Found Poems from English 218

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Sound Poems from English 218

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Modern Poems 1 selections for English 218

These choices are on a first-emailed, first-served basis.

Courtney B.: XXXXX

Eva C.: “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop

Rachel D.: “Five Flights Up” by Elizabeth Bishop

Ercan K: XXXX

Abrie M.: “No Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself,” Wallace Stevens

Stephen R.: Emily Dickinson

Sierra R.: “Love: Beginnings” by C.K. Williams

Olivia S.: “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke /l

Danielle S.: “Holding the Thought of Love” by Bernadette Mayer /l

Daniel S.:  “Passing” by Langston Hughes

Jacqueline T.: XXXXX

Juliana W.: “Provide Provide by Robert Frost

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Found Poetry Assignment

Found Poetry: Some Definitions

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems. The found poem achieved prominence in the twentieth-century, sharing many traits with Pop Art, such as Andy Warhol’s soup cans or Marcel Duchamp’s bicycle wheels and urinals. The writer Annie Dillard has said that turning a text into a poem doubles that poem’s context. “The original meaning remains intact,” she writes, “but now it swings between two poles.”–from The Academy of American Poets website

A prose text or texts reshaped by a poet into quasi-metrical lines. Fragments of found poetry may appear within an original poem as well.–from The Poetry Foundation

Found poetry is the rearrangement of words or phrases that are taken randomly from other sources (example: clipped newspaper headlines, bits of advertising copy, handwritten cards pulled from a hat) in a manner that gives the rearranged words a completely new meaning.–Wikipedia

A “found poem” is a piece of writing that was not at first intended to be poetic, or literary, at least at first; instead, the poet takes language out of its non-poetic, non-literary context and places it, or formats it, as a poem.

“The closer the original intent of the language comes to that of poetry, the less likely it is to qualify as true found poetry,” Ron Padgett writes.

Variations and Cousins of Found Poetry: Some Examples

Procedural poetry, which often generates poems using pre-conceived rules or schemes (turn to page 45 memes, etc.).

Appropriative texts

Scratch-outs, blackouts, cut-ups using non-literary or literary texts.

Some Examples

Glenn Beck

Jen Bervin, Nets, which uses William Shakespeare’s Sonnets (i.e., Nets)

Clinton and Lewinsky

Phil Rizzuto, Oh Holy Cow

Donald Rumsfeld, Pieces of Intelligence

The Found Poetry Review

Examples of Sources for Found Poetry 

Trashy gossip magazines


Technical manuals



The Assignment

Find a source text: try for a long passage (at least 100 words)

For this assignment, use a single source.

Type the passage down. Don’t change the language.

Give it line breaks.

Maybe even stanzas.

Give it a title of your own.

At the bottom of the page, cite the source of the original (use examples from Found Poetry Review as your guide).

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Week-by-Week Class Plan for English 218: Poetry in Performance

Week-by-Week Class Plan for English 218: Poetry in Performance

January 15
Introductions; praise songs and first assignments
Sound Poetry: YouTube playlist;
Sound Poem Assignment
Praise Songs, Troubadours, Poetry of The Self
Writing Prompt: The Metaphor Quiz

January 22
Due Tuesday, January 20, 11:59pm:
recording of your Sound Poem; name file LastInitialFirstnameSoundPoem and place in the “01 Sound Poem” folder of our Dropbox

Due for class: Praise Poem. At least 10 lines using the Metaphor Quiz as your starting point.
You will perform your sound poems. Be prepared to discuss the sound poems from the YouTube playlist, as well as the composing of your own sound poem. I will present a couple short lectures on performing poetry, how to read a poem, and introduce some vocabulary. We will be screening some filmed performances, Poetry in Motion (excerpts), Def Poetry Jam, and others.

January 29
Due Monday, January 26, 11:59pm
1. Recording (and text!) of your Found Poem Assignment performances; name both files LastInitialFirstnameFoundPoem and place in the “02 Found Poem Text and Performance” folder of our Dropbox.
2. Text of Metaphor Quiz poem from first class meeting; name file LastnameFirstnameMetaphorQuiz and place in the “01 Metaphor Quiz Poem” folder of our Dropbox. This was due for January 22, but only two students came to class with printouts (they get extra credit).
3. Read all excerpts from Oxford Book of American Poetry (pdf file in the “Modern Poems 1″ folder in our Dropbox).
4. Email instructor (by January 26 11:59pm!) first poem selection from the Oxford Book of American Poetry (pdf file in the “Modern Poems 1″ folder in our Dropbox). This will be your first graded performance, due February 2; the choices will appear in this post as they come in. No repeats!

In-class: Field trip to Albany Public Library Pine Hills Branch for “Written Response Requested” show. Bring notebook and pen/pencil. And scarf and hat. We’ll be walking. (It’s two blocks away.)
In-class: Continue lecture on poetic terms, prosody and performance.
In-class: Performance workshop of Oxford Book poem selections

February 5
Due Monday, February 2, 11:59pm

1. Recording of your first selected poem from Oxford Book of American Poetry; name file “LastinitialFirstnameModern1″ and place in the “03 Modern 1 Performance” folder of our Dropbox.
In-class: Graded rubrics of performances handed back; review of performances; second Oxford selections assigned.
Read/Know: Selected Poetry Terms; quiz in-class

February 12
1. Recording of your second selected poem from Oxford Book of American Poetry; name file “LastinitialFirstnameModern2″ and place in the “04 Modern 2 Performance” folder of our Dropbox.

Classic Poetry II: 1950-present

February 19
Due Monday, February 16, 11:59pm

February 26
Midterm Performance: Location TBA

March 5
No Class: Midwinter Break

March 12
Interviews and Oral History

March 19
Frequency North reading with Leah Umansky and Sean H. Doyle

March 26
Collaborative Poems

April 2
Form Poetry: Sonnet, Sestina, Pantoum

April 9
No Class: Instructor away at conference

April 16
Rehearsals for Final Class Performance

April 23
Frequency North reading with Stevie Edwards

April 30
Final Class Performance: Location TBA






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Sound Poem Assignment

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If you love language, if you love words, then you love sounds. Words are made up of sounds. In the beginning wasn’t the word; it was the sound of our own voices, trying to make up words. Poetry is a musical, oral, and sonic art as much as it is a linguistic, written, or literary one. Whole shelves of libraries are dedicated to the relationship between the sound of words and their meaning, of how some words sound what they mean or even symbolize what they mean (onomatopoeia). In poetry, sound isn’t just window-dressing or a way of making a piece of writing more artful or pleasurable: it’s part of the meaning or even is the meaning.

The term “sound poetry” arose around the turn of the 20th century, and it was part of the Modernist and avant guard movements. In the roughest of terms, sound poetry attempts to combine music and poetry, as well as challenge what a poem is and what it is meant to do. for our 21st century eyes and ears, a lot of early sound poetry–and current, for that matter–may seem freaky and ridiculous. That reaction is fine: many sound poets had a tongue in their cheek as they went about doing this. I would say that sound poetry, whether it’s your cup of tea or not, serves a very noble purpose, which is to remind us that poetry is as much a musical as a literal art, and that sound and tone are important tools for us as performers.

All that being said, the term “sound poetry” is a very flexible term, at least the way we use it. There is poetry in the sounds of everyday speech: in auctioneers, Mongolian throat singers, girls singing “Miss Susie Had a Steamboat,” found recordings of heavy metal frontmen talking, and beatboxers imitating a record scratching.


Here is a YouTube playlist of some examples of sound poetry as well as some examples you could say is sound poetry after the fact. Watch all of these and see if you can use one of these as a model.

The Assignment

This assignment calls for you to write your own sound poem, and you can do that any number of ways. Here are just a few ideas; we can come up with more in class:

  • Repeat one phrase, sentence or even paragraph. This can be your own or something you have found or heard or have had in your mind for some time. As you repeat, vary your tone, speed, volume, articulation, and voicing.
  • Make up a word. Make up a bunch of words. Make up your own secret language. Use sound as your guide.
  • Get a friend to help. Have him or her repeat what you say as a kind of echo or delay. Or read two things at once.
  • Make sounds, only sounds.
  • Sing part of what you perform. Or shout it.

Details, Requirements

The poem’s length is determined by time, as opposed to page or word count: specifically, it should last more than 30 seconds.

It should be recorded, either a sound file or posted online.

Plan on performing it in front of the class as well.




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Syllabus for English 218: Poetry in Performance

English 218: Poetry in Performance
Course #822 Section E2 4 credits
The College of Saint Rose
Spring 2015
Thursdays, 6:00pm-9:20pm, Albertus 301
Daniel Nester, Instructor
E-mail: daniel [dot] nester [at] strose [dot] edu
Phone: 518-454-2812
Teaching Blog:
Office: Dolan Hall, 442 Western Avenue, First Floor #1
Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3pm-5pm and by appointment

Course Description
Poetry is often thought of as a private, precious art, and poets as reclusive artists who are misunderstood geniuses. But poetry began as a public, often competitive art form, and the idea of poets as the village truth-teller has never completely gone away.

This class will produce poetry performances each week, as well as study the craft of poetry in performance. We will consider some of the traditions, manifestos, movements, and cultural contexts in which poems are written and performed–from African griots to medieval French troubadours, to sound and recording-based poetry, to Beat Generation and slam and hip hop.

One large component of this class will be our guests, whose books of poems we will read and perform ourselves, and then discuss with the poet in our classroom. Another We will work write new poems and learn to perform other poets work, both classic and contemporary. We will use a kitchen-sink approach, mixing up forms and formats, so that each student has built up a repertoire of different poems. The class will culminate in several public performances.

Course Goals
— to learn about and join the community and guild of poets and storytellers who perform their work, and with it, its traditions, influences, and histories;
— to perform every week—sometimes a work by our visiting writer or guest, other times original work of our own, other times a result of a prompt or exercise, either online or in-person;
— to develop a critical vocabulary of poetry in performance;
— learn to offer constructive, helpful critiques of fellow students’ performances in class, as well as to work with critiques offered of one’s own performances;
— to learn to read, listen, and react as writer-performers and teachers–as opposed to a general audience–and discuss examples of published work that address issues of craft we encounter in our class;
— explore some of the theoretical and aesthetic frameworks, implications and responsibilities of working with and collaborating with other writers in various community-based creative writing workshop settings, such as the Goldwater Writers Program, Poetry Out Loud, and schoolchildren;
— to end our class with performances of our own and others’ writing from our workshops;
— my own personal goal, for the class to have fun as we work hard to learn about the art and craft of poetry in performance, and in the process learn a little about ourselves.

Required Texts


All of these writers will be visiting for Frequency North Reading Series. The bookstore have copies of some of these already. Dates up on

Copies of other will be supplied by the instructor.

Course Requirements, Percentage of Your Final Grade
— 50% in-class performances, week-by-week performances (audioblogs, recordings)
— 30% in-class participation/attendance, group work, presentations, quality of critiques, discussions
— 20% Mid-Term and Final Readings, Out-of-Class Performances (10% discussed at conferences)

Service Learning 
This class will integrate community-based writing workshops as one major, overarching component. Our workshops will be with from local Albany communities, which we will determine as a class. Dissemination-wise, we will collaborate and work with the community itself to determine how best to exhibit and perform the products from our workshops.

Some possibilities include, but are not limited to:
— residents of a senior care facility or local church in the Albany area;
— working with a non-profit partner in a particular neighborhood in Albany, such as Arbor Hill or Pine Hills;
— workshops centering around or inspired by individuals in a local subculture, such as the local writers and poets in the area, working with local nonprofit organizations

I use a grading rubric for many of my assignments. The following apply on class-by-class basis, and should give you an idea of how I assess student performance.

Participation, Collegiality, and Conduct Rubric
Creative Writing Assignments Not for Workshop: An Evaluative Rubric
Poetry Recording Performance Evaluation Rubric
Poetry Performance Rubric

Student Reading and Writing Rubric

Syllabus Statements and Policies
We’ll go through these quickly in the first week of class. Please read through these.

Snapshot from My Grade Book
Writing Format
File Format and How to Name Your Files
How to Record a Performance for our Class [Poetry in Performance]

Attendance Policy
Conferences and Drafts
Late Work
Participation: Writing Class
Required Materials and Skills
Recording Devices

Student-Led Discussion: Tasks of the Workshop Discussion Leader, Lead Critic
The “Rules” of a Creative Writing Workshop

Academic Integrity
Attending Readings, Frequency North, etc.
Attending a Reading, Performance, or Lecture for Make-Up or Extra Credit: The Procedure
Students with Disabilities
Writing Center Visits

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