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J.I. Kleinberg on Finding

"Every journey is about finding," says J.I. (Judy) Kleinberg, an artist and writer who has created over 1,000 found poems. "We look for the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle and if we happen to find it, we often discover that the puzzle itself has grown and there are more pieces to find."

"My found poems evolved out of a combined interest in poetry and collage," she explains. "Browsing through magazines for images, I noticed 'accidental' phrases that were created through the happenstance of page layout: words that had no connection with each other in the original text took on new meaning when they were read down instead of left to right. My process is all about finding that unintentional syntax and combining small word chunks into poems."

Kleinberg lives in Bellingham, Washington and is co-author of Fat Stupid Ugly: One Woman’s Courage to Survive and co-editor of Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington. She shares her work at Chocolate is a Verb and The Poetry Department.

J.I. Kleinberg offers three good books on the theme of finding:
by Lynda Barry

Cartoonist Lynda Barry thinks on paper and those familiar black-and-white-marbled-cover composition books are her favorite medium. She’s been keeping such notebooks for more than 40 years. Explaining what this process does for her, she says, “I’m after what Marilyn Frasca [her teacher] called ‘being present and seeing what’s there.’” In other words, finding. As Barry started teaching this practice to students in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her notes, syllabi and drawings helped her and her students find their way into the course. Syllabus is a wonderful collection that tracks that process for three years. It’s part how-to, part comics and a lot of smart Lynda Barry reflection. My favorite quote: "We know that athletes, musicians, and actors all have to practice, rehearse, repeat things until it gets into the body, the ‘muscle memory,’ but for some reason, writers and visual artists think they have to be inspired before they make something, not suspecting the physical act of writing or drawing is what brings that inspiration about. Worrying about its worth and value to others before it exists can keep us immobilized forever."

Fishing a Familiar Pond
by Sheila Sondik

Each April, for National Poetry Month, the folks at The Found Poetry Review challenge a group of participating poets to create a found poem each day of the month adhering to specific guidelines. In 2013, the 85 participants each chose a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and used the text as their source. Sheila Sondik chose The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and her 30 Pulitzer Remix poems were published as a chapbook by Egress Studio Press. The Yearling is a haunting story that many of us know from childhood and while Sondik’s poems respectfully borrow elements of the book’s language and poignant tale, they morph the story into something entirely new, touching and lyrical.

A Tale for the Time Being 
by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki’s novel is all about finding. Young Nao is finding her way through her own difficult teenage life and into her grandmother’s story. Walking the beach near her island home, another character, Ruth, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox with various things inside that affect her deeply and draw her into a mystery. The two women, along with a carefully drawn supporting cast, struggle forward in their nearly parallel search. The writing is warm and filled with humor and profound reflection. As a side note, if you enjoy listening to books, Ruth Ozeki reads the recorded version herself and it’s wonderful.

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