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Poetry Friday.

Just in case you have somehow missed it, April is Poetry Month!

So, on this first #PoetryFriday of Poetry Month, I decided to share a poem about poetry that I found in words of Seamus Heaney. In case you don’t know Seamus Heaney, here’s a one-line introduction.

“Beloved Irish poet, playwright, and translator Seamus Heaney was the recipient of innumerable awards, including the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, and was noted in his lifetime as the best-read living poet in the world.” –Maria Popova

And now for the poem I found.

Poetry’s Power

Poetry has power
To persuade that
vulnerable part of our consciousness
of rightness
in spite of evidence of wrongness
To remind us
we are hunters and gatherers of values
To reopen the subject
with something new
from a different angle
To entrance you
for a moment
above your consciousness
above your possibilities
Then there is hope.

A poem found in the words of Seamus Heaney
© 2017 Alice Nine

Source of my found poem.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Seamus Heaney, quoted by Maria Popova on BrainPickings. I have put the words I used in the poem in bold.

Seamus Heaney in Paris Review interview

The form of the poem … is crucial to poetry’s power {I took liberty here because the possessive form means “has”} to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry’s credit: the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable, in so far as they, too, are an earnest of our veritable human being.
I think the poet who didn’t feel the pressure at a politically difficult time would be either stupid or insensitive.
Debate doesn’t really change things. It gets you bogged in deeper. If you can address or [to] reopen the subject with something new, something from a different angle, then there is some hope. … People are suddenly gazing at something else and pausing for a moment. And for the duration of that gaze and pause, they are like reflectors of the totality of their own knowledge and/or ignorance. That’s something poetry can do for you, it can [to] entrance you for a moment above the pool of your own consciousness and your own possibilities.

Writing about my writing.

Found poem, created from the words of another.

You create a found poem from words and phrases that that you find in another person’s words. Any kind of text can be used. Just pick words, phrases, and lines that catch your attention, that you like, that speak to you, that carry a message as they go together. Then formatted these excerpts to compose a poem. I work to keep the words in their found order, and I add or change as little as possible. The poem may be on the same topic as the original text, or it may take you to a totally different topic. Anything is possible.

Click here for instructions (one-page, printable document) on how to create a found poem from ReadWriteThink
A few reasons why I like creating found poems in the classroom–
  • Easier to write if you have some words and ideas
  • Tends to eliminate writer’s block
  • Requires noticing words and phrases which supports word growth
  • Requires paying attention to multiple meanings of words
  • Encourages use of words you might not have thought of
  • Recasts prose in poetic form
  • Supports insightful reading and creative thinking and writing
Blackout poem, a special form of found poetry.

I first saw a blackout poem posted on social media. I didn’t pay much attention to it because I’d rather highlight found words and arrange them in poetic form on a clean sheet of paper than black out with markers the ones I wasn’t going to use. That just seemed like a lot of extra work, and I didn’t like the blackness of the final product.

Then I read about Austin Kleon, author, cartoonist, web designer, and creator of the blackout poem as a technique to overcome writer’s block. I like how Austin Kleon defines himself: “I’m a writer who draws. I make art with words and books with pictures.”  I watched his how to video and read some of his poems. Intrigued, I searched further and found the website of John Carroll, a maker of blackout poetry. His story is fascinating, a personal journey out of heartbeak through the making of blackout poetry. You will want to view the gallery of blackout poems. I was amazed when I did — at the words, the messages, and the artistic blackout techniques. Now I’m interested in trying my hand at the blackout version.

I also find it interesting that the blackout technique was first used to overcome writer’s block and that it also played a role in healing heartbreak and depression. Perhaps the time spent blacking out the unused words so a message of chosen words became visible was as important as the making of the poem, maybe more important.

I can clearly see the potential of creating blackout poems in the classroom. And I’m sure the student who resists recopying would love it.


National Poetry Month,
a literary celebration inaugurated
by the Academy of American Poetry


Irene at Live Your Poem is hosting
the Poetry Friday Roundup today.
Join us there!  Thank you, Irene!

Poetry Friday Schedule: 2017 January – June.
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