Found Poems

A found poem, as I understand it, is just that. Something you find and decide it’s a poem. Not someone else’s work  but maybe words from an old tombstone or, for example, an old classified advertisement (see below).  Someone once even turned the BBC Shipping Forecast into a found poem!

Found poems were popular in the 70s.  At the time, George MacBeth, poet and radio producer (1932-1992) was the editor of a poetry programme on Radio 3 called Poetry Now.

George was very taken with my found poems and invited me on his programme to read the ones you see here. I would, of course,  have much preferred to have been reading my own poems. Found poems are ok but I find it hard to take the credit for something I didn’t write in the first place! 

I found this one on a Victorian poster. It is set out exactly as I found it.

Caution.

Beware of the man with the carpet bag!

Ingenious swindling!!!

Innkeeps are cautioned against a Man

with a Carpet Bag, who Travels about

with no other Luggage than that alluded to.

He fills his Carpet Bag with Cabbage Leaves,

or other Rubbish, which he generally empties

under his Bed, and substitutes whatever

Valuables may come in his way, utterly

regardless who may be the Owner of the

Property. The Man with the Carpet Bag

has already visited several Hotels and

Inns in the Vicinity, the Landlords of

which have been Minus several Valuables,

and plus only a Parcel of Cabbage Leaves.

Here’s one from another Victorian poster:

Whereas

A Sailor of the name of Jargen Kroger,

left or strayed away, on Wednesday the

13th from the Danish Vessel, Persina of

Blankeness; he is about 40 years of age,

walks slow, was dressed in a blue jacket,

fustian trousers and waistcoat, scotch cap,

cannot speak English and is insane.

This next one was an advertisement in the Musical Times, 1850:

Coachman wanted!

He must have a tenor voice

and fair knowledge of music

so as to be able to

take part in a choir

We also need a boy to milk

and take charge of the cows

Only those with good voice

need reply.

This news item came from the Montana Post, 1865. I’ve shortened the lines but the words are exactly as I found them.

Recently

in Carson

a pigeon

attacked

a bull dog

A fight ensued

resulting in

the death of

the warlike

dove

whose owner shot

and killed the dog

The jury judged

that he should pay

71 dollars

to cover the cost

of the funeral

 

 © Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


2 Comments on “Found Poems”

  1. Hello Andrea. I’ve come back again as promised to read and it’s lovely. Your site gets better every time.. I’ve recently finished writing my 100th poem which since i only started in february is an achievement for me but your site helps inspire people and with historical poems as well it’s good for people and beginners like me. Take care from kevin, Hampshire uk

    • Thanks Kevin. It’s lovely to hear from you and to know that you are still enjoying my poetry. I’ve had a look at yours and there’s a lot I like. Keep writing!
      Best wishes, Andrea


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