Newspaper Blackout Poetry

February 24, 2010

I just heard about Austin Kleon, who creates “Newspaper Blackout” poetry by circling words in newspapers and blacking out the rest. It’s really neat to see what he comes up with. One of my favorites on his website is about marriage. It’s touching and sweet.

I also enjoyed his post about a workshop he gave at a university – where there was a group effort to create blackout poetry. Sounds very very cool!

He has a book coming out soon – entitled, of course,  Newspaper Blackout and you can learn more about how to create your own Blackout poetry at his website.

Cool stuff!

© 2010 writingreading

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Encouragement – Pass it On

August 10, 2009

I’ve written before about how a good friend of mine encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing a book.  Two days ago, I had the opportunity to do the same for someone else.

This person is a friend who is a gifted but very private poet, who has shared her work with me over the past several years. Her poems are intensely personal – but bearing the mark of the best writing – they are also universal. The reader can relate – either because she herself has experienced some of the same situations, the same emotions, or just is given insight into what that must be like, from that writer’s perspective.

This friend told me – at first with great assertion – then quickly changing to fear and uncertainty – “I’ve decided I’m going to publish.”  I was thrilled. I had believed for a long time that her poems would find a ready audience, and that they should be shared.

Like my other friend from several years back, I was able to tell this friend, now, to “Go for it! You deserve this. It is important. You can do it. And yes, you (and your writing) are good enough!”

It was a privilege and an honor. And I cannot wait to see where this journey is going to take her. She is a strong woman, and a talented writer, whom I admire very much. I’m so lucky to be able to call her my friend – and luckier still to be in a place where I can give her encouragement  in this endeavor. Just like someone else did for me a few years ago. It changed my life.

© writingreading, 2009


Reading Julia Alvarez

July 10, 2008

I thought I’d write today about Julia Alvarez. I’m sure she is a very well-known modern poet, but since the only living poet that I can name is Maya Angelou, I had not heard of her.

I picked up Alvarez’s book of poems entitled The Woman I Kept to Myself – simply because I found the title intriguing. I haven’t had much of a chance to sit and read straight through; I’ve just dipped in and out, here and there, and I found her to be a very gifted and inspiring poet. Besides the gift and craft of any poet, the crafting of words and rhythms, I find the topics she chooses to write about and her way of expressing them extremely interesting, in part, because she brings poetry to the everyday-ness of life.

For example, she writes about visiting a therapist (“The Therapist”), and how the therapist’s technique is to let his patients search out and find their own answers to their problems. She writes of men rising out of manhole covers (“Manholes”), and gives it an unexpected twist at the end. She talks about how she (or the narrator) dreams that her husband has given away all of her headbands that she no longer wears, but how it makes her feel like a part of herself has been given away, to women she does not know. And of course is relieved when she awakes to find her husband soundly sleeping beside her (“Hairbands”).

And then I think my favorite poem is entitled “Tone” – about how she can tell who her husband is talking to on the phone in the next room, just by the way he talks. This poem, in particular, I find touching, not only for the love and craft of the poem itself, but for the closeness of the couple that it portrays.

Again, I’m sure my own words fall short in attempting to do her work justice, but I found her poetry well-crafted, insightful, and inspiring.

© writingreading 2008