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NaPoWriMo Poetry Prompt 24: Remix It Up

Sarah and Jeff Boyle

Difficulty Level 2/5

Remember, a week or two ago, when we made erasures? Today we're making a different kind of found poetry, the remix poem. The idea is pretty straightforward: find a text that someone else wrote. Then write a poem using ONLY the words and phrases in that text. Want to address your poem to a "you" but the text only has pronouns in the third person? Tough: think of something you can do with the words in front of you and nothing else.

Here's an example from poet Paulette Beete. She took the words from a review of Carmine Starnino's book Lazy Bastardism written by Michael Lista and Gwyneth Lewis and originally published in the April 2013 issue of Poetry, and used them to write this poem:

On Poetry

When deep within its nebulous corset
the poem dares disturb the peace
for God’s sake, do not make eye contact.
At best it’s an axe-grindy tattletale,
at worse a begloomed pilgrim wandering
the road less traveled. Poems are,
of course, notoriously short on epidermis.
Dylan Thomas used to describe a poem
as walking over glass on your eyeballs.
Unpigeonholability’s one of the forces
that makes poetry the raspberry in the face.
These vowel movements—combative,
dopamine-inducing, stabby—will help
a poet grow up, immediately make him want
to do something else.

(Poem originally appeared in Open Letters Monthly. Reproduced here with permission of the poet.)

And poet Renee Bartovics remixed this poem just for us! Here's what she started with:

And here's the poem she wrote:

Raising Night's Curtain

In the North Land
sunlight overslept-
nowhere in sight.

I awoke.
Looking outside
my eye caught it;
not a minute to waste.
Pulling up to the valley-
hanging in the woods-
parting my window curtains
and bedroom;

winding its way ahead,
running over the village
bathed in scarlet;
painted red as a fox,
a riding coat.

Already there
far up,

(Poem originally published as part of PoMoSco, a project of the Found Poetry Review, and reproduced here with permission of the poet.)

Want one more example? Cuz we've got it. Click here to see "Star Stuff" by Monica Reardon; it's based on a remembrance of Carl Sagan written by his daughter and published in New York Magazine. 

Now it's your turn: find a text to remix. It could be a couple pages out of a novel, a newspaper article, the directions and ingredients on the frozen pizza box--there's no limit to your choices. We recommend something with more words rather than fewer words, though, just so you have enough of those little words (from, by, he, they, can, have, had, will) that tie the exciting words together. Make a list of the words that catch your eye, and see how you can rearrange them to tell a new story or paint a new image. Send us what you come up with, and don't forget to include a note about the text you worked from. As ever, we're at

Our buttons for the Poem-A-Thon are sitting on the kitchen counter as you read. Come join us on Sunday from 3-5 at the East End Book Exchange to write poems, read poems, and have poems written for you. All proceeds from the event will go to Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.