Beautiful Pain: Found Poems and Creative Healing

Show of hands, who’s heard of ‘found poems’?   Ahhh I see some of you aren’t acquainted.  Here’s a simple explanation.

My explanation will be even simpler, a found poem is when you take existing text (from anywhere) and eliminate or rearrange words to make a poem. The text can be from a magazine, newspaper, romance novel, it doesn’t matter, there are really very few rules.

For our purposes, we will file found poems away under ‘journaling’. We here at WYG love journaling as a grief coping tool because it helps you explore your grief-related thoughts and experiences in a private and accessible way that is available to anyone with a pen and paper. Even better is the fact that journals can’t talk back, tell your secrets, or judge.

That said, sometimes people can feel uneasy about having all their vulnerable, mean, raw and real feelings written down on paper. This is why we love found poems; they allow you to take any text and turn it into something lyrical and poetic. Even text that is ugly, angry, frustrated, and sad. Just like with grief, although pain lies under the surface, if you work the soil something wise, honest, lyrical, and poetic can spring forth. There are two simple steps for found poems:

Step One: Freewrite about your grief. You may want to choose to write about negative feelings like guilt and regret because in step two you get to cover those words up and turn them into something beautiful. Write for as long as you like, but you will probably want to write a page at the very least.

Here’s a personal example…

Then transform it:

Step Two:

Now experiment with removing or crossing out sections of your text. You can reread your text first and make a plan for the emotion or theme you want to convey in your found poem, or you can just dive in and keep the words and phrases that feel most pleasing. Don’t worry about rules, form, or punctuation. You can use text of any length, but for your first try, it may be easiest to use a small amount of text.


Share your found poems with us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. Also, be sure to subscribe to our blog on the right side of the page.

November 4, 2019


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