Blackout Poetry


I really am sorry

So I came home

screwed up

realized I

don’t need to leave.

I still need more training actively seeking (practicing?) joy.

But sometimes, joy sneaks up on you, and isn’t that fun!

We have a fantastic library in town. Not only did they remain open for curbside service through the pandemic, they also started offering FREE activity bags–to ADULTS! You know I’ve been signing up for those! Thanks to these nifty kits, I’ve tried my hand at zentangle, tested my knowledge of Beatles trivia against my 20-year-old son’s (I failed miserably!), and I made a blackout poem.

To make a blackout poem, you take a text from a book, newspaper, magazine and blackout words to create your own poem. The blacking out can be done in a variety of ways. You can simply mark over words with a marker or you can create an image which highlights certain words.

The library kit contained book pages, 2 black Sharpies, a page of instructions with tips and examples, and a entry form inviting us to enter our creations in a blackout poetry contest. I gave it a try.

I took one of the book pages and scanned it, looking for. . .well, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for! It was my first time doing this. First I looked for words that jumped out at me. Beautiful words. Then I looked for patterns, messages. As the words swam in front of me (similar to the 3D pictures in those Magic Eye books from the 90s), I found I was looking for ways to make them say what I wanted to say.

I enjoyed the process. I was able to at the same time focus on the task in front of me and also get lost in it. It was relaxing and required just enough concentration and creativity to give my mind a mini-vacation.

I circled the words I wanted to keep with a pencil. Then I decided on an image I could draw (with my limited artistic ability) that would compliment the new poem I was creating. I consulted my artist-in-residence (the 20-year-old who also possesses more knowledge of the Beatles than his grandparents), and then got to work with the Sharpie. (The above poem was the result.) I submitted it to the contest.

And I won!

A while after the contest closed, I got a call from one of the librarians telling me I had won the contest. I hope she can still hear out of that ear because I think my voice was very loud and very high-pitched when I responded, “I DID?” Not just was I not expecting it, I was also having a crummy day. Well, actually, an extremely challenging month.

And then the phone rang.

And it was happy news.

I drove myself right up to that wonderful library and retrieved my poem and my prize.

The takeaway here? Take a chance on something new and fun. Take a chance on yourself.

And PLEASE reach out and grab joy whenever you can. I’m convinced, every day presents an opportunity to do just that. We have to be open to it.

(To view the flipbook and see all the entries for this contest, as well as the judge’s comments, click here and “flip” through the pages.)


About Amy Nicholson

A busy wife and mother pausing to ponder the beauty and complexity of life and share it with words.
This entry was posted in blackout poetry, joy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blackout Poetry

  1. Catherine V says:

    This is one of my most favorite posts you have shared! What an incredible source of creativity! Can you give a workshop on this? Congratulations on your win!


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