Blackout Poetry: Breathing New Life into Discarded Books

Photo by Janko Ferlic on

It’s another one of those life seasons. Little time to be creative as I wrap up another school year. I’m working on my violet poem in any spare moments I can carve out of the day, but I must admit disc golf and time building dams in the creek with my younger boys has been taking precedence. Summer is teasing me. I can almost taste the watermelon!

Therefore, let me give you a feeling for what my creative writing students have been working on over the past week: blackout poetry. In essence, you simply need an old book that you don’t mind marking up (head to a yard sale or the Salvation Army, for example). Our school library discards unused items each year. I snagged an unassuming book titled, Quest for Myth by Richard Chase published in 1949. It has become my collection of blackout poems.

Once you have a book, pick any page and then look for an anchor word or phrase. Maybe it will be “myth is magical” or “reality may not be so pressing.” Then, read the entire page over and underline in pencil words that relate to that anchor word or phrase. You may want to look over those words a couple times, adding or removing words as necessary, until you have only the words you want. Then, using a black marker, black out all the words you DON’T want, leaving you with a found poem of sorts. Below is a poem I created in 2017, titled “Language.”


Vincent H. Anastasi – 2017

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