Whittled Words – Found Poem

Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:





This poem is not my typical style. In fact, I had very little involvement in composing this poem outside of how the line breaks were structured. This is a “found” poem that was originally an essay on world peace written many years ago by a student, K. K. Ghai.

Found poetry is all about taking words not originally meant to be a poem (as they originally appeared) and turning those words into a poem anyway. You can use newspaper articles, bits of conversation, instructions, recipes, letters, e-mails, direct mail and even spam e-mail (they may have some value after all).

With found poetry, you do not alter the original words, but you can make line breaks and cut out excess before and/or after the poem you’ve “found.” The power of found poetry is how words not intended as poetry can take on new and profound meanings as found poems.

For instance, the essay I read was informative, but not poetic in any sense. But then, the content stuck with me, and I began thinking about the importance of the message. There were phrases and concepts, that even when removed from the surrounding text and context, still rung clearly true.

As a result, this well-crafted essay that was intended to try and get people to think about peace, what it is, and how we achieve it, takes on a much different commentary as a found poem. Broken down to core elements, I believe it still holds the power and promise of the original text.

Not every found poem is required to make a commentary, but this is one example. For “writing” your own found poems, you just need to continue doing what all writers do: Pay attention to your surroundings. If you find something interesting, see if it will work as a poem.


Examples of Found Poems:



by John Giorno

(Taken from a periodical article)



An unemployed


An unemployed machinist

who travelled


who travelled here

from Georgia

from Georgia 10 days ago

10 days ago

and could not find

a job

and could not find a job


into a police station

walking into a police station

yesterday and said


and said:

“I’m tired

of being scared

I’m tired of being scared.”



By Sandra Cisneros

(Taken from “Eleven”)

ugly red sweater

raggedy and old

plastic buttons

all stretched out

like a jump rope

A thousand years old

all itchy and full of germs

 smells like cottage cheese

“That’s not, I don’t , you’re not…Not mine”



By Brad Osborne

(Taken from an essay by K. K. Ghai)


The issue of war and peace

in all periods of history

relations among nations

concern of the humankind

All religion

all religious scriptures

are committed to the cause of peace

advocate an elimination of war

The Shanti Path

sermons of Pope

commands of all the holy scriptures

Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs

Highly destructive two World Wars

first half of the 20th century

blood soaked shreds of humanity

scattered in several hundred battle grounds

People of the United Nations

determined to save succeeding generations

the most urgent and important international objective

has been to preserve, protect, and defend peace

Institutionalization of relations among nations

integration of international community

strengthening of human consciousness

humankind has been trying to secure peace against war

What is peace?

absence of war is the first condition

cooperative and harmonious conduct

the protection of human rights of all


I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Found poem. Thanks for reading!


19 Responses to “Whittled Words – Found Poem”
  1. beth says:

    I love found poems!

  2. kristianw84 says:

    This is really interesting!! I might have to give this one a try. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. I don’t have any found poem to share, but I love yours.
    Sending love

  4. petespringerauthor says:

    Three excellent pieces. I enjoyed the rhythm of An Unemployed Machinist.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I thought that one was a great example of the form, Pete, and gives the reader a better sense of how found poems can be discovered in the most common of written material. Thanks for reading!

  5. Jim Borden says:

    I’ve never heard of this, but it is quite interesting. While I have not read the original, your poem seems to enhance what the author was trying to say.

  6. Quite interesting this style. I had never heard of something like found poetry, I had known that in art there is a sort of movement where they use found objects to supposedly create art but this idea for poetry I didn’t know and I like it! Your found poem was brilliant, by the way, in content and in its natural rhythmic flow. Great work, great edition of this lovely series! Have a great weekend my friend!

  7. 💖💖 I also makes poetry and i hope you read it and by the way! Great poem

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