Our March creative writing workshop was dedicated to blackout and found poetry.

Blackout poetry is the poetic form of taking an existing text and blacking out words and lines to leave a new poem… The act of redacting or recomposing the original text by presenting the remaining non-blackened text as a new work.  The poem is usually presented or read as is; the words that remain on the page as well as the blackouts are part of the poem.

Found poetry–at least as I’ve presented to the teens–are more often rearranged.  Found poetry is the process of taking existing texts–this can be anything from a page of a book, news article, or even a computer manual–and selecting phrases or words, then refashioning, slicing, and reordering the selected text to present a new poem.  According to poets.org, it is the “literary equivalent of a collage.”

The teen writers tried both of these forms as well as an altered form of blackout poetry using highlighters.  They also wrote in pairs.  Although every work is still an expression of the writer, this process felt less exposing since the original text was written by someone else.  For those that normally struggle with poetry–as many of the teens in the workshop have admitted–this exercise makes writing poems less intimidating.


Check out what they’ve come up with!


Selected from the Teen Creative Writing Workshop, March 8, 2014, Pasadena Central Library:

The typed text below, particularly the line breaks, was interpreted from what was presented to me.


Blackout poetry by Johanna H., age 16

Original text from Under the Never Sky

blackout poetry - johanna h.

Every breath felt


while, he could only cough and pace until the pain

leaving a streak of

blood                rested

against the wall



gut told him              that

he wasn’t sure

her temper showed every

small emotion


this was the only way


warm blood decaying


He inhaled again, curious, but her mind was deep in the unconscious

He thought about

behind him

the crumbling dark

forcing him to crawl over broken cement and warped metal, pushing

luck in his world


Alarms broke

the silence

around him, so loud he felt the sound thrum in his chest


He led his head fall again


It smelled like

chemicals that burned hotter than fire

but it was nothing compared to



It was bad enough


he’d killed at least one of them


Found poetry by Kenny W., age 14

Original text from Publisher’s Weekly

found poetry - kendra w.


returns to the Hollows

with a new name

and appearance

where no one knows

father, death, Luke

discovered her secrets

and threatens to expose her


disappears after the

two of them argue


Found poetry by Evan H., age 13

Original text from The Fall of the House of Usher

found poetry - evan h.

A dark autumn passing alone

through a view of

the House with a gloom spirit

with insufferable feeling of

a sentiment mind scenes of

images desolate

upon the mere house

upon vacant eye-like windows

upon a few rank bleak walls,

with an utter depression I can compare to

no earthly sensation

no goading of the imagination

I paused to think


Found poetry by Danielle J., age 16

Original text from Publisher’s Weekly

foundpoetry_danielle j.

Two friendships and relationships are tested

when she and her young son

are caught in the crossfire of

stickup gone bad

their friendship

form by heart breaking

Feuding murder case begins with

The fact of unresolved love anguish

Draws people together and collectively

Pushes them apart. Realistic war

overshadowed by many flaws is



Found poetry 

(by Jane Gov, librarian)

Original text from Steampunk Frankenstein


found poetry jane

the creature whom

I feared

remain a cold


flesh tingle            pulse beat

freed from its hideous


To view a listing of our upcoming programs, visit:  http://cityofpasadena.net/library/teens/events_and_programs/


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