing.