Blackout Poetry: A unique way to turn your teen into a poet!

Have you thought about introducing your high schooler to the art of poetry? Believe it or not, this doesn’t need to be a drag or something they dread. In fact, by using different methods, teens will love poetry and at this age, poetry can be a great way to express their feelings and creativity. Teens from all over are obsessed with using various forms of printed material to create their poetry. This method is called Blackout Poetry and it’s all the rage.

With blackout poetry, the words that will be used appear in front of the poet in the form of the printed materials, but it’s up to them to breathe new life and significance into the words. The words will take on a whole new meaning as they work to create their poetry.

Blackout poetry is super cool and you only need three things to get started:

  • Printed material (an old book/magazine/newspaper)
  • Sharpie marker
  • Some vivid imagination

The poet will use various words or phrases from the printed material as segments of their poem. Depending on the type of literature they choose to start with, the finished poems would range from silly and off-the-wall, to dark and mysterious. The haphazardness of it all is what makes it fun and unique!

Where to Begin

The student will start with the mindset that creating their poem will revolve around deconstructing their print piece, then reconstructing the words to create their literary masterpiece.

First, the student should read the full page, just as it is. As they read, they should keep an eye out for one word that stands out to them above the rest. This word is very significant and will be considered their “anchor word.” This word should stand out to them because it is powerful, important, and something that speaks to them. Their anchor word should be chosen wisely because it helps guide their imagination and helps shape their work. This word should allow them to spout off different ideas, themes, and topics for their poem. If they are unable to do that, back to the drawing board it is!

With that anchor word in mind, it’s time to reread the page, from top to bottom. As they go, they should circle the words that are related to the anchor word or any words/phrases that speak deeply to them. They will read words that jog an idea or inspire them in other ways – these are the keywords they should circle.

Next, get a separate piece of paper and write down all of the words that were circled in order that they appear in the book or magazine. It’s important to keep them in order and write them as they are written, working top to bottom and left to right. As to not confuse the reader, the completed poem will need to be written in this order.

On another piece of paper, start using some of the words you selected (keeping them in order) to construct the poem. Feel free to remove parts of the word as it might help with the flow of your poem. For example, -ing, -s, -ed endings can easily be removed if it makes the word work better within the poem. As the author of the poem, they may need to try writing several different poems before they find the one that resonates with them and sounds perfect. Often times, they need to revisit the page and see if they missed any words that could be used to help their poem come together. The word needed to complete their poem is usually hiding in plain sight on the page and they just need to take a moment to go back and find it.

Once the poem is perfected, erase the circles around the words that won’t be used in the poem. Next, think of an illustration that would reflect what your poem is about. Draw that over the remaining words that are on the page, being careful not to draw over any circled words.  Next, take your black marker and draw lines through all of the words that are not circled or included in your illustration. Doing so will blackout everything except for the illustration they drew and the words used in their poem. The final result is your blackout poetry!

Check out the links below for some great inspiration for your poetry. It’s really amazing how creative and imaginative some students are!

How did it turn out? Did your teen enjoy creating poetry in this cool, unique way? What was their inspiration? We’d love to see what they came up with! Be sure to take a picture of their finished piece and upload it to our Facebook page so we can share all of the wonderful poetic masterpieces!

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