Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrating Blackout Poetry with a Poetry Peek!

Blackout Poem from Today's Poem
by Amy LV

Students - This is the first blackout poem I've ever made, and it's a little silly because I made it from a poem that I had just written.  I had the poem right in front of me, though, and I thought, "Why not?"  My blackout poem, as you may have noticed, has the same message as the original poem.  I'll have to try this again sometime; I really liked doing all of that Sharpie coloring.  

Today's post, all about blackout poetry, is inspired by the work of two teachers and some young poets in Massachusetts.  And today's poem is in honor of them.

It is my pleasure today to welcome Carol Weis, an author whose writing has appeared online at Salon, GH, Cosmo, xoJane, Literary Mama, and The Fix, and read as commentary on NPR.  Book-wise, she is author of the chapbook DIVORCE PAPERS and the children's book WHEN THE COWS GOT LOOSE and is also a teaching artist I admire.  

The other week, I read a couple of Carol's Facebook posts at her page Poems Have Feelings Too, and I asked about the possibility of sharing her residency students' work here.  Lucky for all of us...she, Teacher Jodi Alatalo, and the young writers all said YES!

Carol's Facebook Post Highlighting This Project

A Student Blacking Out Words in Avi's Text

Welcome, to Carol, to teacher Jodi Alatalo, and  to these young poets!

These blackout poems are the result of a workshop I did during my six-month poetry residency called Poems Have Feelings Too with 4th grade teacher, Jodi Alatalo, and her class of eager poets at Maple School in Easthampton, MA, sponsored by a Massachusetts Cultural Council STARS grant. This is my fifth year working with Jodi, who also believes that poetry is a gift and a powerful way to expand students' literacy skills, plus a great place to go with strong feelings. 

Blackout poetry was one of the many activities I introduced to our fourth graders for National Poetry Month, a time during my residency when I amp up the poetry fun. When introducing the activity, I handed out a four-step template for them to use, repeating "Robin" four times, outlining each step to take, i.e., choosing an anchor word, underlining and circling other words they want to use for their poem, before blacking out the others. Here's a visual explanation and how-to for blackout poetry for anyone who wants to give it a try.

I also made a multimedia piece about our workshops at Storia.  (You will need to join to view, but it is completely wonderfully worth it!  - Amy)  The piece is titled Poetry Chronicles.  

This is the poem that these students used as a text for the following blackout poems.  Enjoy the many students' blackout poems that grew from one short text.  

From The Poem Farm Archives
December 5, 2012

Students' Blackout Poems

by Chloe D.

by Zariah R.

by Elizabeth P.

by Sage Y.

by Hailey W.

by Jonathan C.

by Arhab M.

by Elias G.

by McKenzie R.

by Anastasia G.

by Jaeda R.

by Evianna Y.

by Keeghan V.-J.

Thank you very much to these generous poets and teachers for sharing with us today.  It is an honor to showcase your work celebrating poetry, creativity, and this beautiful time of year!  And students, my advic for today is: if you've never done so before, consider trying a blackout poem yourself.  

This month I am so happy to highlight another rich student celebration over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  Please do not miss the post by teacher Katie Liseo and her students.  It is a fabulous celebration of writer's notebooks, perfect for end-of-school-year joy or to inspire all of us as we think toward summer and fall.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I love these--it's so fun to see the words different students choose from the same text! (And that source poem is just wonderful.)

  2. Wow, what a great project! Love to see all the variations :-)

  3. To each student who participated in this exercise:

    I want to let you know how proud I am of each of you. Children's poetry, in all its wonder, will never lead you wrong. Keep writing, keep reading, kept listening to your teachers and your poetic Aunts and Uncles like Amy, me, and the phelthora of others in the children's poetry community. We believe in you. M

    My best,