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Found Poetry

In Andrew’s video in Part One, his final piece of advice was to have a go at writing poetry yourself. Some of you might have started already, inspired by what you’ve read. Others will have been writing for some time. The following three exercises will hopefully offer something new to those already writing, as well as being a starting point for those who have never written a poem before. We also make some suggestions as to how writing poetry might link to your reflective practice. 


A found poem is a poem made of words taken from somewhere else: billboards, snippets of conversations, shopping receipts, diaries, adverts and more. A wonderful example, for instancet, is the poem ‘a woman goes’ by Brazilian poet Angélica Freitas. Here she creates a poem by typing partial phrases such as ‘a woman goes’ into Google. Google then completes the phrase automatically, which Freitas then lists: ‘a woman goes to the movies | a woman goes to get ready’. To read the full poem use the link (below). During the pandemic, a different found poem went viral. Jessica Salfia’s poem ‘First Lines of Emails I’ve Received While Quarantining’ is, as the title suggests, made up entirely of first lines of emails she received while self isolating. This poem does one of the things that poetry does best—it draws attention to the impact of a crisis on language and how language both comes to ignore and accommodate, as well as address this emergency. 

Read either or both of the poems below:

Try writing your own found poem. You could try rewriting Jessica Salfia’s poem using firsts lines from emails to you.

Has anything changed since this poem was written in the first stages of lockdown? 

Where else can you ‘find a poem’? Think about different places language is evident: overheard conversations, advertising, music etc. In particular, think about found poetry in terms of health and social care settings and the official and unofficial language that is used in these situations.

Jessica Salfia’s poem has the refrain, ‘As you know, many people are struggling’. Is there a particular line you’ve found that you can use as a refrain?