We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Found Poetry?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Found poetry is a type of poetry made up of other existing written or spoken materials. Since these materials already exist, it is thought that the poet “found” the poem within them. To create or “find” this kind of poetry, a poet might take words and phrases from another piece of work, or he might rearrange the entire contents of a piece of work. Similar to other kinds of poetry, found poems can be written in a variety of styles. Found poetry should not be confused with parallel poetry, a type of poetry that relies on the poet writing a completely new poem in the style of another poem or poet.

Generally, there are no rules regarding the structure of a found poem. Found poetry might be in the style of an epic or ballad, or it might follow the haiku or limerick poetry formats. Some poets might prefer rhyming verse poems, and others might write blank verse poems. The styles of sonnets, odes, and narrative poems can all be represented with found poetry. As long as the existing materials allow for it, a found poet can create any style of poem he wants, and some poets might even welcome the challenge of using the existing materials to create a certain style of poetry.

Poets might “find” poetry anywhere. Some poets have found poetry in passages of books, public figures’ speeches, and even in normal pieces of communication such as letters. Sometimes, literature and language teachers will create assignments for students to write a piece of found poetry based on their favorite short story or chapter in a book. Writers might practice this exercise themselves, to flex their creative muscles or simply just for fun.

Due to the echoing nature of found poetry, it is often confused with or taught alongside parallel poetry. It is important to understand that although these two kinds of poetry draw from other resources, they are not the same. When a poet writes a parallel poem, he chooses another poem or another poet’s style, and models his own poem after that. When he writes a found poem, however, he takes materials that have already been written or spoken and rearranges them in some structural way to create a poem where one seemingly did not already exist. In other words, the writer of a parallel poem writes the poem from scratch, whereas the writer of a found poem looked at other materials and “found” the poem.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Jul 25, 2014

@irontoenail - Poetry in general can be lazy or it can be the product of care and craft. There are amazing examples of found poems out there, but they tend to be fairly uncommon. I think this is more because most poets prefer to write from scratch, rather than because found poetry is essentially a less satisfying medium.

By irontoenail — On Jul 25, 2014

@clintflint - Found poetry can be good, but more often it just seems lazy to me. I don't think it's particularly clever to take a block of text and just pick out individual words that will make up a sentence. In a big enough or rich enough text this isn't exactly difficult.

Good poems are spontaneous as well as considered and I don't think that found poems are usually either of those things. They are a fun exercise, but ultimately nothing more.

By clintflint — On Jul 24, 2014

Found poetry can be very good. I especially like the ones where the original text is still present, but has been marked over or otherwise obscured so that only the poem is still present.

In a way, I feel like all poems are found poems. You have a set of words and phrases that you're working with and you're trying to make sense of them and put them together into something that has meaning.

The added dimension of the found poem is the context of the original writing. If the poem is particularly good it will play with that context while adding something new.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.