April 12, 2016

Friday, March 9, 2012

Poetry Friday: Celebrity Found Poems

Happy Friday, everyone.

I was at the grocery store last night and realized, at the checkout, I couldn't stop myself from scanning the celebrity magazines. Brad and Angelina's rumored wedding is off. The Teen Moms are getting married, divorced, pregnant again, put in rehab.

We all have drama in our lives. Celebrities get to share their highs and lows (okay, their crazy) with a wider circle of "friends."

What a great source for a poem. The characters and emotion are already there! All it needs is a form.

Enter, Found Poetry Review. Poet Patricia VanAmburg tipped me off to this online journal, based in Maryland. Found Poetry Review is somewhat strict in its definition of found poetry. If you're going to send them work, the source material must be provided. Making deletions from the original text is okay, but adding words is  frowned upon. Composing this kind of found poem might be a fun exercise for your high schoolers as they learn to research and cite sources.

I visited Found Poetry Review and fell in love with -- of course -- a celebrity poem. The title caught me first. How could you not love a poem called, "Fudge Pot?" And when I read the source, I loved it even more.
Mmm... the Culinary Alchemist blog is making fudge.

Fudge Pot
by Thomas Pyner

Something has happened and I want to celebrate that.
I am not sleeping. Last night
we got hot dogs. We had cheese
on the hot dogs and then I had to have pizza
and then I had to finish it off
with fudge pot.

Read the rest (and the big reveal) at Found Poetry Review.


Writing a found poem can be challenging. The aim is to take the source material and put it in a form that reveals something new, either through line breaks or light editing.

Writing a celebrity found poem adds another layer. The poet must listen for idiosyncrasies in the celebrity's speech, for moments when something odd or revealing is said. The poem becomes a portrait and the name of the "sitter" is like a punchline.

Here is my rough attempt at a celebrity found poem.

Feel What I’m Singing
by Laura Shovan
Someone asked me the other day,
they said, Etta, you know
you had a roller coaster of a life.
But if I, if I didn’t have a roller coaster
how would I, how would I know?
How would I be able to
sing about the things?
How would I be able to
feel what I’m singing about,
the ups and the downs,
the highs and the lows
And I love, I really do
I love the highs and the lows.
I think that’s put some fat on my head.

Next time I'm at the grocery store, I'll have a good excuse for checking out the celebrity rags. I am looking for material, people.

Have a great weekend. Try this fudge pot cake recipe to make it a little sweeter. I hope you find some great poetry at Gathering Books. Thanks for hosting, Myra!


Tabatha said...

How fun! I like your poem. :-) Thanks for this inspiring post! Makes me want to try to write/find some.

Author Amok said...

I hope you do, Tabatha. Maybe the person we choose for our poem says as much as the words themselves -- or it's a balance between the two. (I admit, I thought for a minute about doing a Kim Kardashian celebrity found poem.)

Liz Steinglass said...

Very intriguing. And I've never really been that interested in found poetry before. I'll definitely have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Liz. There is definitely an art to it. I tend to prefer the found poems that compile key phrases from the source material. I think both of these poems work because they capture speech patterns and personality.

Tara said...

Cool...but (as you say) this takes a bit of practice and work. I loved your Etta james poem, though - what a voice and what a life. I was just listening to an old CD in the car the other day and enjoying it so much.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hee! I am surprised, and I love your idea that such poems are like portraits. I wonder if it works best when you don't know who is portrayed until the end, or if it can often work as well to know during the course of the poem, as with yours about Etta. That last line is fabulous!

Thanks for Thursday and my "formal" scarf...

Liz Steinglass said...

I just read a bunch from The New York Time Found Poetry Challenge for students. They were amazing!

Yes, I think the repetition and cadence of the Etta James poem make it work.

Liz Steinglass said...

I had to give it a try--
This one's based on Umami Dearest, Mark Bittman's column in the New York Times Magazine today.

Elemental Flavor

There is a strong connection
Between soy, salt and bacteria.
Each makes use of surplus,
Preserves the bounty,
Takes time to prepare.

You will want to know
Which for which,
But it’s better to play around.
It keeps just about forever,
So you can experiment at your leisure.

This one's better than all my miserable failures yesterday. I definitely want to try again.
Thanks for sharing inspiration.

Author Amok said...

Tara -- I think the exercise is good training for the ear, similar to journalists using the "telling detail" to express the feel of a place or person in feature writing. Liz -- I'm so glad you had fun with this. I'm off to check out the NY Times article.

Amy LV said...

First laughing at the Tom Cruise relieved to have an excuse for some of my lesser reading...finally inspired by your Etta James found poem! Thank you! Found poems usually aren't my favorite, but this take with a person behind the words is neat, and I'm going to give it a whirl! Thank you! a.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Amy! Let me know how your celebrity found poem goes. There's something voyeuristic about this exercise, isn't there? Pulling out threads of a person's speech to find the poetry or humor there.