Found Poetry

This Poetical Life – A Remembrance for Dr. Amir D. Aczel

On November 28, 2015 Dr. Amir D. Aczel, acclaimed mathematician and bestselling author of more than a dozen books on science and math, passed away unexpectedly. I have read two of his books, Why Science Does Not Disprove God and Finding Zero, and I would heartily recommend both books.  Dr. Aczel had a very rare skill: he had the ability to translate complex and abstract scientific ideas into engaging and accessible stories for a general audience. The world needs scientists like Dr. Aczel – willing and able to make science available to everyone – more than ever.

Not only that, but Dr. Aczel was a kind and thoughtful person who took the time to personally respond to fans and readers. And this is something I know firsthand. Over a year ago, only a few short months into my blogging adventure here on Illustrated Poetry, I wrote my first post about “found poetry.” In particular I was discussing the definition that had been advanced by the poet Ronald Gross: ‘”Found Poetry”  typically preserves the words as they originally appear, but may rearrange them into lines to “bring out their poetic quality.”‘ I was in the middle of reading Why Science Does Not Disprove God by Dr. Aczeland one passage in the book had struck me as found poetry and so I included this rearrangement and pairing of his words with one of my photographs:


Later that day, Dr. Aczel himself wrote a comment thanking me! I was so surprised and thrilled – I called my partner over to the computer and was shouting “Look, look, I can’t believe it – LOOK!” I was truly touched that he not only took the time to read that post on my tiny little blog floating out there in the vast ocean of the internet, but he also paused to write a kind note. It was incredibly encouraging and I have never forgotten it. Thank you again, Dr. Aczel. Feel free to head over here to read the full original post, “This Poetical Life.”



Found Poetry Thursday – Another to the Maids – Herrick

IMG_1098Another poem found in the forest of the scraps box! You can see last week’s found treasure here. This time it was just a scrap of paper with no illustration – so I created one. Robert Herrick (1591-1674) published just a single massive volume of poetry (1,402 poems!) in his lifetime and achieved little recognition. He was rediscovered in the 20th century and is best known today for the poem that most of us read in school at some point – “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.” But he wrote many even shorter gems as well – this one likely references a superstition surrounding the tending of Christmas fires or yule logs, but the microbiologist in me approves of the hand washing theme! Collage and composition by me.

Found Poetry – The Measure of Success

IMG_0713I was leafing through an old art magazine when I came across a little blurb about Georges Seurat (1859 – 1891) written by Edwin Seaver for some sort of art reproductions club. The first few lines struck me as some found poetry – that is, poetry made by rearranging another text to bring out the poetic qualities of it. The words are by Mr. Seaver, the collage and composition are by me. I have given it a new title, though – “The Measure of Success.” Enjoy and may you find some poetry today too! (A few other found poem posts, if you are curious – click here, here, or here!)

The words to the poem:

Studious, solitary, painstaking

Georges Seurat died at the age of thirty-one,

overworked and largely unacknowledged.

His professional life did not last

much longer than seven years,

and in that time he

sold two pictures.

Thus, as someone has pointed out,

he was twice

as successful commercially

as Van Gogh,

who sold only


– Edwin Seaver

arranged by Marcy Erb


Illustrated Thursday – Tree Tomato by Rick Zuzow


It’s been far too long since I featured something from my friend, Mr. Rick Zuzow – his words and photograph were featured here once before. I drew this picture inspired by a photograph Rick took of a gorgeous bright red tree tomato (also known as a tamarillo), sliced in half on a simple white plate, accompanied by these words. To me, it was a zen still life and a found poem. Tree tomatoes are not well known in the U.S., but are eaten more commonly in South America (where the plant is thought to originate). My favorite random fact about them is that they were used as a culinary substitute for scarce tropical fruits during World War II in New Zealand. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me, words and original photograph by Rick Zuzow.