Hands-On Found Poetry Workshops

Making Sense of Text & Sharing Stories through Visual Found Poetry

As part of the research project: Amplifying Voices from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety, we have run several arts-based workshops focused on transforming the often lengthy and detail-heavy, publicly available dataset of submissions to Australia’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety into condensed, vivid and powerful poetry. While the Royal Commission submission transcripts detail deeply emotional accounts, the medium through which they are written and shared does not do justice to their stories, or offer the potential for broader community engagement in the same way that poetry does. Although the submissions are in the public domain, the community would need to navigate a complex RC website and review 100s of pages of text to come into contact with their contents. Over the course of the 28 months between 8 October 2018 to 1 March 2021, the RC held 23 public hearings involving 641 witnesses, and received 10,574 public submissions.

Using Collage & Concrete Poetry Techniques to Visualise Poetry

In addition to learning how to create Found Poetry, workshop participants also learn a combination of found poetry techniques including erasure (also known as blackout) and concrete poetry, and also the use of collage – as creative ways to further amplify the meaning of the poems and enhance their capacity to create impact.

Melbourne Design Week 2023
Time to Listen Exhibition at the ‘Design for Change: Designing the world we want’ conference
Artful Advocacy Workshop at Bribie Island Nature Festival: creating poems for impact – exploring narratives of ageing, aged care, nature, and climate change










But what is Found Poetry?

Although poetry is typically free verse, the literary tradition of found poetry creates poems from language not originally intended to be poetry. Excerpt words, phrases, and sentences are taken from a source text, both traditional (e.g., newspaper articles, books, magazines, speeches) and non-traditional (e.g., graffiti, street signs, junk mail, product packaging, court transcripts, tweets), and placed together to create a poem. Poems can also be created from qualitative interview transcripts, in a process variously labelled research poetry, transcript poems, poetic transcription and poetic inquiry (Faulkner, 2007).


The process of creating found poetry involves two deceptively simple steps:

Step 1: Find














Take a non-linear deep dive into the text and search for key words, phrases, and sentences that stand out to you. You can cut out the words, circle, underline, or highlight them, or you can even use a black marker to scratch out the words you don’t like. If you prefer working digitally, you can type out the words into a word document on your computer or phone.

This participant transferred their words to a blank piece of paper and then iteratively developed it, using an illustration to form key themes.
In a workshop focused on the themes of climate change and ageing at the inaugral Bribie Island Nature Festival 2023, a participant used a highlighter to find words from a magazine article to create their poem.
For this poem, a participant used the erasure method to select words, by first drawing a line around the words that stood out to her, and then colouring over (or erasing) all of the others to form a poem, which she later added an image to.

Step 2: Arrange







Arrange and rearrange those words to craft a poem drawing on a range of poetic techniques such as rhythm, rhyme, sound, repetition, metaphor, emotion, imagery, synthesis, alliteration, pitch and tone, and humour.

Unlike traditional lyric poetry, found poetry is created using the existing elements within a given text. While this may seem limiting, you can still extract poetic elements and use poetic tropes to create a moving and impactful piece.

The detailed way in which you go about writing the poem is entirely up to you. Remember this – less, in poetry, is more, and iterate, iterate, iterate.






Project Team

Professor Evonne Miller – Director of the QUT Design Lab

Dr Sarah Johnstone – Research Member of QUT Design Lab

Dr Abbe Winter – Research Member of QUT Design Lab


Click the image below to download a zine we created about Found Poetry. Print as an A5 booklet.