Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
When a poet creates a "found poem," he or she adds poetic structure to a text that was previously non-rhythmical or purely informational. By doing so, the poet creates new cadences, emphases, and meanings, demonstrating that what words evoke varies depending on the context in which they are presented.
To use found poems in your lesson, show students how authors like Lawson Inada have taken plain or non-narrative texts and have used poetic tools -- line breaks, rhythms, etc. -- to draw new meaning from the language.
Teachers should begin by asking students to consider how the poetic structure of a found poem rearranges the text's meaning. Students should consider an assortment of documents that are traditionally used for instructional purposes. These may be historical or contemporary documents, but it's best to choose an assortment that contains simple, informative language: manuals, advertisements, catalogues, and the like. For example, teacher Sandra Childs asks her students to construct poems from historical documents or the exhibit catalogue provided by the Nikkei Legacy Center. In rearranging these texts into poetic form, students should attempt to distill new meaning from the words they find and to explain the ways in which the poetic structures they've applied change the language's implications.
By asking students to create found poems, teachers encourage students' creativity and sharpen their analytical skills. In order to find texts that can be adapted in this way, students must learn to think carefully about texts they would ordinarily overlook; they must consider what can really be evoked by texts that seek simply to inform or direct us.
Students also learn to think more carefully about prosody. In creating a found poem, students must figure out for themselves how rhythms, line breaks, and word sounds (e.g., rhymes and alliterations) help to focus the reader on a poet's intended meaning.