Found Poetry Challenge


I’ve been struggling and haven’t had the ability to get the words in my head out. So, while sipping coffee this morning, I picked up the random Edna St. Vincent Millay collected works poetry book sitting on the shelf of the cafe. And the urge to write hit me…not my words, but hers. It’s a technique I learned in my high school English class, an exercise where you use ONLY words that already exist, or, in this case, first lines or titles of poems that already exist. You can’t change the lines or titles but you, the author, gets to put them into an order you want, to make a new poem. It’s similar to the Hindu idea of shruti, which is the belief that sacred text is simply just writing down the words (usually a rough translation) of the words that already exist in the Universe somewhere.

So, with an inability to write my own words, here are the re- The Collected Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Autumn Chant
-found poem from The Collected Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Some Things Are Dark,
look how the bittersweet
Wild Swans
Intense and terrible I think, must be the loneliness.
Sky-coloured bird.
This should be simple; if one’s power were great.
This is mine, and I can hold it.
How innocent we lie.
Ashes of Life.


So, if you’re at a loss for works, or want to write poetry but are unsure of where to begin, try this exercise:

1) find a book of poetry (anthology or collected works) either in person or online
2) write down the titles or first lines (usually those are listed in the back) that speak to you. DON’T think about what you want the poem to say, just pick titles that you like or sound cool to you. Make sure to copy the lines exactly as you see them.
3) Once you have a list of titles (or first lines), start organizing them into an order that speaks to you. You are allowed to add commas/punctuation or words like a/an/the to string the lines together to make them work with each other.

4) Re-arrange any of the lines as necessary.

5) Marvel at your work! Make sure when you title it, to give credit that you ‘found’ this poem within a larger body of work!

Care to take the Found Poetry challenge? Link me with your poems, or leave them in the comments!

Insomnia, Inspiration, and The Moons: A Review of Poetry

I wake up from half-sleep
by images of closet-starved idea children,
beaten by electrical cords and made
to sleep in cramped corners
on cots
or coats
if they’re lucky.
When were they exiled?
Did it happen one by one?
And why do I wait, anxiously
for the sleepy pied piper to come and lull away
the rat-child-poems,
so that I can dream easily
and forget
that I drifted
or strayed
or fell
so far from the Source
of inspiration.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity: 3pm on a Sunday. To reconnect with a few classmates from high school and the English teacher that prompted me to graduate from high school with the equivalent of 6 years worth of English classes AND THEN go on to be an English Lit major in college before realizing that I DIDN’T want to teach…before realizing that I did.

If any of that makes sense.

The amazing part was the re-connection, the re-inspiration toward all things written and being able to see myself even more infusing my class with purposeful writing that will aid in their college transition. One high school classmate lives locally, with a son, and is in social work. We instantly connected again, and I was happy that while we had been loose friends in high school, there just lacked the emotional drama of one of the innermost circle of friends might have had.

And the poet.


The imagery in The Moons spoke volumes, and there’s something magical about hearing the words spoken aloud by the writer creator. Almost like bearing witness when God spoke the world into existence.

And afterward, the poet, the re-acquaintance and a few others, ran between fat Seattle raindrops to a local coffee shop to indulge in their velvet foam lattes. We talked about being mothers, being working moms and trying to find balance (as I explained to one, non-mom, why I was at the reading minus Potamus, even though it was the weekend). We talked about education, for the poet’s day job is the high school version of mine. The social worker and I made loose plans for happy hour sometime in the next few weeks.

We didn’t talk about writing.

Clearly I know the poet writes, and don’t know if the Social Worker does.

What I do know, is that I do not. Not pen-to-paper soul writing like I used to.

My feelings about it are complex.

In one vein, I long to spend those hours, or scrape together seconds to jot something down (even unsafely, like, while driving down the freeway) so that the words can create something true. I wish to be less distracted by shiny blue/white screens that flash instant distraction and updates. I want to keep record, somehow, of my life both inside and outside of motherhood. And even on the way home from the reading, an entire book idea came, fully formed (in big thought) into my mind, and the “simple” act would be to somehow get it from brain to paper.

The other part of me is scared.

Because writing and mental illness are blood-brothers, and I have been trying to live a quiet, simple type life.