Feb '12 23
One of our writing exercises in uni last semester (thank you Amy) was to create a collage poem. This was based on exercises from chapter four, 'Writing as Recycling', from The Writing Experiment, Strategies for innovative creative writing by Hazel Smith.

We had to copy a slab of text from a random page from two books into a Word document and print it out. Then we had to cut out each word using a scissors, mix up the words, select words from the jumble and assemble a new piece of text as a poem.

I modified the process to make it more efficient: I found a nice online word scrambler here and avoided the messy, fiddly cutting and sorting part of the process.

I was intrigued by the result. I prefer to call the resulting poem a 'rescued' poem instead of a 'found' poem or a collage. It's more dramatic, isn't it? I feel that the poem is hiding and that it's my job to look for it using this special recovery mechanism.

Some poems are so thrilled to be rescued that they jump out and do a little jig; others are hesitant or shy and need plenty of encouragement and time. (You see, we can make a story out of anything!)

My rescued poems are different from the poems I usually write. They are dense and jagged; I like to think that they are a bit unstable and could freak out at any moment.

To honour my rescued darlings (rather than killing them) I intend to start a 'Rescue Tuesdays' post on this site.

Every Tuesday I will post one of my rescued poems, so bookmark this site and remember to visit each week. Better still, subscribe to the newsfeed to be notified when I update the site.

Tune in on Tuesday 28 February for the first rescued poem.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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  1. Mike says:

    *That text sorter is cool. Tried it with one of my poems. Interesting results. Must try it with someone else's. I've been trying for some time to create a cento out of David Bowie lyrics, and was sorting his lyrics in Excel. This could be a great help.


  2. Jen says:

    *Yeah it's cool all right, I was really lucky to find it. You can sort by all kinds of parameters. Glad it might be of use to you.

    I'd never heard of a Cento, that's brilliant! A quick google brought up a great 'wolf' one at http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22115. Thanks for the info!


  3. Robert says:

    *Do you think here is a market for a tweakable text sorter that can impose certain restrictions, ie ensure that the sequence always includes one random from the first and one random from the second? Just one example I can think of.
    ... Robert

  4. Mike says:

    *Robert, if you can come up with an artificially intelligent text sorter, that automatically constructs superb poems, short stories, hell, even full length novels, out of any random text you throw at it, there might just be a market for it.

  5. Robert says:

    *I think you are on to something here Mike. Maybe they can teach poetry and prose to IBM's Watson then ask him 'What is?". http://youtu.be/dYt57K8TJO8

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