"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Found Blackout Poetry

I have worked with blackout poetry with my students on numerous occasions. It is a tough form of poetry to create. It requires patience and a willingness to open one's mind.

I am quite happy with my approach this year and I can already see differences from the past.  I started by talking about found poetry and sharing One Boy Told Me by Naomi Shihab Nye. 
They love this poem. The students and I then talked about finding poetry in the world around us - at lunch, at recess, in the classroom, in an airport, on a cereal box. It was time to show them more examples. I pulled out The Arrow Finds Its Mark A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgia Heard. 
I shared a few found poems:

Found by Janet Wong
on a box of Oxiclean

Pep Talk
Keep Cool
See a brighter solution.
Maintain freshness.
Boost your power!
Found by Bob Raczka
from titles of Van Gogh paintings

Places I'd Love to Van Gogh Someday
The Yellow House
The Red Vineyard

Beach with Figures and Sea with a Ship
Village Street and Stairs with Figures

Lane with Poplar Trees
Road with Cypress and Star

Field with Poppies
Orchard with Blossoming Plum Trees

Park with a Couple and a Blue Fir Tree
Wheat  Field with Crows

The Dance Hall at Arles
Café Terrace at Night

I explained that they were going to find poetry on the page of a book. Using a page from Harry Potter, I modeled how to read through a page at least three times, circling words that stand out as noticing themes or ideas. I showed them some images of found blackout poetry to inspire them:
When I first tried this three years ago, I ripped pages out of books and handed them to students. (These were books that had been repaired one too many times and had been weeded.) The students were aghast watching me tear the pages from the book. On future occasions, I separated the pages in advance and put them in baskets. With my fourth graders this week, I offered both: pages already torn from book and books with pages to tear. I was interested to hear from many students that it was too difficult to tear the page from a book they loved. Good news for those of us who love the printed word. I think the sacredness of story and the value of the book will never disappear. (I do always explain to children that the books have been repaired as often as possible and that this is a beautiful way to celebrate the written word.)

This is a two week project. The students will be finishing up their found blackout poems after vacation. I can't wait. Look what they have found thus far!

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