What is "found" art?

Writing poetry can feel intimidating. We might worry whether we’ll be able to express ourselves in a compelling way or even if we have anything worth saying at all. One of the ways I try to break through this discomfort in my classes is through the method of “found” art—poetry that starts with material already out there in the world. Maybe we’ll pick a random page from the newspaper, the last paragraph of a novel, or some daily email correspondence as our text. Because we’ve removed the pressure of generating the language ourselves, we are more free to explore the openness of words, to prioritize sound over logic, intuition over reason. Found poems allow us to revel in the playful fluidity of language, to rearrange, interrupt, cut, and reimagine. The process becomes pleasurable rather than pressure filled, and the results are surprisingly worthwhile. I encourage you to give it a try. 


The Number One Thing Every Detroiter Must Do (Or, a History of Detroit)

— a found poem using the Detroit Film Theater Winter 2014 Film Guide

what makes us unique:
a story of floating weeds
a lonely flophouse at the edge of our first four decades

or, a low-ranking samurai
subject to change without notice
blackmail beautifully crafted and highly explicit

the epic unforgettable experience
universally acclaimed by critics
unsung treasure nestles a morality tale inside
the last of the unjust

or, a stunning hallucinatory adaptation
a brilliantly evocative example that forces us
to abandon our notions of the rules, constructed
from a wealth of archival footage
let the fire burn

astounding 45-minute battle sequence
originally presented as a one-night-only special event
a boy who is believed to bring bad luck
as well as poverty, turning on himself
code of honor sends him on a last, dangerous mission
child’s pose in bloom: a band called death

or, a millionaire’s decision to teach a lesson in responsible living
permanent fixture in the city’s social circles
charmed and seduced his way through the nightlife
now, clearly making a statement about the plight of the homeless
with spectacularly comic results and can-you-top-this visual spectacles
all without dialogue (but with a lovely musical score)

phantasmagoric spectacle
conjures the essence of all of them
retains a magical sense of the fable, until
a final, startling switch
deceptively simple tale
capturing sweetness and sadness in equal measure

a nearly-lost modern classic
found in nearly-disintegrated condition
incomparable and often startling and most
difficult to find. we’ll present in one eye-popping program
this staggering history in a single 91-minute shot
a labyrinthine story that mirrors the setting
eventually implicating the viewer
in a flood of previously repressed emotions that takes
a profound toll on all.

advance tickets are highly recommended.