Recently I bought a book which was titled ‘The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump’ which was, according to the book cover, ‘created by Rob Sears.’ According to the inside flap, Rob Sears lives in Great Britain and has written fiction and comedy. Not poetry, evidently.
Creating poems from other people’s words is called found poetry. I haven’t done much pure found poetry, but I have mixed in a lot of found words and phrases from various sources into my poems.
Political found poetry seems to be a form of political mockery mostly. There was a ‘poet’ who created found poetry from the words of Donald Rumsfeld. He won a court case which found his work was his own creation and not just ripping off Donald Rumsfeld’s words.
One good thing Rob Sears did was document the source of every line from the utterances of Donald Trump. Sadly, most of these sources were tweets. Usually very well publicised tweets. One alleged haiku had 4 different sources. Four sources for a three lined poem? Sears adds TITLES to his ‘haiku’, and they also have their own sources.
His sources for lines in each individual found poem can be decades apart and on differing topics. This bothers me. He is basically asserting that Trump said certain things about one topic while he actually said them about another. If you are going that route, you might as well take words from various subjects one at a time and you can make your subject say any stupid thing you like. But then it isn’t truly a found poem. It’s a concocted poem which falsely represents your subject-person.
Ethical rule: no matter how much a found poet may dislike his subject, the poet must not intentionally misrepresent that subject’s real stated viewpoints and ideas. You cannot turn Donald Trump into a hard-core anti-semite, for example, because of all the Jewish relatives he has. You cannot turn Elizabeth Warren into someone who hates American Indians, because she claims to be one.
Another ethical rule: Write found political poems about the leaders of your own country, if you please. It’s kind of dirty pool if you write about a foreign leader when you don’t fully understand both sides of the political equation in that country. It’s also just cruel to the citizens of your target nation. Making fun of their politics is another way to make fun of THEM. Mocking people for coming from a different nation than yours is a form of prejudice. You have the freedom of speech to utter prejudiced thoughts— but I have the freedom not to read them.
I am writing some political found poems myself lately— most of them derived from the speeches of Nancy Pelosi. I disagree with Miss Pelosi on many issues, and I’m appalled she considers herself Catholic. But I don’t feel that I can, as a Christian, hate her or any of her supporters. When I write a poem based on her speeches I take 1 speech, and I don’t introduce any opinions of my own intentionally. I’m trying to write about what she really says, not what I think she should have said.
Here is a short poem, called a Collom or Collom lune, taken from a Nancy Pelosi speech. It is from a gun control speech. I don’t agree with her speech. But I don’t wish to distort anything she says, either. (Colloms really shouldn’t have titles, so I just repeat the first line. I use the titles for filing purposes, mainly. I handle haiku the same way.)
Commonsense Gun Violence
Commonsense gun violence
Legislation – all over the country
Every single day
Nancy Pelosi speech
You can look up the full text of the speech on Pelosi’s official web page.