Found poem: stories we tell ourselves

On Ethical ELA’s VerseLove today, Amy Vetter invites teacher-writers to compose found poems: “A found poem is like a collage…find a text (e.g. a novel) or series of texts (e.g., novel, poem, article) and pull out words, phrases, sentences that stick out to you. Play around with the words. Rearrange them until a thought or theme jumps out at you. Continue until you’ve created a cohesive text.”

My found poem comes from Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious, Amanda Gorman’s poem “Arborescent I” from Call Us What We Carry, and A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, Daniel J. Levitin.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

I read a story
about people who 
built towns
crowned a king
and enjoyed 
a great many 
quarrels and troubles 
all of which 
they created quite 
by themselves

for our brains are built
to make stories as 
they take in the vastness
of the world

we forget
looking at a city
through the window 
of a train
that we’re only seeing
the part
with the train tracks
running through it
not the whole

blow the whistle
open the door
but it is shut
and locked

the brain
makes up its mind
-it is a very powerful
self-justifying machine

and so 
for selective windowing
we would again
give up our world

Train WindowNoJuanCC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

5 thoughts on “Found poem: stories we tell ourselves

  1. Your poem includes a powerful reminder about the limitations of vision. I agree that those limitations affect our inner narrative. I take your final stanza as a challenge to regain the world via a broader view.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is interesting to “find” a poem with a theme from various books across genres – for example, in this one the whistle isn’t even from the book with the train (Field Guide), it’s from the fantasy (Search for Delicious). “Selective windowing” is from A Field Guide to Lies and the last two lines are from Gorman. Mainly I am playing with pieces to see what comes together but, yes, your summary about the final stanza is right. In basing assumptions on parts (also called “cherry-picking”), or in not seeing more of the whole picture, our narratives about the world are unreliable – causing loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow….just, wow, Fran. These lines fit together so well, it’s hard to believe they came from different sources. The image of our thinking being limited by windows, as we race on through time and place, not really seeing everything is amazing. The Universe doling out wisdom as it does, I am reading your words as I’m once again grappling with the inequity I experience at my Title I campus, as my social media feeds are flooded with the opportunities availed to the students on my former high-SES campus. They are going on carefree field trips, while we are scrambling to give some sense of stability and remediation to scholars who can barely read and write and hold it together through a school day. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re so clever. Great photo! Your poem makes me think of the saying “The grass always looks greener on the other side.” or “Don’t judge a book by its cover” Our brains our indeed amazing and yet so many people continue to do this “selective windowing”. What I find fascinating is how much we DON’T know about our brains.
    Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s