I've played with blackout poetry on this blog before. I don't know what I was thinking when I didn't explain the process nor did I credit the inspiration. Alan J. Wright breaks it down on his blog livinglifetwice. If you haven't read his blog, do it now....come back to mine later but you must visit his.
Anyway, here's the idea of blackout poetry, in Alan's words.
Here’s what happened. First, I photocopied a selected page. Then I blocked out those words and phrases I found most appealing to my eye, my ear and my heart. This part of the process was somewhat surgical. Only those words that suited me made the final cut. Every word had to contribute. Every word was required to pull its weight. There is no room for passengers in a poem. It’s about the effect of powerful words in tight spaces.
My poem was originally a piece in The New York Times Magazine.
No Room for Passengers
the Friendship Train-
LA bound for Europe,
cross North America,
boxcars of Colorado wheat, Nebraska beans, Wisconsin milk.
reach New York
amass 40 million dollars of food, clothing, fuel
from people across the country.
load onto ships.
back onto trains festooned with American flags.
the beneficiaries – starving from post WWII food shortage.
their free lunch.
a year later,
France returns the gesture.
a Thank You Train.
one boxcar per state
plus one for Washington, D.C., Hawaii
painted with provincial coats of arms
filled with bonnets, dolls, schoolchildren’s merci notes.
no takers on board a You’re Welcome Train.