Thanks to Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit for hosting the National Poetry Month blog tour!
A week or so before spring break, one of the professors from the English Department dropped by my office to see if the Writing Center could organize a poetry reading or some sort of event for National Poetry Month. Now, I have to admit, poetry readings aren’t my cup of tea – I’d prefer to read poetry on my own – and I was facing a pretty apathetic college crowd (historically, our university is majority commuter, so student involvement is tough). Instead of a poetry reading, I decided to approach NaPoMo 2013 a little differently and host a Blackout Poetry Party. If you haven’t seen any blackout poetry, make sure to check out Austin Kleon’s website. I’ve been a huge fan since a student introduced me to this style of poetry several years back when she turned in a version for my lesson onÂ The Book Thief.Â
We created a flyer (which lots of students thought was a ransom note, but it got them talking!). The tutors helped make bookmarks in our down time to use as party favors, and our admin associate busily cut out triangles for our book page bunting. One tutor used an abundance of glue sticks to decoupage book pages for the center’s signs. We were decked out and actually had a decent turnout of faculty and students.
After a very brief introduction, we got down to business. I walked around taking photographs (iPhone quality, sorry) and loved hearing what students had to say: “I can’t even spell, but this I can do!” “Ooh, that one looks awesome.”
Then we shared our poems and talked about the artistic process, one professor saying you’re so limited by the words on the page, but at the same time, the nature of this style provides a freedom in that you aren’t coming up with the words, you’re just endowing them with different meaning. The students who came tended to like equally the more random poems, some of them humorous, as well as the more traditionally poetic verses.
All in all, we had a great time, and we ended up with some fantastic poetry – most of the more visually interesting ones went with the reporter who is going to write up our event for the student art magazine. I can’t wait to get them back, as several were really cool, and I wish I had had the forethought to photograph them.
If you are interested in hosting an event for National Poetry Month for a large or small group, I’d definitely recommend a Blackout Poetry Party. It’s interactive, low pressure, and really fun.
This was my result for the night. I’ve done a handful now and like going into the page blind, not knowing what words are on the page. Then I just begin with a word or phrase that strikes me and challenge myself to go from there. I was pleased with the result, especially as I’ve read a lot of WWI fiction lately, and this seemed to be appropriate.
Do you enjoy reading nonstandard poetry? Or writing it? I have to confess, I love the mixture of visual and text. It’s a combination that works for me in art as well. Happy National Poetry Month!