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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Invented Forms

Throughout the ages, poets have used what surrounds them to create art. The following are some invented forms that fall under the genre that I call "borrowed" poetry.

  • Cento Verse Latin for patchwork, Verse made up of a medley of lines from the work or works of some well known poet. Verse in this genre dates back to ancient Rome.

    Natures Notes, A Patchwork of Emily Dickinson's World by Judi Van Gorder

    XXII L2 He did not know I saw
    XXIV L1 A Narrow fellow in the grass
    XXV L13 I feel as if the grass were pleased
    XXVI L3 A green chill upon the heat
    XXXVII L1 The wind begun to rock the grass
    XXVII L5 The leaves unhooked themselves from trees
    XXXIX L7 Write me how many notes there be.

    Cento by Jan Haag

  • Chance Poetry is verse using "chance methods" like opening a dictionary or any book, close your eyes and put your finger on the page, using the words selected at random for the basis of the poem or drawing words at random from prewritten cards then using those words in the order drawn for the poem's vocabulary. American poets Jackson MacLow and John Cage have been forerunners in this avant garde poetic genre. Any chance method to select the words will do.

    The Assasination by Donald Justice (1925-2004)
    (Justice wrote words on cards and drew them randomly to compose this poem.)

    It begins again, the nocturnal pulse.
    It courses through the cables laid for it.
    It mounts to the chandeliers and beats there, hotly.
    We are too close. Too late, we would move back.
    We are involved with the surge.
    Now it bursts. Now it has been announced.
    Now it is being soaked up by newspapers.
    Now it is running through the streets.
    The crowd has it. The woman selling carnations
    And the man in the straw hat stand with it in their shoes.
    Here is the red marquee it sheltered under.
    Here is the ballroom, here
    The sadly various orchestra led
    By a single gesture. My arms open.
    It enters. Look, we are dancing.

  • Dada is a movement beyond verse, it included all artistic endeavors. Initiated in Zurich in 1916 by 2 Romanians, it grew throughout Europe and finally across the ocean to the US. It is rebellion against the established norm.

    As a verse form, dada is basically taking random words and in the sequence of receipt relating those words as your poem. In my opinion it is much like a "found poem" but with a bit less thought and craft.

    Basically the instruction in the NPEOPP for writing dada verse is: Take a newspaper article and cut it up and put it in a bag. Then draw the words blindly one by one from the bag. Arrange those words in the sequence they are drawn onto a page to create your poem. "copy conscientiously / the poem will resemble you." It seems to be a collage of words and phrases outside the control of the poet.

  • Erasure Verse is a poem made up of the leftovers after words from a written piece, prose or verse, have been erased. The following is an Erasure poem, made from words leftover from taking an erasure to the description below on the Found Poem.

    erasure by Judi Van Gorder

    gathering
    the environment
    a snatch
    Printed collage

    arrangement to create
    different things
    anything
    poet's
    larger words.

  • The Flarf is a genre of verse that I am still trying to wrap my brain around. It is an internet dependant form that combines unusual phrases from google searches. Flarfs have been published in Magazines and Anthologies and seem to me to be pretty much nonsense poems but they are an increasingly popular if not contraversial form. My understanding is that the poet snatches phrases from incongruous word searches on google. It has even extended beyond google to searches on twitter, Facebook and other internet driven entities. Try searching for engine and clown together and see what google comes up with. Then snatch phrases from the various sites.

    This borrowed word form is the brain child of Gary Sullivan who said "I found the word flarf online on a police blotter where some stoner had described marijuana as flarfy," and subsequently came up with the concept to join incongruous words in a google search and then snatch phrases from the results and called it Flarfing. The poem is meant to be edgy, un PC, expose the aweful and in general be unsettling.

  • A Found Poem is the gathering and assembling of grouped words "found" in the environment and incorporating the "found" phrases and words into a larger poetic piece. It is a "snatch of poetry" NPOPP. Printed images or phrases assembled in a literary collage. The lineal arrangement rearranges the phrases to create an entirely different piece. It presents things found in the poet's surroundings such as a news article, a poem, letters, dialogue or anything. The poetry is much larger than the "found lines" that intersperse the poet's words.

    It was recognized in the 20th century and one of the more prominent series of Found poems is Ezra Pound's Cantos which includes "real" letters between Jefferson and Adams, Papal documents, poems by Cavalcanti, government and bank documents.

    The form is strophic without prescribed structure. The following is a found poem using snippets of a posted conversation of members of a poetic community.

    found poetry by Rex Allen Brewer

    trying history
    the Dolores River
    northwest
    into the valley
    Lost Canyon road
    further if you take the highway
    curious to know
    who named the river
    before the padres
    Escalanté and Dominguez
    The River of Sorrows
    a small river
    one you can get to know

  • Spoem or Spoemetry is verse made from the subject lines of spam e-mail messages.

    The originator is speculative, since many writers and bloggers have claimed to be responsible. The form seems to have first shown up in 1999 and has been the theme of poetry contests, blogs and journals. A book entitled 'Spam: E-mail Inspired Poems' by Ben Myers was published in 2008 by Blackheath Books Myers claims to have been writing spam poems since 1999.

    The key is to find the unexpected. The structure can be at the poet's discretion.

  • Slightly different in nature but still borrowing ideas and structure from another verse are:

    Afflatus
    Projacking

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