Found Poems in Altered Books
A few times each session, I teach what Interlochen calls “forum.” This involves all 39 Intermediate (middle school) Creative Writing Majors gathering in The Great Room for an hour-long activity taught by one—that’s one—instructor. Today, I introduced them to the concept of found poems in altered books.
[From Karen Hatzig, a great resource for this project.]
They’d heard of found poems before, but the idea of actually ripping pages out of books, cutting covers or moving letters and tearing photos—well, that was news to them. Thanks to Interlochen’s Bonisteel Library and one savvy librarian, I got my hands on about 50 books that were meant to be discarded.
“Today, we are going to attempt something that quite possibly has never been done before,” I told them. “Over the course of two days, in just two hours, we are going to see if we can find 39 poems in these books.” I had their attention, mostly. “And we’re going to tear pages,” I said, breaking the spine of a book. A few gasped. One student visibly cringed. I paused, then: “I know. It hurts a little. Almost like breaking a bone. But wait until you see what we can do…”
And so I showed them a close-up shot of a sample found poem altered book I did:
And another one, a personal fave that I found online:
Before I could finish giving instructions, students began inching closer to the pile of books, eyeing their covers to get dibs on the “best” picks. Not five minutes after their scurrying, the room fell to a lovely hush as they engaged almost immediately in their hunt for found poems:
Tomorrow, I’ll post photos of the results of some of their creations.