Visual Assignment #3

For my third assignment, I did the Newspaper Blackout Poetry, worth 3 stars.

Here’s the image:

Newspaper Blackout Poetry

The poem reads:

‚Äúsacred representations‚ÄĚ


attempted murder

confused, angry and fearful

feel sacred figures

ubiquity of sacred images

t-shirts and bumper stickers


the path was settled

the creation to be a violation

scratched out

marched on


feared, warned, compelled


waged war

burned and dismembered


avoided depicting


holy and sacred

George Washington

sacred duty

become commonplace




nothing short of blasphemy

constant source of conflict

That’s a damned lie!

violence painted


crucifix, submerged

a crusade

vaginas surrounding her

elephant dung was smeared


caused mass violence

intense conflict

a culture supersaturated

largely without violence

I think the hardest part for me was finding the right article. This one came out of the Thursday issue of the New York Times. It was about religion, which I knew would have great phrases. It was also hard to black out certain phrases and leave others, since I was using a sharpie. I just picked out phrases or words that stood out to me and then had a few people read through it to make sure it made somewhat sense (although the power of poetry is that it doesn’t always make sense.) I went with my first instincts and actually really liked the finished product. I will probably do this exercise again.

PS: my poem, because of the length of the article I chose, ended up pretty long. I don’t mind, but when choosing an article it may help to focus on shorter articles or blurbs.

We the Chickens

My final assignment from the bank this week was Newspaper Blackout Poetry:

“Grab a marker and today’s morning edition and start blacking out sections to create a new story. It could be a poem, a picture, or a novella, all drawn from the words of the latest news.”

Fredericksburg chickens unanimously passed two ordinances that allow beehives to petition in support of bees in residential neighborhoods.

This is just a little nonsensical story. The original text stuck out to me because the title was about chickens, a front page story about chickens? Did I move to the midwest over night? At first this story was about Fredericksburg residents voting that chicken copes and beehive can be allowed in residential neighborhoods as long as they are properly restrained an protected, but I decided to focus it more on the chickens running a town of bees. I think it turned out pretty well.


I made this story by finding an already silly story in the Star Weekly and blacking out words to make it different.

Other people’s words


For an assignment that I didn’t enjoy nearly as much as I thought I would, I certainly went a bit overboard with it. There’s another newsprint blackout poem under the cut, as well as my own spin on the art form.

Weirdly, I think the reason I found this assignment less awesome than I initially anticipated was that I am a poet. It’s one of the titles I use to define myself, these days–poetry is part of me, just as much as breathing or seeing, speech or touch. It sounds a little ridiculous but it’s absolutely true. Trying to create poetry from a fixed collection of words was uncomfortably limiting. When I write poems, I agonize over ever single syllable, each line break, which words are placed where. It’s an intense process, and this kind of poetic creation was a bit frustrating.

Even so, I love the look of these poems. The meaning and word order can’t be as precise as I’d like since I’m not choosing the words, but I’d be hard pressed to find a form that’s more visually arresting:


While I was thinking about the form of these poems, I thought about what might happen if I reversed their format. Essentially, instead of blacking out large sections of newsprint and leaving only a few visible words, I highlighted a couple of words and left the main article visible:


Nifty, isn’t it? It’s fascinating, this play of language–the way it changes the original article,the way the original article alters and informs the newly created poem… gah. I could go on! I’ll be curious to see if anybody else came up with a similar idea, or wants to try my variation on this theme.

Visual Assignment: Newspaper Blackout Poetry

Newspaper Blackout Poetry

Grab a marker and today’s morning edition and start blacking out sections to create a new story. It could be a poem, a picture, or a novella, all drawn from the words of the latest news.

This is a 3 star assignment.

Visual Assignment; Newspaper blackout part 1

Newpaper Blackout Part 2

Newspaper Blackout part 3

Newspaper blackout part 4

Instead of a national newspaper I decided to choose the UMW newspaper The Bullet.¬† I walked into the academic building Combs and grabbed the first edition of The Bullet that I saw.¬† It was from September 20, 2012, as shown in image above.¬† I saw this article on the front page called Study Abroad Provides Choices by Kim Humphries.¬† The word choices stuck out to me the most and that’s what I decided to base my shot mini poem about.¬† So¬†I read through the article and found words that would go together that describe the work choices and the process of making choices.¬† I created this short poem from words in from the newspaper because it is really relating to what I have to do now in my life.¬† I have to make a lot of decisions (which I’m not very good about) about life and college.¬† For example I have to make a choice of what I want to major in as well as choosing what I want to do with the rest of my life after college.¬† I¬†enjoyed¬†doing this assignment because it was something I would not have thought to do.¬† It just came up when I¬†clicked choose a random one¬†in Visual Assignments.

Here below is a typed out version of my poem I blacked out from The Bullet newspaper:


Which began,

And ends.

Once in between,




Provide advice.

In the end it will be worth it.


More ds106 Visual Fun

A ds106 assignment that intrigued me was Newspaper Blackout Poetry. It’s a three star assignment and that seemed excessive to me, at first. Turns out, it is pretty challenging.
I looked at several articles and tried to plan out some possibilities. I actually wanted to avoid this one because it seemed to serious, too raw, too painful. But in the end it was the one that worked best for me.
Here’s the original article:
Here’s the poem once I blacked out a bunch of words.
not usual
critical pain
And with that emotional end, I wrap up the visual assignments piece (a tad late, but it’s done!).

Unscrambling Messages

Wow, what a week it has been at Camp. Everything is going okay, but this stress of keeping everything upbeat is taking its toll. The campers are all engrossed in their creative activities, and Martha and i seem to have gotten a few of the lagging students up to speed. We are seeing the beginnings of a lot of creative output, some starting simply. A number of them are not getting the stuff about embedding media and a few others could be writing more stories.

But everything is going to plan.

Yet I worry. I hear whispering in groups of people that go silent as I walk by, and the nasty anonymous notes appear under my door on a regular basis. ¬†I think they dont like me; and IO hate that cause I am giving my all to this camp, working 20 hours a day, commenting to everyone, spending a ton of time in the control room tweaking the pipes and feeds. Stuff no one sees. I’ve been also banging the pipes on the Assignments collection¬†making some functional improvements (has anyone evne noticed the random generators we added? Do they know all the cleanup I am doing each week to prep the new assignments?)

Mostly I am getting worried because Martha appears so paranoid, and more and more she acts like she does not trust me. I have gone to every effort to calm the worries of the CVI staff; they do not know how things get tricky when they put me in a position of looking like I am being secretive.

And how can Martha think I am not even in camp? I wave at her all the time, yell out her name in the mess hall. I was sitting there right opposite her at the last campfire, she was looking my way, but her eyes kept unfocussing like she did not even see me. I’ve knocked on her door a few times the chat after the last rounds, but she never answers; I can only hear the low tones of that old Morrisey LP “Maladjusted”.

Why does she think I am keeping shed 4 a mystery? I know no more than her- I’ve not gone in, and now she is expcting me to show it to her tomorrow. She seems really creeped out by Marco, and I suggested he pick some flowers for her tomorrow.

I saw her this afternoon walking down to the lake, and I ran to catch her, but she ducked inside the library. I was going to follow her in, but found this curious sheet of paper that had slipped out of her backpack:

lines of ???

On the back it was scribbled “be #4life”. I did not know what to make of it until I saw that one of our students had done the blackout poetry assignment. With some guesswork, I laid the found paper over a print out of Martha’s recent camp post Embedding is #4life- on its surface, this was a very important message for our students, and Martha writes them so well.

But see why I am worried now? I get this message by combining what I found with her blog post:

I get:

I see ways I could share ways I want to link what I did there, a poopy way, I have to look at a prettier way to get to a bunch of other stuff

Its cryptic, but she seems stuck on the things that happened last year. What is a “prettier way” – is it being nice to me? And what is this other stuff she wants to get to?

I really do not want to alarm the home office, and honestly, it feeds into the paranoia I already feel, and the lack of trust. So I am sitting on this and looking for more clues. It might backfire to not report to CVI, but they just take my stuff in and never give me much feedback. They just give orders.

life. a newspaper blackout poem

life. a blackout poem
The newspaper poetry blackout assignment is a project I’ve wanted to do for awhile. I’m a big fan of the fridge magnets that give you a limited set of words to work and create with and I see this kind of assignment along the same lines.

I grabbed my free copy of the Free Lance-Star Weekly and started looking through the articles. I found a couple of good candidates that contained words that caught my eye. I started on one and decided I didn’t like it as I moved along. I was mostly eyeballing my way down the columns and not really circling things so I easily got lost when I went back to find the poem again. Perhaps I should circle stuff in pencil first?

The article¬†I chose was about a local former detective building a film career so there was an abundance of really good words to use in the poem. As I went down I spotted “pursuing”, “rumored”, “alive”, “challenge” but, I ended up not using them because I wanted to keep it simple. I decided to start at “life.” and treat it as the title of my poem and also a framework for what I wanted to talk about. I found that maintaining a good sounding poem and an aesthetically pleasing image is a double challenge that can be frustrating at times.

What I ended up with was this poem:
a little odd familiar space where bodies get to keep up this act.

I was quite pleased with the final poem (although a bit cynical) and the way the visual of the poem turned out.

I can see myself becoming addicted to this kind of art. I definitely see myself doing more of these in the future for fun.

Altered Books and Blackout Poetry

My middle school students have been working for the past month on their altered books.  One of the parents donated a bunch of old science books from Time Life and we have been systematically ripping out pages, painting, gluing, and using Sharpies on them.  Here are a few of their Blackout Poems.

Silver Blackout
Great Physician
Education with End
Riddle Injury

And a spare poem thrown in for fun.

The assignment for this page was to find text that they liked and blackout the rest.  They were trying to create a free form poem, without worrying too much about making sentences.  I encouraged them to use images either by drawing them, or by including them (not blacking them out) on their page.

The students liked this page in particular because it was creative without being too taxing.

If you are in the area next week, the kids have a show at the Box Factory.  You can come and check out their books along with a bunch of other great art.


Arthur C. Clarke Blackout Poetry

Though it’s not a newspaper (as the original #Ds106 assignment prescribes), I had the idea this afternoon while my teaching parnter was teaching the Arthur C. Clarke short story, “I forget thee, Earth” to give the front page of our handout the blackout poetry treatment.

The text of the new work, Art Clark’s “I forget Earth…” is below, should anyone want to give the piece a Tom Woodward “snowball” and turn the text into something else: song, dialogue, a rock opera…

Ten years old, his father
took up Administration and
Power, the uppermost and
swiftly growing Farmlands.

Great, slender plants creeping
creeping towards the sun,
Down the domes to meet
the smell of life.
inexpressive in his heart

no longer.

Breathing dry cool air,
residential levels, purged
of smells but ozone.

Here, little father, onwards.

Reach to the observatory.
Never visit, but sense rising

One goal: life, outside, surface wide,
and pressurized. Servicing scout car['s]
circular door.

Tense expectancy, settled down in
cramped cabin.

Visual Assignment: Newspaper Blackout Poetry

I loved this assignment.