How To Write Poetry

Found poetry is a fun and creative way to play around with poetry. Grab a magazine, scissors, glue, and paper, and find out how to create this type of poetry.

How To Write Found Poetry

Tynea Lewis By more by Tynea Lewis

What is found poetry? 

Found poetry is a creative way to write a poem using various texts. Essentially, it is a collage of words and phrases found from other pieces of writing. 

How do you write a found poem? 

  1. Select the material you would like to use for inspiration. It could be magazines, newspapers, pages from a book, or cereal boxes. It could be a mix of all these things. Basically, anything that has words can be used. 
  2. Flip through the magazine, newspaper, etc. to see which words or phrases jump out at you. 
  3. Cut out the words/phrases that pique your interest. It’s okay if you end up with more than you think you’ll need. 
  4. Start playing with their arrangement. As you look at the words you’ve collected, is there a certain topic or theme that stands out to you? Explore that.
  5. Once you decide on the best arrangement of the words, glue them on a piece of paper to create your found poem. 

Maybe you want to write multiple poems with the same words. If so, take a picture of the poem you've put together before moving on to the next creation. 

If you’re not gluing your words, keep them in a container. That will allow you to come back to use them for a different project at a later time. 

You might even want to add magnetic tape to the back of them and create your own magnetic poetry that you’ll be able to use on a whiteboard or a refrigerator. 

Can you create a found poem on a phone or tablet?

Yes, there are digital ways to create found poems, so you won’t even need to search for newspapers or magazines to use to cut out words.

Magnetic Poetry has an online option that allows visitors to select from a handful of word kits. The words can be easily manipulated on the screen to create a found poem. 

Google Play also offers an Android app that allows users to create found poetry with word lists. Poetry Magnets provides nearly 700 words (with additional lists available for purchase). Unlike Magnetic Poetry, the same word can be used multiple times. Words can also be arranged alphabetically. 

poetry app

Does a found poem have to rhyme? 

A found poem is a form of free verse poetry, so it does not have to rhyme. It also does not have to follow specific guidelines pertaining to the number of syllables, lines, or stanzas. You have full creative control. 

What is the difference between a found poem and a blackout poem? 

A blackout poem is a form of found poetry. With a blackout poem, words are redacted (removed) from a single text to create a poem from one page of writing. Instead of cutting out and rearranging words from multiple texts, the poet works with a single sheet of text to uncover words in the piece that flow nicely to create a poem. Once you are finished with this activity, most of the page will be “blacked out.” 

What do you use for a blackout poem? 

You will need a sheet of text (from a magazine, newspaper, old book, etc.), a pencil, and a dark Sharpie, marker, or crayon. 

How do you write a blackout poem? 

  1. Select the material you would like to use. It could be a newspaper or magazine article. Maybe it’s a page from a book you’ve read or an old paper you’ve written. 
  2. Read through the article a few times, and use a pencil to lightly circle key words that stand out to you each time you read. 
  3. Read through the circled words to find the flow of a poem you like. You might end up getting rid of some of the words you thought you’d keep, and you might add in some smaller words to connect your thoughts. 
  4. Once you’ve decided on the words that will be used in the poem, circle them with your marker. Then begin blacking out the rest of the page until you are only left with the words of the poem shining through the darkness of the page. 

How do you make a digital blackout poem?

Blackout poetry can also be created online. There’s no need to rip out pages of a book or worry if you accidentally blacken words you want to keep. Changes are very easy to make on a digital version of blackout poetry.  

  1. Select a single digital passage you would like to use.
  2. Open Google Slides, Google Docs, Powerpoint, or something similar. 
  3. Paste the text and format it the way you’d like it to appear on the page. 
  4. Change the background to a color other than white or black. If you’re using Google Docs, you’ll have to change the page color (file-->page setup-->page color).
  5. As you read through the passage, highlight (in white) words/phrases you think you might use in the poem.
  6. Read through the passage multiple times, fine-tuning the highlighted words each time.
  7. Once you are happy with the words you’ve selected and the poem’s flow, change the background to black.
  8. Voila, you have just created a digital blackout poem. Don’t forget to save your work. 

With blackout poetry, it can be fun to use the same text with a group of people. Even though everyone has the same piece to start with, each person’s poem will be different. 

We hope you have fun with these creative ways to make poetry.



Tynea Lewis is an editor for Family Friend Poems and helped to develop the National Poetry Month Resources for Family Friend Poems. She started her career as an elementary teacher and has had a passion for writing since she was in 1st grade.

For over a decade, she was the...

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