Found Poetry

My third and final attempt at poetry is the found poem.

Found poetry begins with a piece of writing that the author has found.  It can be anything from a billboard to a newspaper article or a diary entry to a worksheet.

The rules are simple.

  1. To create a found poem, remove words from the writing sample.
  2. You cannot rearrange word order.  That part if fixed.
  3. The finished poem does not have to retain the meaning of the original.
  4. Feel free to change verb tense, punctuation, capitalization and whether or not something is plural or singular.

For my own attempt, I stared with a historic letter.  It is one of the Civil War Love Letters posted by the Missouri Historical Society here.  James Love and Eliza Wilson were secretly engaged before he left for the Civil War.   For some reason that floored me.  If you’re going to risk defying your families and one of you is GOING OFF TO WAR, why get secretly married.  These were both adults.  No one was under-age.  And James very much wants to make their engagement public.  The letter I have is almost four pages of transcribed text.

Four pages.

If they had done things my way, he would have written her this letter instead.

My Dearest Eliza,
To bask in the light
of your smile
and look in your soft eyes
and there read all happiness
and love.
Mine was love at first sight.

Haste to me.
I often think of our wedding.

You have my life to the end.
I am blessed beyond words in your true love.
I pray I may ever return it as you deserve.

With warmest love,
James

Many of the found poems I read start with a writing sample with one tone and the poem  has a completely different tone.  That was what I tried for here.  More Song of Solomon and less angst ridden Romeo.  What can I say?  I prefer a happy ending.

–SueBE

4 thoughts on “Found Poetry

  1. This is fantastic, Sue–and I want to see the original! Can you post the specific link to James’ letter?

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