Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Found Poem

Shifting power in the middle
volume of the crowd’s voice
is increasing
the seismic movement,
destruction of autocracy
power to the people
potential of hope.

In a techno-cleaning frenzy, I set out to delete or put in folders all the widowed links on my laptop's desktop.  That's the part that shows when I switch on a projector in front of an unwitting audience. Like a front stoop, I wanted to sweep and tidy up a bit before opening the door to strangers.  After a busy spring, including three trips to overseas schools, it was a cluttered mess.

I would be relentless.  I would be thorough.  I promised not to save one KB that couldn't be filed in an accessible place. No duplicates.  No mercy.  I started hitting the delete button with the fury and satisfaction of a whack-a-mole ace. 

The poem above was one of the saved documents, titled inauspiciously, Version 1.  I had already deleted 4 or 5 other Version 1s (different poems).  Version 1 means that I was writing this poem with a group of students or teachers and telegraphing to them that this wouldn't be the end of this writing process.  There would be other versions to come; we didn't have to get it right the first time. 

And while I couldn't claim authorship of this wee poem, I couldn't seem to hit delete either.  It was pretty good.  Was it about teacher protests in Wisconsin?  I was there last winter.  Was it about Occupy Wall Street?  I was on the East Coast.  It took me a day of hard thinking to remember -- it was written by a group of high school students at the Western Academy of Beijing.  It was International Day and the text we used to mine the words for our poem was a Time Magazine article about the Arab Spring.

I have always (secretly) thought the term "found poem" to be kind of amusing.  What other types are there, really?  Aren't they all?  Lost poems are the ones written on the backs of envelopes and then left on the bus or that voracious pocket on the seat in front of me on an airplane.  Lost poems are always the best pieces of writing to ever to walk across the page and out of our lives. 

But this, I can honestly say, is indeed a "found poem."  Found and then found again.  Lucky me.