Fire of Hate: A Found Poem about Relationship Abuse

By Lucy Syvarth

For my found poem, I used the lyrics from the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem. This song is about relationship abuse from the perspective of the abuser himself. Instead of keeping the same point of view of the abuser, I made my found poem from the perspective of the woman being abused. My method was to read the lyrics of the song over and over again while listening to it and picking out the most powerful words and phrases that stood out to me. I then printed the lyrics and cut out these words and phrases. I would look at them and think about what I want those words to say in the bigger picture. For example, when I saw the word “game”, I wanted to fabricate that into the speaker feeling like a game to be played. Additionally, with the word “suffocate”, I wanted the speaker to feel as if being with her abuser is suffocating. I also wanted to use the phrase “Here we go again” at the beginning and the end of the poem. I did this to show that abuse is a vicious cycle that is very hard to get out of. I left the last phrase without a period to create a sense of the poem being unfinished because this abuse isn’t over either. Additionally, I used the space on the page to space out lines that are meant to be read more slowly and space lines close to each other that are meant to be read quickly. I also taped the words on the page haphazardly to show that these are more jumbled thoughts of someone being abused rather than a thought out speech. I also shadowed some of the words with the same word for phrases that are meant to be read with more emotion, as if the speaker’s voice is breaking.

This poem means a lot to me, not only because I worked hard on it and put a lot of effort into it, but because I can relate to the speaker’s experiences. I put a lot of my own emotion into this poem. And even though the speaker feels broken down and trapped, I wrote this from the perspective of how I used to feel. Working on this poem empowered me because I realize how differently I now feel ever since I got out of that abusive relationship. Also, the song is about the same issue that my poem is about so it is nice to know that there are people that can relate. They take those issues and create them into a piece of art, whether it be a song or a poem. I never thought much about Zong! and what a found poem means but now that I created my own, I understand much better. It is about taking a piece of something that means a lot to you and making it into your own piece in order to tell a story and illustrate the feelings they bring up. I learned that you can take something that upsets you and create it into something to tell your story and empower you.

Climate Change

For my poem, I chose an article from National Geographic about climate change. This article was about climate change around the world and how it has been and will continue to affect us. I chose this article for my found poem because the topic of climate change gets me anxious and I worry about the future, especially for my family and future family. When I read the article, it continues to upset me because there is not much we can do to reverse the damages. This article helped to put into perspective the amount of change that has occurred and how much the climate will continue to change.

When writing this poem I felt that cutting words was the most effective. The way I structured it was to put emphasis on words and phrases that were heavily discussed and most impactful from the article. I grouped the most common words and phrases that were repeated throughout the article together. Those seemed to jump out me as I was reading becase they were repeated so many times. I then spread the words and phrases out on the right side of the page because to me it felt as if those words and phrases were scattered like that when I was reading the article.

I really enjoyed doing this type of poetry. It is different and shows how each person thinks differently. It also shows creativity.

-Jordyn Ferguson

Most Privileged Complexion

For my poem, I chose to use an article by Brian Jones, where he describes his experience growing up African American in America. I decide to do this because there are many experiences that African-Americans face in America that other people do not have to face. Even though African Americans face these experiences, they are still able to prosper and succeed. As I was making this poem, I kept on thinking about how African Americans can succeed when there are many things in their way. I choose words thinking back to me growing up in America, whether it be how I felt during a certain point of time or how I believe African Americans feel in America. I then decided to arrange all the negative things at the beginning of the poem in longer phrases to emphasize how it is something that is continuously felt by African Americans. I added the “but” on its own line to show that there is another way to look at it. Then I added everything else as short phases to stress how society sometimes look down on you for the color of your skin, but you can still shine and discover who you are and still achieve greatness.
As I was writing this poem, I was thinking about how it is harder to be African American in this country, but at the same time, it is a gift. I have had many experiences that shaped who I am today due to my skin color, and if that were to change, I would be a completely different person. From me doing this poem, I have learned that something does not need to be long or wordy to be powerful or have meaning behind it. This is also helping me to understand poems and even ZONG! Better because it helps me to realize that the words are not placed in any random order, it is placed the way it is to convey a message, and the words that are chosen were chosen for a specific reason.

By: Safiya Tonico

A pregnant 11-year-old rape victim by Roisin Ross

For my found poem, I chose an article about a new law in Ohio that wouldn’t allow abortion after the 6-week mark. Commonly labeled as a “heartbeat bill”, these types of abortion laws have been popping up all around the country recently. But the one in Ohio is especially restrictive because it doesn’t allow exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

The article talks about an 11-year old girl who was raped by a 26-year old man and became pregnant. Although the article gave no indication regarding the 11-year old’s choice about her pregnancy, it did delve into the fact that soon, other girls like her won’t have a choice.

I chose to cut out my words so I could have more flexibility with the words I could use and their placement. I made the word “choice” out of several other words in the article. I quoted “protect the most vulnerable” because it was part of a quote from the Ohio governor when he signed the bill into law. The most vulnerable he refers to are fetuses, and I counter him with the 11-year old being a vulnerable person. I sprinkle “Ohio” throughout the poem because although other states have very restrictive laws, this is all taking place in Ohio and it is especially restrictive. In lines 11 and 12, I chose to put “Ohio” in the same lines to transform them into commands, rather than just a reminder of it all being in Ohio.

I’ve done blackout poetry before, but I definitely prefer this method of cutting out the poem so I have more choice in what I say and where I say it.

A Story Like Mine

For my poem I chose to use Halsey’s poem “A Story Like Mine,” of which she recited at the 2018 Women’s March. While reading and going through this poem, I chose the most provoking words and phrases and pasted them into a time line almost. I specifically used pink paper as my background, as this is a speech supporting women who have been sexually abused. I scattered and tapered the words, only putting the year of each story all the way at the beginning of the page and the end phrase all the way at the end of the page, to show how hectic panic and frazzled thoughts were for these women in times of figuring out what happened to them and how to handle it.

When I first saw this poem recited on tv, it made me very upset. The fact that many women go through this and keep quiet or keep it very low just as Halsey did for the longest time breaks my heart. As I was reading this poem, I specifically pulled out provoking words and phrases like “he held her down” and “I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs” in order to bring to light the fact that these assaults are happening to women at such young age and forcing them to grow up way earlier than they needed to. I then proceeded to use phrases like, “take it as a compliment” and “I can’t tell anyone at all” to further bring to light the stigma that women are supposed to keep quiet about these assaults that happen to them. I then finish with more positive phrases, like “love your neighbor and “be a voice” to encourage women to speak up, just as Halsey did at this women’s march. This encourages women that you can win the battle against these assaults and that it is okay to speak up against these assailants, which is why I end my poem with her final phrase, “there’s a war to be won.”

-Sophia Chimenti

Pumped Up Kicks: Cheerful Tune or Stark Warning?

For my found poem, I chose to analyze the song Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. The song seems like a fun, entertaining tune but it has a deeper stark meaning. Foster the People wanted to bring school shootings to attention through the lyrics and even though it was recorded in 2010, it is still unfortunately prevalent in society today. To convey this hidden message, I chose to emit every time “pumped up kicks” came up. I didn’t want readers to automatically know the poem was about the song and wanted to build a story about the shooter himself.

I followed a pattern of introducing a situation on the left side of the paper, transitioning it in the middle, then stating the chorus on the right. I introduced Robert, or the shooter, and how he was an odd kid who found a gun. Then stated how he was coming for you, which I liked because it brings the reader in personally like it is affecting them. The next section I introduced his dad and how he works hard and comes home late yet transition it with Robert having a fatal surprise for him. I also changed the chorus each time. To begin I kept more words in and started it with “All the other kids” but then changed it to “All the kids” and finally ended it with “All kids.” I did this to show the progression and how the violence at first affects only a select few but can grow and grow to injure kids and families from everywhere.

Creating this I learned a lot in how to convey a specific message. I was able to take a song that many people listen to in a joyful mood and show them what it is really about and how it was produced almost a decade ago yet is still rampant in our society. It also relates to how desensitized we are to lyrics like this which again shows how school shootings and violence are part of our every-day lives.

Found Poem: Sexuality Scrambles Mind By Leah Bernhardt

So, the article I chose was about a seminar back in 2018 explaining how women should act and dress in the workplace. The seminar got a lot of back lash for various of reasons but mostly about the appalling contents presented in the seminar. According to the article, women shouldn’t show their skin, shouldn’t be aggressive like men, and they shouldn’t talk to men face to face. From a basic look at the article, one would get offended with the treatment of women in the seminar but from their point of view they thought this would prevent future sexual harassment. In the end, they could have done this seminar in a less offensive way so that the women won’t feel trapped in the workplace based on their identity.

In order to create my found poem, I first started off with a blank white paper for the background. Then I looked at the article and decided on words that they used to describe femininity where women shouldn’t speak ill towards men, having no short skirts, and that sexuality scrambles the mind. After I found the words that mainly explained the event in the seminar, I made the words larger and printed off the article. After printing the pages off, I then cut each specific word out and taped them to the plain white paper. When taping the words to the paper I kept in mind the spacing and how each word impacted the reader. With the spacing of the words, the reader has time to think about how the words reflects to the ideals of femininity and how it contrasts with modern society.

After working on this found poem, I learned that using less words creates more of an impact on the piece. The fewer words makes the reader think more about the meaning without the meaning popping out and ruining the mystery. With Zong!, it creates the same idea as portrayed in my found poem, fewer words, bigger impact.

Time by Lidia Sferrazza

My poem uses words and phrases from a news article about the Brock Turner Stanford rape case. It is specifically about the criminal being released after only 6 months of jail time. This article angered me because it seemed as though Brock Turner would not admit to the crime he committed and only blamed his actions on alcohol. I chose to cut out the words “six years”, “30 seconds”, “six months” etc. and listed them to show the contrast between how much time he should have gotten in prison, to how much time he really got, to the number of seconds it could take to completely destroy someone’s life, and how easy it was for him to do this. 
I arranged the words in vertical lists that could also be read horizontally. If read vertically, the words are similarly grouped together, but if read horizontally, each of the phrases on top of the page could end with variations of the word “victim” and “justice” to show that Turner turned someone innocent into a victim, and this victim deserves justice. On the second half of the page, I wanted to focus on the victim herself, so I included some of her own words to show the strong impact that a rape can have on someone emotionally. Working on the poem was emotional for me because it got very specific about the rape, so I wanted to include some of that raw emotion by using the second person in the words “you have triggered my pain… outrage… damage…” I wanted to point a finger at the reader, almost like “you” are the criminal and I am the victim, to help intensify the issue. Hopefully, this can emphasize the long term emotional effects of rape victims and what they have to go through to recover from this traumatic event. Writing this poem made me think a lot about repetition. Especially because the word “victim” was repeated several times: this is the most accurate way to describe the woman. I also titled the poem “Time” because the victim will be a victim for the rest of her life, and giving Turner “time” in prison is only a small way to help her recover.

Lidia Sferrazza

Is rape to die for? -Sadie Royce

Artist statement:

To explain the title before anything else because it sounds a bit wrong, the article I made my found poem from discussed if the crime rape was worthy of being punished with the death penalty. Most cases that have been punished with the death penalty have been child rape though. I chose this as the topic for my found poem because many rapists today are faced with unfitting sentences most of the time and, in my opinion, tend to not be rightly punished. Five have been actually killed through the death penalty but for child rape. The Supreme Court ruled that it was not a proportionate crime for the rape of an adult woman which was particularly irritating. I’m not completely sure where I stand due to things like wrongful convictions and whatnot but it is still a very intimate topic to me at least. Especially in today’s age where women tend to be ignored anyway. The article even talks about a prejudice jury pool. I mean it is hard to not have a preset notion for a sexual offense case so I can’t blame people for that. The downside is that it leads to more guilty verdicts and obviously more death sentences which is what the last three lines are in reference to. Hope it makes sense to you!

A Tragedy By: Michael Wentling-Raymie

              For my found poem I used one page from an article describing the Eric Gardner killing by officer Pantaleo. On this page I only used half of it cutting off the other half to make it a smaller surface to bring more emphasis on the area I was working on. At first I wanted to cut the words out and have the words with a little white surrounding them on a black page, but then I decided that it would have more meaning and make the words “pop” more if I just used black marker to black out the words I didn’t want to use. This gave it more meaning showing that there is more white on the page then there is black. The words I chose to keep were the words that you usually see in every article describing a killing of an unarmed black man such as, “a tragedy” and “was doing his job.” It seems like every time  someone is killed these are the same words that are just repeated in every article and news cycle. These words just make me feel like the same thing just keeps repeating itself and has no end, a sense of it never changing.

              I learned from the experience that found poems, even with only a few words, can have large impacts and several interpretations. When creating these you would think it would take a only a couple minutes to construct but in order to create a good one you have to take your time and think about the meaning and the power each word on the page carries. The background as well as the arrangement of words gives each found poem new meaning.