Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Found poems and beech trees

click photo to enlarge
The idea of the "found" poem is intriguing. We are used to reading poetry where meaning has been forged over time, worked, re-worked, and built with tears, anguish and quiet desperation. So the idea that one can simply find a piece of writing, composed for a particular purpose, that unwittingly offers the poetic experience seems, at first glance, quite unlikely.

In his poetry workshops published in The Guardian newspaper earlier this year David Morley looks at the found poetry "lying asleep" in field guides and the prose of natural history. He discusses how it can be shaped so it "escapes its origin and finds a fresh tone." The examples he shows often don't depart at all from the words of the original, though in others the finder-poets add their own contributions. The example below is from the article quoted, and is offered to complement today's photograph of the beautiful autumn beech trees at the edge of Pedder's Wood, near Grize Dale, in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire.

Beech by Peter R White
Wilkinson, John and Mitchell, Alan (1978)
A Handguide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe
Treasure Press, London

Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
cannot make roots
in saturated soils but
drive them through
dry layers to
Hence although
a thirsty tree it is
not found in wet
hollows nor on clay soils.
Male flowers are little
balls of stamens
on slender stalks.
Female flowers are green
with white filaments and
are on
short stout stalks.

live for barely 250 years
then die
to pieces

photograph & (some) text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (36mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8.
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On