Berl’s Poetry Shop (a found poem)

12 Oct

This is what it is like
to be loved by me
cinema of the present
in the circus of you
cutting time with a knife
making dying illegal.

The woman in this poem,
citizen, unleashed, not nothing.
You must look hard
to see what’s there
I am you this morning
you are me tonight

Anything could happen
in the presence of absence
one sleeps, the other doesn’t
technically, it is not my fault.
The French exit:
thanks and sorry and good luck


This poem is a found poem, composed entirely of titles of poetry chapbooks for sale at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop in DUMBO (Brooklyn, NY). Berl’s is devoted to selling poetry books and chapbooks produced by small press publishers. I visited Berl’s for the first time this past Friday morning. As part of the events of the annual Poets Forum, held in New York by the American Academy of Poets, we were treated to a Brooklyn Poetry Walk led by Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang. Berl’s was the first stop on the tour, which took us to the waterfront, where we read Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, and to Cave Canum where we heard two readings by some excellent and up-and-coming young poets.

I love creating found poems, and book title poems in particular. Titles are very important, and authors spend a lot of time choosing the titles of their books, so I think it’s neat to find interesting titles and weave them together. As I was surrounded by hundreds of poetry chapbooks at Berl’s , I couldn’t help but think that of all book titles, poetry book titles are probably the ones with the most thought put into crafting them.

To all the poets whose titles I used in this poem: thanks (and sorry, and good luck).

UPDATE: A few readers wanted to know the process by which I did this. Usually, I pull books off the shelves and then rearrange them to create the poem. I stack them up and take a photo, then write out the poem in a post, like this example from a few years ago: The Lovers (a found poem). However, I felt kind of funny just pulling books off of the shelves at Berl’s, because they are arranged in a certain way and I didn’t want to disturb that. So, this time I just walked around the store and jotted down a list of the titles that jumped out at me. That part of the process is the “found” part. I try to just let the titles hit me so I have a good list of interesting titles to use for the poem. Then, when I actually wrote the poem, I read over my list of titles and just started playing around with combinations and order. I am a bit of purist, so I don’t alter or truncate the titles in any way. Also, I use the whole title, one per line, or in the case of one word titles, I will separate those by comma. There were a number of two line titles that I kept two lines in the poem. Lastly, I did not add any extra words to the poem apart from the titles.

Here is a photo of my journal where I wrote the list of titles that I selected so you can see how I fit them into the poem.



19 Responses to “Berl’s Poetry Shop (a found poem)”

  1. Glenn Buttkus October 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Found poetry, like black-out poems & others using stranger’s words is always intriguing; for we shower them with our line breaks, POV, & perceptions. This one works well. I like the lines (whoever wrote them) /anything can happen/in the presence of absence/.


  2. Sanaa Rizvi October 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm #



  3. Bodhirose October 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Wow, I’m totally impressed. What a cool idea and you arranged all your titles to make a comprehensive poem. Wonderful…and I love your closing line!


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Very impressive, and also says a lot on all the work that goes into choosing a title for a poem or book… It sounds wonderful to visit such a place… poetry is so rare to find in bookstores I think.


    • lupitatucker October 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      It was a great encouragement, Bjorn, to see all the independent poetry projects in that bookstore. I think you would like it very much. I highly recommend stopping by if you are ever in NYC. It is very easy to get to.


  5. Grace October 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    I really appreciate your process as its difficult to connect those titles ~ I specially like:

    Anything could happen
    in the presence of absence
    one sleeps, the other doesn’t


  6. Grace Black October 15, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Oh, I love found poetry and you’ve done something fantastic here.


  7. kanzensakura October 15, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    This is super! Very inspirational as well. I think I like this better than blacked out poetry. I’ve seen people use titles as lines of poetry. But I do think this is the best I have read.


  8. thotpurge October 15, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    Wow… Now I want to visit that store…sounds wonderful, devoted just to poetry books. And provided such inspiration for your poem.


  9. Mary October 15, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    I am very impressed with the way that you created such a clever poem from titles! I never would have guessed it…..if I had not read your explanation below. Masterful accomplishment, I’d say!


  10. Eugene Uttley October 15, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Neat! Now I wanna try it.


  11. katiemiafrederick October 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    SMiLes.. i for one make
    an art of finding poetry
    wherever i go..
    wITh wORds
    or videO wiT
    poeTry comeS
    and goes with mE..
    FinDinG poetry iN
    titles.. anothEr waY
    to be art mY frienD..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. MarinaSofia October 16, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    This must have taken some doing – a very impressive demonstration of art and happenstance…


  13. Prajakta October 16, 2015 at 4:14 am #

    This is such a cool form 🙂 I can imagine the research and digging and weaving you must have done to come with such a great write!


  14. Abhra October 16, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    I have read about this particular form before, but never had the time to try it – very well done. I like the story telling.


  15. the wonder loom October 16, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    I love this. Especially these lines:

    “cutting time with a knife
    making dying illegal”

    “Anything could happen
    in the presence of absence”


  16. Petru J Viljoen October 17, 2015 at 5:02 am #

    Does this form of poetry relate to aleatory poetry – noting fragments of overheard conversations? This poem made wonderful sense!


  17. Victoria C. Slotto October 18, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    I love this…found poetry is so fun to work with. For me, it’s perfect when I’m stuck for ideas.


  18. writersdream9 October 31, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    I enjoy your multi-media approach to your blog. It was a lovely visit!


Please let me know what you think of this poem. I love comments!

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