Found Poetry in Pulitzer Novels


I’m already 4 days behind but it sounds like a game worth playing. Let me re-check the rules. The full explanation is below. As ever, I’m a little dubious about the idea of borrowing other people’s writing and calling it “found poetry”. I think the Journal’s editors got a bored of the very real limitations of “found poetry” and have perhaps stretched the definition beyond recognition. Maybe this cynicism would explain why I wasn’t invited to be one of the 85 ground-breaking poets.


I have some wonderful formal poems I began and abandoned that was a sort of hybrid fan/found poetry in which I took some lines from a character’s voice -in particular from a collection of Jewelle Gomez short stories called “Don’t Explain”– and worked them in to formalist persona poems using the forms that tend to repeat lines such as a Villanelle or Rondeau. I planned to do a chapbook entitled “Derivative” which included those and also tribute and/or answer poems like my “On (Dover) Bitches and Beaches” (ref. Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach and Anthony Hecht’s Dover Bitch).  But I abandoned the project as too self-indulgent and that I should be searching for originality and unique genius, not simply recycling the genius of others. Turns out I was just ahead of my time.


I suspect I will be too busy with other poetic commitments (like Simple Solidarity Press, the on the road reading and promoting the May 1st reading) to be able to commit to posting a poem here every day but I can dream, can’t I? (Particularly have been given permission to steal er… find… poems in books.)



Media and publisher inquiries may be addressed to Found Poetry Review Editor-in-Chief Jenni B. Baker at

Eighty-five poets are creating found poetry from the 85 Pulitzer Prize-winning works of fiction as part of Pulitzer Remix, a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative. Each poet will post one poem per day on this website during the month of April, resulting in the creation of more than 2,500 poems by the project’s conclusion.

The project is sponsored by the Found Poetry Review, a literary journal dedicated exclusively to publishing found poetry. Found poems are the literary equivalents of collages, where words, phrases and lines from existing texts are refashioned into new poems. The genre includes centos, erasure poetry, cut-up poetry and other textual combinations.

Recognizing that there are many prestigious awards recognizing the work of writers from around the world, project creators chose the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction list for both its length and its potential to spur new works of found poetry.

Pulitzer Remix poets are challenged to create new works of poetry that vary in topic and theme from the original text, rather than merely regurgitating the novels in poetic form. Posted texts will take the form of blackouts, whiteouts, collages and more, and will range from structured to more experimental forms.

This is the second year the Found Poetry Review has lead a project for National Poetry Month, Last year, on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the journal enlisted volunteers to distribute 500 found poetry kits in public spaces in communities across the U.S. and abroad.

After the conclusion of Pulitzer Remix, project creators intend to seek a publisher for an edited collection of poems from the project.


5 thoughts on “Found Poetry in Pulitzer Novels

  1. It’s more difficult that you might think and those participating have spent HOURS on their presentations.

  2. To build off of what Laurie said: it might be edifying for you to actually read and examine the poems we have been creating before rendering your snarkiness upon them. The poems I have written so far (and the ones of others that I have had the opportunity to read) bear little to no resemblance to the original texts because of how the phrases, bits and pieces have been reframed and combined. I am using the book The Killer Angels and not a single poem has anything to do with the the American Civil War in particular, or war in general. Creating such poems, ones that are not merely laundry lists of interesting words or sentences from the original, ones that still follow the rules of good poetry writing, requires effort, talent—and yes, creativity. If I combine words “that” “bees” “madness” and “sack” from different pages (or even the top, middle, and bottom of one page) to create the phrase “madness, that sack of bees,” I have made a whole new metaphor that was in no way stated or even hinted at in the original source. Even in cases where a partial phrase or whole sentence is used, it is preceded or followed by something else that alters meaning and context to something else.

    I am thankful that the folks from Found Poetry Review have created a way to educate others about the scope and potential of the form, and why and how it has value. .

    1. I really appreciate your adding your comments and perspectives on this. You are absolutely correct that I have not (as yet) read a single one of the poems and therefore my cynicism/snarkiness is no reflection on any of the poets or their work.

      The use of epigrams and quotations is a long established tradition in poetry. It’s completely acceptable to “borrow phrases” in that manner. In fact, both Jorie Graham and Carolyn Forche took on Walter Benjamin’s essay/letter “The Angel of History”; using essentially the same huge sections of the original text. One of Graham’s books was almost entirely patchworked quotations. Neither was described, if I am remembering correctly, as found poetry. Although that might have been an apt enough description.

      The example that you give “madness, that sack of bees” is brilliant and evocative. But seems to be “found” in the way in the same way you find poetry in your refrigerator magnet poetry set or alphabet cereal. You may limit yourself to the words or letters on hand, but the inspiration is unique and creative not stumbled upon. My understanding of found poetry was that it was to find something accidentally poetic in a usually nonliterary form. The gravestone, the newspaper, the stock report. However, a little research has proven that my definition is too limited.

      Thanks for setting the record straight. Apologies to poets and fans of Found Poetry Review for casting aspersions on an entire form/genre.

      1. I see where you were coming from…you were thinking in terms of untreated found poetry, whereas what we are doing is referred to as treated… In untreated found poetry the text is left unchanged except for breaking it into lines to change emphasis, etc. Treated found poetry involves blacking or whiting out words so that what is left forms your poem…or, selecting words, phrases, or in some cases sentences that are collages and pasted together to form entirely new meaning. I understand your reservation about untreated found poetry, as I share quite a bit of it…thank you for your nice response to my previous comment. It was much appreciated.

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