Found: Poem

A common evening activity at our hourse is always bathtime, at least when I’m running it.  (The wife tends to be more of a “turn & burn” type of gal with respect to Kate’s bathtime…)  On my nights, Kate gets unfettered free time to indulge her LIttle Mermaid fantasy, athough when she’s playing with her baby bath doll “Chimbodes”, she sounds more and more like Ursula.  Either way, since my work desk abuts the bathroom, one of the things I like to do is play my usual random music for Kate to have a listen.  Usually this involves such masterpieces as Butterpants (from Shrek 4) or Baby Monkey (Riding Backwards on a Pig) (which, not surprisingly became my 6th graders’ theme song the final two weeks of the school year just past).

This past weekend, however, Katelyn became enamored with this “mash-up” from the 2009 Pixar film, Up, called Upular.  More information can be found here.  Here is a link to the artist involved, Pogo.  Watch for yourself:

Pogo, as he describes his own process, “Video for my track ‘Upular’, composed using chords, bass notes and vocal samples from the Disney Pixar film ‘Up’. The track also features a small number of percussion samples, including an obvious kick drum, crash cymbals and hi-hats.”  I does help, I will admit, that he had an Academy Award-winning soundtrack with which to work his magic upon.

Pogo has done others that I’ve inevitably introduced to Kate, and they’re some I thought she’d enjoy.  But for some reason, she’s quite taken by a tune that has Wilderness Explorer Russell “singing”.  She has asked me to download the song, to go alongside, for instance, more mainstream fare from the soundtrack of Disney’s “Tangled”.

Now, to be honest, the lyrics to this “Upular” aren’t immediately sonically apparent.  But they are drawn from the film’s screenplay.  In essence, it represents a sort of “found poem”, wherein the work of a particular author is reconfigured into a new piece.  Interestingly enough, I was exposed to the concept of found poems while working in the California HIstory-Social Science Project and later in the UCI Writing Project.  

For whatever reason (and with me, there always tends to be…), I finally tapped into the experience that I had in the UCIWP, while struggling to figure out how in the hell I was supposed to teach 3 rotations of English-Language Arts at my school.  I had my students create found poems from literature that they were reading at the time.  I have a number of examples now, that I can use when I revisit the project come this Fall, but where “Upular” comes in is that in addition to my little girl’s affinity for the song, what I like is that it now gives me a teaching tool to use as a way of introducing the assignment to this year’s crop of 6th graders, to go along with what I culled last year.

The idea of found poems, therefore, are not new and unique, but they involve an understanding of the parent text that does force students into comprehension beyond the surface.  In popular culture, they are achieving a certain cachet.  In one instance, Sarah Palin’s recently released e-mails from her time as Governor of Alaska were given this treatment.  Even more striking is how another artist, while not going the poetry treatment, used Barack Obama to create this. 


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