In response to the question “What is poetry?,” Robert Frost is said to have replied, “Poetry is the kind of thing poets write.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation and I appreciate that – because I’m a proponent of poetry in everyday life. Poetry is all around us all the time. I’m definitely not the first to think, write, or say that; if you turn the radio on you can have various forms of modern lyrical poetry accompanied by music sang to you all day long. I especially love the surprise poem – a moment you see a sign or an advertisement or read a sentence in a book and it becomes unexpectedly poetic to you.
This “Found Poem” (photo and composition also by me) was inspired by Ronald Gross’ (b. 1935) famous poem “Yield” (which I could not find a good link to online, sadly) in which he combined street signs together to make a poem. He had also worked with arranging everyday text like news stories and tax forms to discover poetry. In this archived article, he talks about this kind of “Found Poetry.” He says that “Found Poetry” typically preserves the words as they originally appear, but may rearrange them into lines to “bring out their poetic quality.”
These lines came from Dr. Amir D. Aczel’s new book Why Science does not Disprove God (a book that manages to set sparks flying no matter what side of the debate you tend to fall on – the comments section on any article on it are like a firestorm from both sides – example). They are at the end of a paragraph in the middle of Chapter 10, but they struck me as particularly descriptive and poetic, so I rearranged the lines and paired them with a photograph I took of Paul Manship’s Indian Hunter outside of the MFA Boston.
But it can be even simpler and ordinary than that – the poem above was written by someone at Hallmark probably over a decade ago – it is the front of a greeting card I bought at least that long ago because it spoke to me and I’ve always enjoyed the playful and joyous sentiment. Robert Frost didn’t define “poet” or “poetry” in his reply because it surrounds us everyday and sometimes we see it and sometimes we don’t and sometimes it catches us as we walk by and gives our sleeve a yank.