Poetry and Paper Magic with Found Text – Guest Poetry Blog #24 – Introducing the Latest Contributor, American Artist, Poet and Freelance Writer , J. I. Kleinberg – Part One of Two

American artist, poet, and freelance writer J. I. Kleinberg.

From here

the days will fatten, sipping seconds of light
through the chilly straw of winter to brighten
and brighten among the blue-snowed crags.

Soil will sweeten toward tenderness, simple
cravings, as your mouth hungers for the taste
of peaches. Air not yet languid but eager

will reel, adolescent, all shoulders and elbows,
teenage air, tumescent. And the plum tree, bride,
slippers slopped with mud, will shimmy

her gown to lure her flighty groom, the bees,
as tulips and peonies foam with color and you
gulp new light, your mouth all round with kisses.

J. I. Kleinberg from Solstice: Light & Dark of the Salish Sea, Chuckanut Sandstone Press, 2021


Such a pleasure to introduce J.I. (Judy) Kleinberg before she introduces herself (below) and her richly textured (pun intended) journey to poetry. Part Two of her guest poetry blog series will feature American poet and artist Joanna Thomas. I met Judy first at a poetry retreat led by the celebrated Canadian poet and teacher Patrick Lane. She was there with her partner, the poet Luther Allen, whose first guest poetry blog post was posted a few weeks ago. A wonderful literary couple.

I can’t remember if I knew of Judy before that retreat. But, no matter, her passion for poetry and her poetic footprint is large! Since 2010 she posts two poetry blogs pretty well every day. Truly!  The Poetry Department, focuses on the Cascadia bioregion with some poetry news or quote. To connect to the blog please click here. I read it everyday. And invariably every week I find something of interest that was previously unknown to me. An invaluable resource for poets or fans of poetry. Chocolate is a verb is her  personal blog featuring her life and poems and can be found here. A hugely rich resource.

Through The Poetry Department I became aware of the fabulous Poetry Postcard Festival sponsored by Cascadia Poetics Lab and Paul Nelson since 2007.  Judy has participated in this festival since 2011 and became a board member of the Festival last year. And in 2017  she was the co-editor of the Poetry Postcard Anthology 56 Days of August. And to read a wonderful description of how she manages her participation in the festival click here to read her Cascadia Poetics Lab post from last July. Her record keeping of her cards and the ones she recieves is somewhat overwhelming and inspirational!

For the Festival (fifty-six days from early July to the end of August) as many as 500 poets from around the world write thirty-one postcards each and receive thirty-one poems back from the members of their postcard group. I have been a partipant in the festival now for a number of years and am a hardcore fan! Sending out my handmade cards with my poems and receiving poems and cards back is one of the highlights of my year. Registration for the 2024 Festival  is open!

With Luther Allen, Judy co-produces the SpeakEasy poetry reading series out of Bellingham, WA., and co-edited the anthology Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington. For more literary bio details, and there are more, please see below.

It is with deep pleasure I now hand this blog post back to Judy. Welcome, Judy.


Throughout my childhood, my parents’ friends would ask me, “Are you going to be an artist, like your mother?” Too shy to answer, I would shrug my shoulders as, inside, I was screaming, “No! No! No!” But I was barely into my second year of college — major: sociology, goal: save the world — when art began to exert its magnetic pull. By my third year, I had shrugged off sociology, transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, and plunged into the world of textiles.

That took me to Seattle, where I crocheted my way into teaching, commissions, art fairs, and exhibits, including the Seattle Art Museum. When I moved back to Los Angeles some years later, visual art gave way to the world of business. I became director of marketing for a huge California real estate company, and when they downsized me after 14 years, I went out on my own as a freelance copywriter. Writing had been the thread connecting all of my activities from grade school onward.

In 2005, I packed up my freelance business and returned to Cascadia, settling in Bellingham, Washington. There I discovered a community of art- and poetry-minded friends. As I continued to freelance, I also began to take my writing more seriously. Not just something to be squirreled away in a journal or a file, but something to be crafted, reworked, and shared.

While I no longer did much with fiber, collage satisfied my need for visual expression. I dragged home magazines from the local library share bins and browsed for the colors and textures I’d assemble into card-size collages. Though I wasn’t paying much attention to the content of the articles, I noticed that there were places where text “piled up” to suggest entirely new meaning. These unintentional phrases seemed like a kind of happy magic and I started collecting them and using them to build new poems.

Each contiguous fragment of text (roughly the equivalent of a poetic line) is entirely removed from its original sense and syntax. The text is not altered (except for the occasional deletion of prefixes, suffixes, or punctuation) and includes no attributable phrases. The lines of each collage are, in most cases, sourced from different magazines. The edges are torn, harking back to my long relationship with fiber.

On the left below is an example of some found text (from American Heritage magazine), outlined for illustration purposes only, and its ultimate use in a poem, the river elegiac, which was published in The Journal of Radical Wonder. And below this another poem with found text.

J.I. Kleinberg – to language the land – from Otoliths, Issue 67, page 281

The process evolved as my eye became more skilled at parsing the lines. As with any poetry, some of the found poems work well, some don’t. Unlike other poetry, they don’t get edited: one shot and on to the next. To date I’ve created more than 2700 of them and more than 700 have been published in print and online journals and anthologies worldwide.

Wonderfully, amazingly, two chapbook collections were published in 2023: how to pronounce the wind (Paper View Press) and Desire’s Authority (Ravenna Press Triple Series No. 23). The latter is a series of Emily Dickinson-inspired poems, including this one:

J.I. Kleinberg – in Emily’s garden – from Desire’s Authority, Ravenna Press Triple Series No. 23, page 78

Also in 2023, stunningly, a third chapbook, The Word for Standing Alone in a Field, was published by Bottlecap Press. This a collection of conventional-form poems about a scarecrow.

The two threads of my poetry life — “regular” poems and visual poems — continue side by side. I begin most days working on one of each, but really they’re all found poems, an unordered bonanza of language, light, surprise, emotion, discovery. Just add glue.


The word dangles in front of my eyes
unprompted, a shiny earring: Ornament.

Here again, the thing seen, the decoration
grabs my attention: the feather not the bird;

the cloud not the storm; the sound
not the story. What neuronal misfire

produced this word, ornament, with its heart
a command: name. Is this the work

of our brief tenure, this naming?
To chip away at the mystery, to reveal

the gemstone in the matrix: the light in flight,
the see in beseech, the reluctant yes in goodbyes.

J.I. Kleinberg from Quartet Journal, Vol. 1, No. 3

Guest Poetry Blog Post #24 Part One by J.I. (Judy) Kleinberg, January 2024

More J.I. Kleinberg:

Judy is a three-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her visual poems were featured in a solo exhibit at Peter Miller Books, Seattle, Washington, in May 2022, and displayed at the 2022 Skagit River Poetry Festival  and in The Cutting Edge: Art of Collage in Asheville, North Carolina, in April 2023. In addition to her three 2023 chapbooks, two more are forthcoming in 2024. For other online links to Judy and her work see below:


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