My favorite discovery was his story/poem, "Distant Rain," which he says was done in "pencil, acrylic, oil & paper collage, using other people’s handwriting." In it, abandoned words gather, form a semi-cognizant mass, and then rain from the sky, transforming the world below. If that's not a description of the poetry-making process, I don't know what is.
The poem begins like this:
Have you ever wondered
what happens to all the poems
the poems they never
let anyone else read?
and continues later with...
naturally many poems
are immediately destroyed
occasionally they are folded
into little squares
and wedged under the corner of
an unstable piece of furniture
The poem then rolls on over six pages (two of them wordless) before concluding with:
No one will be able to explain the
strange feeling of weightlessness
or the private smile
after the street sweepers
have come and gone.
But what I'm leaving out (and you'll have to see the book to appreciate) is how these words are placed on the page. The poem itself is a collage of word scraps, which makes the whole thing read like you're piecing it together in the aftermath of a paper storm.
Here's the last page of the poem.
Spread from Tales From Outer Suburbia © 2008 by Shaun Tan. Published by Arthur A. Levine Books. Posted with permission of illustrator. All rights reserved.
Shaun Tan also says on his site:
"This idea began when I was thinking about Jewish stories of the Golem, an artificial being made of clay that could be animated by spoken or written words (‘golem’ in Hebrew means ‘shapeless mass’, also ‘unformed’ or ‘imperfect’). This lead to the idea of a being made out of words – particularly those written on scraps of paper, thrown away or lost. Eventually the story evolved into something a little like the narrative of a wildlife-documentary, and the ‘paper being’ simply became a large ball with some kind of vague consciousness."
(More thoughts from him are here. Click on the book and then the comments link.)