Why Do Blackout Poetry in Class?

Somebody messed up. I reserved the lab, my date got deleted or switched or forgotten, and I was left to split the Media Center computers with someone else. I knew it wouldn’t work. I have 32 students in Creative Writing. I knew I’d have to make them split time. Alright, I thought. 45 minutes at the computers, and 45 minutes…. doing….something.

A friend’s instagram gave me the idea of doing a little Blackout Poetry. And here were the results:

Displaying image.jpegDisplaying image.jpegDisplaying image.jpegBlackout

Reasons it worked:

1. It gives students words to start with. It reminds me of Finding Forrester when the recluse author gives his young upstart author a first paragraph to build from. Students are still performing an artistic task by pulling the words they want, but the images and words are also already formed for them.

2. It could be tailored to different themes and ideas. If I had asked students to pull out poems that reflected the themes of Night or the themes of Things Fall Apart, they could have definitely changed the mind set of their chosen poems.

3. The students LOVED it. What I thought of as a “side” activity quickly became the highlight of the day. Students relished making new poems and often did more than a few. Some students requested to take pictures of what they had done. At least ten students read their poems at our Friday Reader’s Theatre. I mean, really, it was wonderful.

Materials Required:

– Two old books that are already ruined or messed up, so that you can feel okay about ripping the pages out of them.

– A lot of sharpies.

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