Publishing Op: Using The New York Times to Create “Found Poetry”

Posted April 18, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

At the beginning of the WITS teaching year, I ask my students what they collect. They list items such as teddy bears, stamps, rocks, and snow globes. Next I ask them what they think I collect. They know I’m a writer so they often guess things such as pencils, erasers, or journals. Then, I pull out a box and open the lid. Inside are hundreds and hundreds of words and phrases that I’ve cut out of magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and old books. I tell them that I collect words and that I keep them in boxes and baskets around my house. When I feel stuck or bored with my writing, I often turn to my collection of “found” words for inspiration.

Students respond enthusiastically to the concept of “Found Poetry.” If you’d like to try out a fun newspaper-based lesson with your students, read The Learning Network: Student Challenge | Create a New York Times ‘Found Poem’. Students are asked to choose words and phrases from one Times article and re-combine them into a poem. If the results are fantastic, there is a contest for students ages 13 and up that is sponsored by The New York Times (see above article for rules and submission guidelines). The deadline is Monday, April 19 at 5 p.m. E.S.T.

Writer in the Limelight: Eduardo Rodriguez-Solis

Posted February 11, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

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12 year WITS writer Eduardo Rodriguez-Solis got a bravo review from the New York Times last week for his play Las Ondas de la Catrina which is being performed in 28 locations in the New York metropolitan area in both Spanish and English.  Here’s an excerpt that reveals the spirit of the six tales that somehow make us laugh in the face of death:

As for the tales, they all have a lot to laugh at: the man who died of a bouquet, the drunk who drowned twice, the fat woman killed by the desire to diet, the peacemaker who assumed people in a fight really want peace, and the man who overdosed on a cheese taco.

But the one that tops the evening is a droll yarn about a television addict. From the roaches and a mouse that have taken over her unkempt house to the talking television set and a repairman who checks it out with the touch and the command to cough that doctors use to test for hernias, the characters are delightfully ridiculous. None is more so than the addict herself, whose hair comes into a wild life of its own just as she leaves hers with a little current jolt from the idiot box.

Congratulations, Eduardo, for keeping us all in stitches.