Monday, November 10, 2014

Found poetry challenge

Phillip sent me a self-addressed, stamped postcard that looked like this:

It's a simple 4"x6" card with a lot of text on it.  
On the back of the card he offered a challenge - Obscure as much text as I want, in any way I want, creating a"found poem" from the text I leave visible.   He sent this same card to lots of people on his mailing list, and I instantly loved the idea of this project.  I sat down with the text and a notebook and started finding possible "poems" in the text.  

For the phrase "telepathic music guides the people" I knew I wanted to use this picture of WACs in gas masks, but the picture was much too big for the 4"x6" format.  After some thinking, I decided I would cover the chosen words with clear contact paper, paint the entire card white, scan the picture, crop it to the right size, run my postcard through my printer, then peel off the contact paper to reveal the "poem."
Here's the result:

But I was nervous the technique wouldn't work.  So I scanned Phillip's text and re-printed it on white card stock so I could have a practice run.  I needn't have feared, my idea worked perfectly.  But now I still had Phillip's original pre-stamped postcard on my desk.  I didn't want it to go to waste, so I set out to find another poem.  This time instead of using my printer, I made a monoprint for the background and added some collage elements: 

 This was fun.  Back in my notebook, I had all kinds of possible phrases, and now I had the scanned text on my hard drive.  Nothing was stopping me from making another card....

 And another....

I was on a roll, so I kept making more.
I used the same technique as the starting point for each of them - covering selected words with contact paper, painting the background white, and creating some type of accompanying art on that white surface.  The tiny contact paper rectangles get encrusted with paint and ink, but peel off pretty easily to cleanly reveal the hidden words.

I've made eleven different cards (so far) with each phrase extracted from that same original piece of text Phillip sent.  It's probably more accurate to call my cards "found captions" than found poetry, but that's the way my mind works.  I can't wait to see how other people interpreted this challenge.


  1. These are wonderful! Clever idea from Phillip and brilliant interpretation by you!

  2. beautiful! I want to be on his mailing list!

  3. These are amazing! Love them all!!
    I took a much more literal approach. I found a more traditional poem, but haven't art-ed it up yet. I'll post it when I'm done.

  4. I got one too but wasn't nearly as clever as you - AND I forgot to scan my end result...... Darn. I wish I'd thought to scan his unaltered card - the text was interesting and complex and made for lots of options.....

    Hope the new job is off to a bang up start!

  5. What fun - how clever of you, as always!

  6. Oh Man, this was SO up your alley!! Brava! Totally inspired ~ :D!!

  7. Cool cards! We should do this on MMSA!

  8. If anyone is reading this and would like to see the other poems, they are being published here over the course of the first few months of 2015.