I don’t normally post any of my poetry on my blog (this is why), but this summer I started trying my hand at blackout poetry just as a creative exercise. Seeing as how these are exercises I never really intend to try publishing, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites on here from time to time. At least for now I’m only using books I’ve never read, because I don’t want knowledge of the characters and plot to influence the poems I make. Maybe someday I’ll do a project with a book I’ve read instead.
Blackout poetry is when you take something already written – a page out of a book, a magazine or newspaper article, a sale ad, anything! – and black out all but a few chosen words and phrases to create a poem. You’re limited by the words the previous author had already chosen, and the order in which they were written, but other than that it’s up to you!
Some people get really fancy with stamps, illustrations, and colors, (you can Google some pretty incredible examples) but for now I’m sticking to the simple and straightforward, armed with only a Sharpie and the page.
This page is from Hugh C. Rae’s book “The Traveling Soul”.
I last mentioned where I was at in writing my first poetry collection about five months ago with this post. I’m still very much in the early stages. Where do the early stages end, anyway? I figure there will just come a point when I look around me and go, “Yeah, I’m in this one deep.” I’m not quite there yet.
(I’m laughing at the me that once said “I’ll make sure to spend at least a year on this so as not to rush it.” Oh you sweet, summer child.)
I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, which means not as much writing. After trying to juggle both for several years and failing at getting much read OR written I finally figured out that the best possible thing I can do is work hard on writing for a month or two, then switch to spending all that time on reading for a month or two. It keeps me from getting burned out on the blank page, it helps refill my brain when I’m starting to feel emptied of ideas, and it means that I get to more thoroughly enjoy reading and writing when not doing them together at the same rate. This is, at least, the system that works best for me. (For now.)
The time I have given to writing this summer has been productive… technically. Meaning I know it has been productive. I have the notes and pages that tell me this. But when it comes to finished content? Very, very little.
Nothing wants to wrap up for me. There’s a particular piece I’ve been working at rather hard that I finished back in July. Sort of. It reads in finished style, but the rhyme and meter is all wrong for not only what is in my head but also how the collection has begun to develop. It doesn’t fit. So I put it away for 2 months, let my mind clear some, and have been at it again this last week only to find Continue reading
What is a book, why do we read them, and why are they written? “A Book is a Book” written by Jenny Bornholdt and illustrated by Sarah Wilkins is an almost pocket-sized book addressing these questions. Their answers are simple and at times humorous, but always have a lovely sense of truth to them.
The page I’ve listed below is one of my favorites. It’s a favorite for many reasons. I quite like short books when I don’t have a lot of time to read. I totally understand writing a short book because have you ever tried writing a book? Even the short ones take a lot of time to do it well! And I also like this page because as someone who deals with autoimmune fatigue with varying frequency… sometimes it’s really hard to write. Whether it’s because I can’t stay awake, I can’t fight through the brain fog to make sense of words, or because the muscles in my hands or wrists are not up to handling a keyboard or pen, sometimes writing is hard in ways that have nothing to do with creating stories.
(You can follow me on instagram now if you’d like! instagram.com/lissa.clouser)
It’s hard to describe this book in much detail since it is already so short, so I recommend instead that you find a copy at your local bookstore or at the library and give it a read! If you like books of any kind in any way, this one should be right up your alley.
*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!