Orchard Students Use Blackout Poems to Shine a Light on Important Issues

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Students in Danielle Shamroe’s eighth-grade English class started the year by sharing their feelings through five different types of poetry (haiku, limerick, sonnet, concrete, and blackout). After deciding on a theme such as sports, Black Lives Matter, friendship, or The Orchard School, they weave their topics throughout a poetry portfolio. 

As teens deal with lots of changes—social dynamics, peer pressure, and a roller-coaster of emotions—poetry can be therapeutic and academically stimulating. “The walls young people use to protect their interests, struggles, or insecurities are suddenly replaced with sonnets, haikus, and blackouts,” Shamroe said, “which undeniably invite readers to engage with their deepest emotions.”

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Students create blackout poems by taking a piece of text from a magazine, book, newspaper, or other printed material and covering (or blacking out) words to write their own piece from the words left uncovered. Blackout poetry provides a new and creative angle for students who enjoy writing poems and gives those who are nervous about poetry the confidence to jump in and explore. "When looking at a blank page, oftentimes, students feel defeated or overwhelmed,” Shamroe said. “In blackout poetry, students skip the blank page and create from already printed ideas and words. This gives them the courage to delve into that creativity and feel like a real poet." 

A display of blackout poems hang outside of Ms. Shamroe’s classroom and,  because they’re visually unique, they generate lots of interest. Upon closer look, it’s clear to see the Class of 2022 is diving into important issues such as mental health awareness, equality, freedom, and love, and they have a lot to say.

ICYMI: This was a feature in The Orchard School Owl Magazine

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