Seeking Contexts- blackout poetry

I have been seeing a lot of blackout poetry lately, which has led me to conclude that it is a distinctly subversive form of poetry. Really, a bit of creative manipulation and thievery. You take an original text, put light pencil squares around the words and phrases you select, ultimately blacking out all of the other words. Using this technique, you can either reinforce what the original text is saying, or refute it using its own words, or you can shine a light on a particular thing the text is saying. You can make the text argue for or against itself. Or both. Blackout poems can easily be made to contain both claims and counterclaims. But who cares about writing arguments? We came for the poetry! So please let me encourage you to take your favorite books- the ones you have learned so much from, the ones you are always quoting, the ones that are so full of ideas you seem to notice something new every time you reread them. Photocopy a bunch of pages out of those books, get yourself a Sharpie, and make some poems!

Here is a blackout poem made from Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, 
the Arts, and Social Change by Maxine Greene, copyright 1995 Jossey Bass)


Seeking Contexts

are currency
for national primacy

What sort of curriculum

has been called the “disuniting of America?”

such questions

on the lower

for granted

efficiency/feed into claims schools can be manipulated to

comply and serve

From a distance they would never be

able to deal with

the intentionality of everyday life.

Worn-down, crowded urban classrooms

sudden shimmers

clattering corridors like the backstreets of ancient cities.

Puzzled eyes with all their flaws
view every act as a new beginning.

those without a sense of agency
seem alien

How is the teacher to cope with this?



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