Trying My Hand At Blackout Poetry

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-6-03-09-pm

Last week, Team #MedXLit took on two different mediums of literacy that push back at against what defines writing: #blackoutpoetry and #25wordstory(ies)! While I participated in the #25wordstory portion of class (check out some quick reflections on Twitter!), I didn’t get a chance to try out the #blackoutpoetry that had half the class giggling, sighing, or combining the two in what was clearly an engaging activity!

So I thought I’d give it a go. First, a quick explanation: Blackout Poetry takes a text that has already been authored, be it newsprint, a novel, or even another poem, and plays with the words to create new meaning. Blackout poets take a sharpie to the text and methodically rearrange and remove words to provide a completely new expression from the published work, giving both author and reader liberty to interpret as s/he pleases. For a collection of blackout poetry curated by author Austin Kleon, who posits we should “steal like an artist,” check out this Tumblr page!

From observing my peers who created #blackoutpoetry, I noticed that multiple participants flipped back and forth between exasperation and discovery – but for the entirety of their “maker time,” every participant was straight. up. engaged. They were WAY into this #blackoutpoetry! Taking permanent marker to another author’s work is quite taboo – but out of this previous content, a host of new ideas emerged. The process was noted as bringing out such literacy tools as theme, personification, imagery, metaphor – all in simply paring down a newspaper article. As in the #25wordstory, the poetry was short, giving the reader far more creative agency in interpreting the new piece. So I gave it a couple tries:

img_9809

The prosperity of hope symbolized another world. Thrive here. Light the majestic orbs, plant the tree.”

IMG_9810.JPG

“Ladies, you are not alone. After all, we are in this together. This is indicative of a future.”

IMG_9811.JPG

“They’re open now. It’s no longer a battle. Hope in whatever they’re going through – symbolism, tales – stay out of that echo chamber.”

I’ll be forthcoming about these poems – they are all influenced by the events of this week’s election. After months and months of complete information overload due to the campaigns, I spent the days after the election somewhat lost in trying to express and debrief.  I found it almost cathartic, if not wholly appropriate, to take newsprint and transform it into an expression of my experience with the 2016 elections and their results – as well as to the future influenced by them.

The value of the stories mattered prior to the election in that they gave me perspective and fed the insatiable appetite I had for signs, clues, indicators to the construct of our national character and to the future work we had ahead of us. Now, the stories post-election allowed an outlet for me to distill my thoughts into a brief expression of larger concepts – to turn down the fire hydrant of input and grant a trickle of output. It also shifted my perspective on newsprint – it felt, what is the word, powerful?  To take a published piece with an intended effect and to create from it personal meaning was at the same time liberating and challenging. Either way, I certainly felt the engagement that my peers felt as they tried their hand at #blackoutpoetry! I certainly hope you give your students – and yourself – a chance to try this out.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s