Found Poetry – 3 ways

I am a collector of words. You may see me making notes on my phone after hearing an interesting turn of phrase. You may see me armed with an mp3 player recording someone’s memories to be shaped into a poem or a song, with their permission and involvement of course. I also like to find poems in what I read. In this post you will find 3 examples of ways to find a poem.

A few days ago I was looking through a parish magazine and saw a page which caught my eye. Here’s a ‘pause for thought’ poem most of which is copied from that page.

Funerals and christenings 2015

Out with the old

Kenneth, Ronald,
William, Harold,
Raymond, John

Phyllis, Rita,
Sybil, Daisy,
Rachel, Jane

In with new

Sophie, Chelsea,
Piper Ocean,
Devan, Charlie,

Brendon, Wayne
and Jenson-Jake

© Heather Wastie

My second example is a Humument, A Human document, a tribute to a friend. This was made by obscuring words in an article he had written, leaving ones which stood out for me as a kind of hidden message. In this example, the found words remain in the original order and no other words are added. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Humument for Paul

Finally, I refer to a previous post, made when I was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet

My poem in that post is a juxtaposition of texts copied from different sources: a book about Persian Rugs, a website about Nima Yoshij “The father of modern Persian poetry”, an interview with Mick Lowe, who worked as a designer, and one of Nima Yoshij’s poems. I hope that the way I chose to combine these different texts says something without the necessity for additional words.

Poetry is everywhere.

Persian design and a guest poet

There are 2 contrasting poems in my blog this week. I wrote Persian design after becoming fascinated by the way carpet designers used Persian motifs as inspiration. Mick Lowe showed me some of the books designers worked from and described how traditional motifs were interpreted in a more contemporary way by placing them on a “highlighted ground” which made them stand out. I decided I would like to do a similar thing with words and ended up making a ‘found’ poem which takes elements from several sources and juxtaposes them with very little alteration.


I shared a draft of the poem at my workshop last Friday and the comments helped me improve it. I hope I gave plenty of inspiration in return! The feedback was good anyway from the 2 people who came along. It would be good to have a few more participants for my next one on Thursday June 6th. For details of this and a day workshop on June 9th, do have a look at the Workshops page.

There is one line in this poem, “The length of the line …”, which is deliberately longer than the others but the formatting of the blog shifts the last word to the next line. I can’t see a way of changing it unfortunately.

Persian design
a found poem

In the time that can be spared
from the constant battle for survival
the women and girls of the tribes weave carpets

Oasis to oasis
water hole to water hole
grassland to grassland

“I learned reading and writing
from the Akhund of the village where I was born.
He used to run after me through alleyways,
catch me, tie my thin feet to rough, thorny trees
and beat me with long canes. He had made a scroll
by pasting together letters written by peasants to their relatives.
He ordered me to learn the whole scroll by heart.”

The length of the line should be determined by the depth of the thought

He took poetry out of the court, into the streets,
added colour and flavour to his compositions
by using the natural speech of the people.

Oasis to oasis
water hole to water hole
grassland to grassland

Each tribe had a different motif,
the signature of the village.
Rather than slavishly copying,
we took elements and placed them
on highlighted ground, light to dark
maybe a set of reds,
as if a light shone from behind.

Half drop, stagger, amplify.

Oasis to oasis
water hole to water hole
grassland to grassland

Hey, you over there
The moon beams
the glow worm glows
Yellow hasn’t become red for no reason

© Heather Wastie
May 2013


Book in Museum of Carpet Library: Oriental Rugs vol 2 Persian, Erich Aschenbrenner

Iran Chamber Society website – Persian Language & Literature – Nima Yoshij

Interview with Mick Lowe, Museum of Carpet volunteer, who worked as a designer and won the carpet section of the 1969 RSA competition for industrial designers

First lines from 3 poems by Nima Yoshij – Hey, People, Moonlight and Snow

I run a monthly spoken word and music night called Mouth and Music. This month, we featured a brilliant poet from Manchester, Dominic Berry, and I managed to arrange a free visit to the Museum in exchange for a new poem from him. Dominic asked for feedback on his piece by posting it on Facebook, prompting lots of discussion about punctuation in poetry. When writing poems it’s important to give a lot of thought to line breaks and punctuation so that the flow continues, pauses or halts in the way you would like it to, whether read aloud or for the visual effect on the page. Dominic gave me permission to remove one of his commas if I wanted to. I’m honoured! In the end I left it in because I changed my mind and decided it was necessary after all.

I really like this poem and have found something new each time I have read it. A big thank you to Dominic. Do have a look at his website to find out more about his work.


I like my work and do as I am told.
For every carpet colour, there’s a dye.
The brilliant blue is something to behold.

Became a full time draw boy, twelve years old.
I followed Father in, my head held high.
I like my work and do as I am told.

Bring Mother money from each carpet sold.
Ten pence a yard. I look her in the eye.
The brilliant blue is something to behold.

At Sunday School I’m quiet. I’m controlled.
I pray to God and wait for a reply.
I like my work and do as I am told.

As Father fights bare knuckle in the cold
outside the pub, I stare up at the sky.
The brilliant blue is something to behold.

The carpets, red and green and black and gold,
I hear my Father shout, my Mother cry.
I like my work and do as I am told.
The brilliant blue is something to behold.

© Dominic Berry

May 2013