I’m not just a hoarder of books – I’m a hoarder of words. A very well organized hoarder, but a hoarder nonetheless. I have files and boxes full of papers, all with a certain meaning to me. There are reading packets from college courses I found particularly interesting, quotes written on post-its, notes passed back and forth in class and endless piles of poetry. They’re organized by type, vaguely by time period, all labeled and stacked on shelves.
I recently read a story about a man who turned unintentionally hilarious software patch updates from The Sims into a piece of found poetry. For those unfamiliar with the medium, found poetry is pretty much exactly what it sounds like it would be. It’s a method of crafting poetry by taking lines or words from another document, usually something functional like a manual or an activity log. When you encounter statements such as “Sims will no longer walk on water to view paintings placed on swimming pool walls,” it’s fairly easy to craft it into comedy gold.
Reading that article reminded me of a found poem I had written my junior year in college. I was taking a linguistics course that was close to incomprehensible to me, and I had a tendency to drift a bit in class. I remember sitting in the classroom, staring at the textbook, and having my eyes start to pull random words from the page. None of it made much sense to me as paragraphs, but I began forming new meaning out of the chaos. I wrote a few poems instead of taking notes.
Flash forward ten years, and I’m sitting on the floor of my room, flipping through notebooks, trying to find that one yellow page of Steno paper that I know contains the only interesting thing to come out of Typology and Universals. I even flipped through the book itself, also still on my shelf, thinking that maybe I stuck the poem into it somewhere. I found stacks of other poems. Poems I didn’t know existed. Some I wrote when I was a kid. Some are actually phenomenally good.
I was pretty sure the poem was lost in the ether, but then last night I remembered having a poetry binder at some point in the past. Sure enough, in a storage bin in my closet, there was another stack of folders, files and binders, one of them the poetry collection I was searching for. I opened it up, and tucked into the pocket at the top of the pile, was that little yellow paper I had been seeking. Considering there are literally hundreds of papers crammed into this literary time capsule, it was quite fortuitous that this was the first of the bunch.
So, after a metaphoric quest only a poet could fully appreciate, here are the found poems I truly thought I’d lost.
an instance of erosion
the root is adapted
but adaptation could also be
the final segment
may just drop out suddenly
may be triggered by environment
J’ai lu le livre
Je l’ai lu