VisLit#1 Scavengers, Sex & Boxes


Joseph Cornell’s boxes are on display in London right now (hurrah!) But we shan’t be going to see them (boo!) as is part of the ethos of the courses I run at the Mary Ward Centre that we only visit free stuff.

So, I urge you to pay Joseph a visit while he’s in town, at the Royal Academy, and meanwhile, as collage works equally well for visual artists and writers, we can take inspiration from his assemblages as the perfect way to kick off this visually literate course.


“Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems. A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.”

“The word collage comes from the French verb coller and refers literally to “pasting, sticking, or gluing,” as in the application of wallpaper.  In French, collage is also idiomatic for an “illicit” sexual union, two unrelated “items,” being pasted or stuck together.  This undertone of illicitness is actually germane to the meaning of the word, for collage does not just apply to any paste-up.” Marjorie Perloff

(from ‘Training the Poem’, Jacqueline Saphra’s poetry course at the Poetry School.)

Prompts –

Warm up for at least 4 participants:

Borrowing & Collaborating: Expressing yourself in Words and images.

In pairs – take a picture postcard and, without your partner seeing it, audiodescribe it, so that your partner is able to draw it from your description.

Swap roles using a fresh picture.

Swap your own drawn pictures with a second pair.

Give a caption or a title to this new drawing.

Discuss – Look at the original artwork, the audiodescribed interpretation, and the caption: What, if anything, surprises you?

Freewrite using these sentences –

Dream is a second life

Was she happy?

Everything in his world is a secret

Blank slates on which others draw their desires

Would you mind if I asked you…

Pull out a sentence from the freewrite that you are willing to ‘donate’ to a communal pot.

Go to the Institute of Sexology 


On your way there, have a scavenger hunt: collect things: take pictures and notes (street signage, overheard conversation…) collect anything you find interesting, man made or natural.

Return to Mary Ward via Marchmont Street. Spend no more than 50 pence on something you would like to include.

Use your notes and findings from the warm up and from your outing to create a collage (words and images) in a box (provided)

Lena's box

Lena’s box

Mary's box

Mary’s box

Leslie''s box

Leslie”s box

Rocio's box

Rocio’s box

detail from Phyllis' box

detail from Phyllis’ box

detail from Phyllis' box

detail from Phyllis’ box

Jackey's box

Jackey’s box

Deatil from Ray's box

Deatil from Ray’s box


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s