Earth Day Celebration: Making Blackout Poems to Surface Ideas

EarthDay BlackOut Poem Blend

We came back yesterday from our week-long April break to Earth Day, and to a double environmental issue of Time for Kids magazine, and in the midst of our poetry unit. It seemed like a good time to bring in Blackout Poetry, for what sixth grader can resist the power of the Sharpie?

After reading some of the pieces in the Earth Day special edition of TFK, I explained the nature of Blackout Poems  — remove text to reveal text, as a found poem inside the redactions. After finding words and phrases, I had them move to their writing notebooks to compose a short poem (at this point, they could re-order words and phrases and add words, if needed).

The picture above is my sample, from an article about re-using bridges and machinery to create coral reef ecosystems. Some students did get a chance to share their poems, and they were wonderful in their eccentricity, as free-style poems with an environmental theme. Perfect writing for Earth Day!

Peace (to this planet),


Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty Three


via Bud Hunt


Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty Three

Until further notice,
be fully aware:

there will
be no more poems
shared, inscribed, or written,
sipped, savored, or eaten,
nor poems nibbled at
with salt and pepper and
nothing playful will be left
in the margins of letters,

no couplets, no stanzas
no rhymes, no dances
with words in the air,
juggling meaning

We don’t care!

There will be nothing
no more here
under the guise
of a poem

*until there is

Peace (breaks rules),

PS — this poem is inspired by today’s daily photograph prompt at Bud Hunt’s blog.

Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty One

(Note: The image I found and used as inspiration is not a Creative Commons licensed image, so I have left a note for the photographer, in hopes they will make a change that allows me to embed their lovely image — you can view the image directly with this link. UPDATE: The photographer wrote back, giving me permission to embed their photo. I am grateful for the response.– Kevin)

Kent - Bedgebury National Pinetum

Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty One

All small paths
locate you into
larger spaces,
each narrowing
divide of wood or
stone or dreams
bridge the gap
between what is
possible in this
moment and what
is not

Peace (across each bridge),

PS — I found the photo that inspired this poem via Alan Levine’s Don’t Look At My Photos tool that surfaces Flickr photos that may have escaped notice.

Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty

Photo by: enneafive : under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Photo by Joey Z1 : under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty

Such strange silhouettes shadow
our days — a soft golden gaze
composed of memories walking
among the fields, where the past
grazes, sleeping, with the present –
today, into tomorrow, into yesterday

Peace (in poems),

PS — image found at the Flickr Blendr site

Novel-in-Verse Review: Voices from the March on Washington

Let me begin with one of the first poems in this intriguing collection of free verse narratives of fictional characters who are making their way to Washington DC in August 1963 to protest for Civil Rights.

For All, 1963

If you contend the noblest end
of all is human rights, amend
the laws; The beauty of the sun
is that it shines on everyone

In Voices from the March on Washington, by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon, the poetry sings the stories of the people who gathered to be part of the 250,000 protesters.

The poets here invent some fictional characters — a white teenager from the midwest, a young black girl from the south, a lawyer from the north, a Japanese internment survivor from the West — and brings their voices into a mix that will remind you of how far our country has come, and how far it has yet to go.

I started this book, thinking it would be a non-fiction collection, and so was pleasantly surprised to find myself immersed in poetry of all stripes. The poems dig deep, from those who are not sure why they are on the bus, to those on the bus being attacked with objects against glass windows, to those doubting whether MLK’s famous words are enough, to those making connections between races in ways that would have been impossible in the communities from which they departed. All are changed by the experience.

So is the reader, and this book is appropriate for any upper elementary to middle school classroom.

I’ll leave you with this last poem from the book:

Last Impressions
black without white
a moonless
a life
white without black
p. 97

Peace (as poems heal),


Random Access Poetry: Day Nineteen

Image from page 248 of “Child religion in song and story” (1909) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Random Access Poetry: Day Nineteen

You follow me close, from under,
a bass echoing in

All these notes, we are becoming:
a harmony, singing,

yet with each measured breath
we can’t escape the

another voice, singing strong,
frames us forward:

Peace (singing it),

PS — this random photo came from the Internet Archive Book Image project. A bot sent this particular image out in Mastodon, and it caught my eye.

Carry That Poem Around in Your Pocket

Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day — so either write your own poem to bring around with you or find a favorite or maybe discover something new. There are lots of resources at the Poets.Org site.

Before our April break, I handed out a poem to every one of my students. We read them and I had them fold them up, put them in their pockets, and carry some words around with them. A few students were a bit befuddled but others were appreciative and curious.


I wrote this poem as a riff of my CLMOOC poet friend, Raymond, the other day, and so, while I made it digital, I also hand-wrote it out, and this is the poem I will carry with me today. I lifted the first line from Ray’s poem — a Lunch Break Sonnet.

A Poem for Ray

The middle is a spring
thunderstorm –
all wind and fury
and unpredictable worry:

You keep me covered
while I hold you tight
Love is what gets us
through the night

Peace (make it linger),

Random Access Poetry: Day Seventeen

October Morning Light flickr photo by Pavel P. (P. (this is old account that I no longer shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Random Access Poetry: Day Seventeen

When they talk of those
walking on water, of
the miracle of wonder

perhaps this is what they mean

From here, anything seems
possible, even the way
we might slip across the
surface tension

and dance with the trees

I wait, while you pull
on your boots, our socks
still wet from yesterday’s

excursion into photography

Peace (through a lens, brightly),

PS — this image was discovered through the Flickr Stampr Creative Commons search engine — I used the word “periphery” to find an image because it came up in another poem the other day and I like the idea of edges.