I’ve never understood the position that there’s no such thing as a found poem (though, to be fair, I’ve never been a big fan of any system of thought that makes a claim for its own superiority by means of claiming some other aspect of the same whole is inferior). I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all poems are found poems, but I do think that some degree of finding plays into a large percentage of poems, and the smaller the poem the easier it is to apprehend that fact. Some of my favorite haiku, some of the best of John Martone’s poems, some of the most impactful vispotography work in such an elegant way that the distinction between found and given becomes meaningless to me. Awareness of the world around us can result in poems being given to us, often (but not always) intact, in a single glimpse. given/found cease to make sense to me at this exact nexus point. The concrete poem is not exempt from this phenomenon. To find a concrete poem in the world around you, you only need two things: eyes and open.
Below you’ll find a group of images I would consider found concrete poems, some are individual pieces, some are in short series. Together they cast a range of markers across the territory designated by the classification. Consider the territory tentatively charted, and consider this an invitation to you (yes you) to further the exploration into it. Open your eyes to the language around you, and report back the poems you find there.
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