Blackout Poetry: Poetry Without The Need To Write

There are many kinds of poetry out there, ranging from haiku, limerick, clerihew, and villanelle. All these require you to write on your own, but what about writing a poem made of other people’s words?

Throughout April, The Gladhill Learning Commons,  on the second floor of Linganore Hall, hosted what is known as Blackout Poetry. Interested students anonymously posted their poetry in FCC’s library through Friday, May 5.

How does it work?

Gladhill Learning Commons has a stack of book pages ripped from unused books that belonged either to the staff or from the library itself. From there, the students took a paper they wished to use and “blacked out” the text using a black crayon or marker except for the words and phrases they wish to use. They then kept piecing together the words from the book page until they created an entire poem and could turn their results into the Welcome Desk. Their work is then displayed on a whiteboard in the Learning Commons along with other poetry books, or take their piece back home.

Melanie Adams, learning assistant for FCC, who was responsible for introducing the idea to the library.

“April is National Poetry Month,” she said. “Poetry can be inspiring. Creating a blackout poem can be quick and easy or lengthy and involved. The main idea behind the display was to engage FCC students and provide them with the opportunity to be creative and celebrate the month with us. The display also contains some of our most interesting poetry books from the library collection. These books are available to check out.”

Adams was pleased with the results.

“It has been really nice to see students stop by the display and take a page,” she said. “They can create a poem and take it with them or leave it with us. Currently, we have 12 on display. It has definitely been a success for the library team.”

She had a difficult time choosing her favorite. She said she couldn’t comment on a particular one due to the anonymity of the poems, she assured us that from her readings, they were “very uplifting and positive.”

Adams hopes to have more programs similar to Blackout Poetry.

“This is the first interactive poetry display here in the Gladhill Learning Commons since before the pandemic,” Adams said. “We love engaging students and will continue to create ways for them to connect with our library resources.”

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