Wednesday Writing Workouts: Found Poetry

If you missed last weeks work out, fret not, you can catch up here.

This week we will be working out using newspapers and/or books and/or your university dissertation, basically any form of written word.

The Found Poetry Workout

(30min workout)

Materials you will need: 
– Old magazines / old newspaper / Any bit of text written down.
– Scissors (version 1 of the workout)
– Glue/ Sellotape (version 1 of the workout)
– Marker pen (version 2 of the workout)
– Pencil (version 2 of the workout)

Top tip – you can photocopy / rewrite any text and work on the photocopy so that you don’t ruin the original. 

Though this workout is called the Found Poetry Workout, you can use this workout for any creative medium. Poetry works best as this method is all about working with minimal words.
There are two different ways of doing this workout.


Version 1. Cut Ups – beginner level
Cutting up bits of newspaper. 

This style of creating surreal poetry, is sometimes known as the Dadaist style, a style often used by Tristan Tzara.

Some of you may have done this in school. Cut up bits of newspaper and magazines and then stuck them down to create ‘anonymous notes’. The principle is the same. Except instead of going for ransom notes, this style is about finding words and putting them together to string a coherent line of poetry.

Ransom Note

The best ones use text and typeface that doesn’t juxtapose. Whereas with ransom notes, the style calls for different and contrasting colours and typefaces, cut up poetry doesn’t. You can cut up and arrange words, or even phrases. Some poets cut up other peoples’ poems and then recreate them. Whatever you create will be yours, but do be sure to properly credit the original poet/poem.


Other versions of this Cut Up workout, come in the form of fridge poetry. Word magnets on your fridge that can be moved to create poetic pieces.

If the idea of actually cutting up pieces of paper and sticking them down seems like too much work, there are apps and online sites that allow you do something similar. This site  (Language is a virus) allows you to use other poets’ and writers’ most used words to create your own pieces of work.

An example of Fridge Poetry (

Version 2. Erasure – intermediate level
Creating poetry straight onto the page

This method of creating found poetry is about creating pieces within pieces of work that already exist. the point here is to let us see the original, just enough that we know the context. It creates a tone for your poetry. This style of creating poetry is more like ‘found poetry’ than cut up poetry, because you are truly using what you find.

Start with a page, a newspaper article, or a magazine page. And scan the page for words you like, and underline them with a pencil. You may need to read over the page a number of times before you find words or a  group of words in order that you’d like to use.

Then, using a marker you can either circle the words, or you can black out all the other words on the page leaving only the words you have chosen to create a piece of poetry.

See some examples below:

Black Out (erasure) poetry:

An example of Erasure Poems:


Most importantly, for this workout, is to remember that there is no right or wrong answer. Pieces created will be uniquely yours. The poetry also makes for great wall art.

Tweet us with your found poetry to @tcsnetwork_

Afshan D'souza-Lodhi
Afshan D'souza-Lodhi is a poet and playwright based in Manchester. As well as her own writing Afshan is keen to develop other younger and emerging artists. You can find her fighting against police brutality and injustice alongside the Northern Police Monitoring Project.

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