National Poetry Month: How voiceover websites helped me write poetry

NPM-2005-WhiteI’m not usually a big fan of “found poetry.” That is, poetry created by words and lines lifted from other sources – books, magazines, advertisements. I feel like the poet needs to hunt for the message through others’ words, rather than writing the poet’s own message through his/her own words.

However, I’ve learned that the more I attempt to write found poetry, the more I enjoy the hunt!

The other day, I was thinking about what to write for today’s blog post. Since this is National Poetry Month, I knew I wanted to write about poetry (all my posts this month deal with poetry in one form or another) but I wasn’t sure what angle to take. I had been feeling bad about not being able to write as much as I’d like due to my recuperation from ACL surgery – being on crutches, I’m a lot slower at taking care of the kids than I used to be – and I also felt a little guilty for not writing more about voiceover work, as I often do.

Then it occurred to me:  do both!

How to find “found poetry”

I decided I would write a found poem using material I culled from voiceover websites. Now, to those of you who don’t write poetry, that may seem like a rather odd idea. But writers know good material and inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime…and sure enough, it wasn’t long before I realized I might be onto something.

After simply Googling “voiceover,” I started searching through the first couple of pages of results, opening up webpages and copying sections of text I thought could be potentially useful.

I read, I searched, I compiled.

Eventually, I had a list of lines and phrases that seemed to have some common associations, beyond the obvious ‘voiceover’ theme; associations with which all of us as humans might be able to identify.

My definition of good found poetry

I think one of the reasons I don’t often like found poetry is because it only makes sense, or can only be fully appreciated, if the reader knows it’s found poetry. In other words, the lines of a found poem might not be as strong as if they been originally written from the mind of the poet.

With found poetry, the poet is at the mercy of the lines he/she uses – and often I wonder if the found poems I come across would be able to stand on their own merits, had they not been “found.” Maybe this is crazy talk, but in my mind, found poetry should read just as smoothly, as intelligently, and as originally as any other poetry.

Which brings me to my found poem. Is it as smooth, intelligent, or original as something I would have crafted out of thin air? I don’t know – I suppose that’s for you to decide. But I think I was able to capture something beyond a repetition of lines, beyond an amalgam of disparate thoughts, and certainly beyond voiceover.

But like I said….I’ll let you be the judge of that.


Expressing unspoken thoughts
and burning desire,
a voice that is not part of the narrative
pauses for a breath;
the essential commands
extreme situations
still seem confusing.
Don’t get discouraged.
Slow down,
evaluate your work,
and take your time
through talent,
steely focus,
and faith
to change the world.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Not that you need to know this, but just as background information, each line of this poem is a different line from the text of one of the websites I visited:,,,,,, and

Why not try it yourself? Look through a magazine and pull lines from the articles or advertisements. Scan your library and see if the titles of the books lend themselves to a few poetic lines (some folks refer to this as “book spine poetry’).

Poetry is, after all, all around us – and is waiting to be found!


2014kidlit_progpoemNational Poetry Month is keeping me extra-busy! Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem is continuing full-steam ahead…a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem!

Last week, I added my line and today the poem heads to Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy. You can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life


RhyPiBoMo banner

I’m very happy to be part of Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event this month (Rhyming Picture Book Month). All month, she’s encouraging writers to create rhyming picture books and I’ll be guest blogging on April 26, discussing the benefits of collaboration – so please be sure to join me then!

To see all the posts and learn more, click the calendar below for the daily schedule:
RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated


30Days52-2014-128ltThe day after I guest-blog at Angie’s, I’ll be interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. I interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and I thought it might be nice to check in with him a year later to see how things have been progressing.

You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind.

I’m also honored that Gerald has chosen a poem of mine to publish in May, so I’ll be sure to share that link once it is posted!


Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!


14 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: How voiceover websites helped me write poetry

  1. Interesting ideas about found poetry. I have not been drawn to it, but this year had a grand time doing some spine poem. I think I enjoyed that because I used books whose authors had a similar sensibility to mine (nature-themed poetry collections and picture books.) And you were drawn to “borrowing” from something near and dear to your heart. I like the results!


    1. Thanks, Buffy! I think it helps us both enjoy the process by sticking to source material we are drawn to – you & your authors, me and voiceover. If one is just jumping into random books or magazines blindly without any idea what one is looking for…that can be intimidating!


  2. Hi, Matt – thanks for sharing. Do you know Georgia Heard’s collection of found poems for young readers, The Arrow Finds its Mark? I delved into the form when submitting poems for that anthology and found it immediately addictive. [Students respond well to found poetry as well – I think it can be less intimidating to create something from bits of something than from nothing.]

    It can help to have/develop a “steely focus” – love that phrase!


    1. I recall reading some of the poems from that book, but I don’t think I’ve read it completely. Indeed, I think found poetry probably is very helpful to students to learn how to link thoughts and ideas, and appreciate language, without having to start ‘from nothing,’ as you said.


  3. I’ve felt some of the sentiments you expressed about found poetry–actually most poetry that I file in a folder I label “Random.” It’s fun, feels playful and sometimes I find interesting surprises and make unexpected connections. But I’ve never taken it too seriously.

    Your found poem reads smoothly and is clear. I would never guess it was “found.’


  4. Hi. I am a member of RhyPiBoMo, and hopped over here from your post on Angie’s site. I have never heard of “found” or “book spine poetry.” I think I might give it a try. Thanks for the info.


    1. Well, thank you so much for hopping over here, Janet! I hope RhyPiBoMo is going well for you…and please feel free to contact me if you have questions about writing poetry; I’d be happy to help if I can!


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