Friday, April 27, 2018

Blackout Poetry, Blackout Scripture

Yesterday was Poem in Your Pocket Day.  I knew that I would hand out poems on campus.  I knew that we would have poetry themed food.  I wanted to do something to encourage the actual writing of poems, but I wasn't sure exactly what.

As I was looking at Facebook one last time, I came across Karen Weyant's  posting of a Blackout Poetry Workshop at her school, Jamestown Community College.  I thought it looked like something we could do.

So, I grabbed some art supplies and headed to school.  I had photocopied pages from 3 books:  Natalie Angier's The Canon, Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Craig Child's Apocalyptic Planet. I knew that those books had evocative language and interesting words.  I didn't overthink the choosing--I just opened up the books and copied what was there.

I was intrigued by people's approaches to blackout poetry.  Some people read the text.  Some, like me, just chose words that sounded interesting and circled them.  Some of us blocked the other words with color:

I was surprised by the poems that emerged.  Here's mine, in picture (process note:  I chose the words, drew blocks around them, and then did the swirling color; as I did the swirling color, the words started to get lost, so I came back and did more blocking):

and written out:

own plots
archeological rubble
time in the ground
live in a cash economy
bone scraping
hillocks of bones
disappeared among the ruins

I should go back to the original text to see how the two interact.

This morning, as I was writing up the process, I wondered about other texts that might be an interesting experiment.  I thought about the Bible.

At some point, I'll try this approach with scripture.  My group at church would be receptive.  It will be interesting to see if this kind of project has us interact with sacred texts in a different way.  I'll try it and report back.

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