NWP Radio: My Interview With Rob Rokicki

I had the privilege of interviewing Rob Rokicki for the National Writing Project’s Write Time Radio show. Rob is a musician and composer, who wrote the music and lyrics for a Broadway version of The Lightning Thief. We chatted about his work and how he composes, and the idea of story narrative in connection to music.

Peace (talking it out),

Creating a Solar Eclipse Blackout Poem

(NOTE: This post is a tutorial as part of Write Out, April 2024)
Solar Eclipse Blackout Poem

Here is one way to create a blackout/erasure poem, particularly when the Solar Eclipse comes through and the moon “erases” or “blackens out” part of the Sun. Get it?

For mine (above), I used some text generated by ChatGPT in which it explains what a Solar Eclipse is. You may want to find some other text or perhaps the Wendell Berry poem – To Know The Dark — as your main text.

This is what ChatGPT gave me for my activity:

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun’s entire disk and casting a shadow on Earth’s surface. This extraordinary celestial event unfolds as the moon aligns perfectly with the sun, blocking its light and creating a temporary darkness known as totality within a narrow path on Earth’s surface. During totality, the sun’s corona, the outermost layer of its atmosphere, becomes visible, appearing as a shimmering halo around the obscured sun. Total solar eclipses are rare and captivating phenomena that captivate observers with their awe-inspiring beauty and serve as a reminder of the intricate dance of celestial bodies in our solar system.

I took that text and put it into the Blackout Poetry Maker over at Glitch. It’s a simple site to use. Just add the main text, and then choose the words and phrases that you want to remain on the screen. You can either download the final poe

This is what I came up with:

Blackout Poem (raw)

I then went into Flickr’s Public Domain image search to find a Solar Eclipse image to use as a background image. I found one that I liked, a lot.

Solar Eclipse 2017
Solar Eclipse 2017 flickr photo by Jamie Kohns shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Finally, I went into LunaPic — an online image editor — and used its Blender Tool (find it under Effects) to layer my Blackout Poem with the Solar Eclipse image, creating the final project (see above).

Peace (even when the sky goes dark),

Lightning Thief Musical: Songs From The Show

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical | CarolinaTix

Last night, I had the pleasure to interview Rob Rokiki for the National Writing Project’s Write Time show. Rob wrote the music and lyrics to The Lightning Thief musical, and he shared insights into his writing process and creative thinking when balancing music, writing and story. When the NWP interview gets released, I’ll share it here but I also found the album of music he wrote from that show that had been released as an album.

I teach The Lightning Thief as a novel with my sixth graders, so this was a wonderful experience to talk to Rob. They were excited to hear about my opportunity to connect with the writer of the songs of the musical.

Peace (and song),

Gathering Poems: Write Across America (Baltimore)

I have shared some of these poems during the days I wrote them, but I wanted to gather them together. These are all inspired by the National Writing Project’s Write Across America: Baltimore marathon. I mostly ignored the official prompts and instead, focused on the artist and their work.

Peace (and poems and place),

Poetry: Clay Face

Clay Face

Here’s another in a series of short poems inspired by the National Writing Project’s Baltimore stop for its Write Across America project. This poem is inspired by the clay sculpture work of Paula Whaley — learn more about her with this video.

Peace (smoothed out),

NWP Write Across America: Baltimore

Home - Write Across America

The National Writing Project’s Write Across America place-based adventures continues into the school year, and I continue my practice of using the resources — when the resources get shared beyond the Zoom sessions that I nearly always miss — for some morning writing. This week, the project focused on artists in Baltimore, and it is a pretty fascinating collection.

Here are three poems (so far), inspired by three Baltimore artists and their work.

The first was from the work of Kathleen Fahey, who does old cranky-style videos, which are spooled stories that someone literally cranks to move along. Pretty cool and gives a story a forward motion.

A Tale Like This

The second poem came after exploring the work of Joyce Scott, who works with beads and glass and fabrics and more.


The third was focused on visual artist Ernest Shaw Jr., whose work is inspired by West African tradition and who does a variety of styles of art, including street murals. I listened to a video profile, taking notes on his words and then remixed his words into an art-themed poem.

In The Words of Ernest Shaw

Peace (in explorations of art),

Digital Poems from NWP’s Write Across America

This summer, the National Writing Project hosted a series of virtual visits to Writing Project sites for writing events in its annual Write Across America project. I didn’t attend any of the virtual writing events, alas, but I did use the resources generated by each site to write and compose digital poems. I’ve shared them periodically, but I wanted to gather them in one post.







I enjoyed the challenge of using places for inspiration, but I appreciated the resources gathered by NWP friends in each of those sites, as the breadth of images, stories, videos and other elements provided many inroads for writing.

Peace (Landscapes),


Write Across America Poem: Canyon Dreams

I finally got to see the prompts from the last summer stop for the National Writing Project’s Write Across America, and the Central Arizona Writing Project focused on the Grand Canyon as its source for writing. Some other day, I am going to gather the digital poems I did this summer into one post.

Peace (and poems),

Poem: That Dog Might

This week’s stop for the National Writing Project’s Write Across America was at the South Coast Writing Project at UC Santa Barbara (California) and the theme was social justice.

I chose an image by photographer Mary Ellen Mark called The Damm Family In Their Car, which was a powerful visual of a family on the edge, and the description with the image mentioned the family’s dog, too, and that dog — Runtley –  became the focus of my poem.

(Note: Copyright protections means I could not use the actual image and the dog image here was generated by Adobe Firefly)

Peace (and Support),