National Poetry Month

4th April 2012

I have a confession. Though I have favorite poems and poets, I am super resistant when it comes to new poetry. In fact, I haven’t picked up any new poetry in ages. I know! I’m awful. I wrote poetry many moons ago, and I have volumes that I’ll still reference, so I’m certainly not against it. It’s just that I’ve become complacent in seeking out new poems.

But it’s National Poetry Month, and my students actually introduced me to the type of poetry I want to talk about today. A couple of years ago, while I was teaching The Book Thief, my students had an assignment to repurpose a page from a book. One student came in with blackout poetry, where all the words with the exception of a few were blacked out with a marker, leaving the uncovered words to make a poem. It was crazy beautiful, so I thought I’d share some other cool blackout poems with you guys today:

Via Route 10

Via Newspaper Blackout and Austin Kleon

Via Meaningless Magical Tumblr

Via Life’s Ponderful

Via Newspaper Blackout – Ashley Niedzwiecki, 24, Detroit

Isn’t that amazing? I think I might actually give this a try this month. The website Newspaper Blackout also has some great tips for getting started:

  • Use the newspaper.
  • Loosen up.
  • Set a time limit.
  • Some articles won’t inspire you. Move on.
  • Don’t read the article first.
  • Remember that the poem will be read from left to right and top to bottom.

The website also takes submissions in case you really like the results of your efforts. 🙂

So have you seen blackout poetry before? Or do you have a contemporary poet or poem I should take a look at?

 P.S. – Lu at Regular Rumination is very up on her poetry and regularly posts about it, so if poetry is your thing, head on over.

  • Alexa Sienes

    This is such a neat idea. I’m no poet, but I think blackout poetry’s something everybody can try. Thanks for this idea! I think I can celebrate National Poetry Month properly now.

    • Yea! If you do try it, email me. I’d love to see what you come up with. To me, blackout poetry is so accessible partly because it’s so visual.

  • heidenkind

    That looks like a super-fun project. I actually might give it a try! Love the last one especially.

    • I know! There are some really magnificent ones out there, including ones that artfully black out some of the other words. So cool.

  • Nadia

    I am so with you on poetry. I enjoy it, but am not up to date on any of the new poets out there. I stick to my Eliot, cummings, atwood and Lear. Perhaps its time to start looking at some new stuff. This blackout poetry seems like a great place to start. It actually reminds me of found poems – we had to write some of those in a poetry class I took in college. Anyhow, this seems like fun – thanks for sharing! Cheers!

    • Nadia – glad I could give you a little nudge. I tend to like poetry that pushes the envelope a bit rather than something more straightforward. Hope you find something you like!

  • I haven’t heard of blackout poetry before it looks awesome. I’m like you, I am hesitant of new poetry. Last year I really got into slam poetry though. On youtube, you should look up Taylor Mali, he has a couple about teaching. One is a series of letters and another is about how people constantly ask how much money teachers make. I was impressed and he became my hero.

  • I love it I love it I love it.

    • I know! It’s such cool stuff.