By Don Rush
There is moocho-grand-ay (thank you god of phonetic spelling) angst, and turmoil in the world these days. Heck, you only have to read, listen or watch any media outlet to find the all the pain and suffering you need to sustain your desire to be sad. But, really, hasn’t there always been a ton of angst and turmoil in the world?
The world is a hard place, and life really doesn’t care who is happy or that anybody is cheerful, joyous, content or gay. The world keeps on spinning and life, as with time, keeps marching on, with or without us. That said, as not to be Donny Downer, there is much gaiety and joy in the world. There is tons of beauty in nature and from the minds of men and women throughout the ages.
Beauty, wonderment, joyfulness are all things that need to be sought out and discovered — which was really a long-winded way to get to where I am going.
I kinda’ dig poetry. I like the rhythm, the imagery, color — I like the way other people put words together because I write like I write. If I were a younger man, I’d say, “I’m jelly.” (Which is to say in young person speak, “I am jealous.”)
I think I started to like poetry when attending Sashabaw Junior High School. It was 9th grade Advanced English with Mr. Swartout. I tried writing poetry and I got out something like this:
“There once was a girl named Farrah….
“She really has the hair-a…
“With a smile that’s bright . . . why, she is so good looking, she doesn’t even wear mascara.”
Grade. C. Luckily for me, I wrote that for a classmate who was less poetically inclined than I, so he got the C!
The other day I learned of a new (to me) form of poetry. When I first heard the term “Blackout Poetry” I thought it had to do with reciting a poem that was one, long run-on sentence with only one gulp of air. By the time you finish, you pass out. Like many times (dare I say most times?) in life, I was wrong.
From Clarkston Junior High School something awesome happened! A few kids in Ms. Shaw’s Honors English Language Arts 9 class did blackout poems using Don’t Rush Me columns. So, what is this form of art?
According to Ms. Shaw, “We are exploring different ways to inspire writing and Blackout Poetry — or transforming words — is a one of those methods. Students find an anchor word that inspires or speaks to them and then begin to connect related words and phrases.”
So, for example, from a recent piece of columnistic dribble produced by yours truly and headlined A bust on Naked Gardening Day, a student produced this poem.
I am overly zealous And, sometimes
get too excited. My troubles ended.
Which lead me to An interesting day.
In the sky, white fluffy Warm, sunny and breezy
I normally look at the
Promising sun, dancing around the sky.
The moon rising. A great pasty white glow
Like a garden of luck.
From over 750 words of garble and blather to 50 words that speak beautifully — remarkable. And, that a 9th grader like Lauren Ormsby is able to make something of light and air from words I laid-out on print, keeps me jelly. Thanks a lot, Lauren! (and good job.)
And, this one from April 20, headlined, Dirty feet, no guarantees and love, blacked out by two different students for two totally (totes) different poems. The first from Farhiya Osman:
Reflecting, sharing sending love. Suddenly there was nothing anyone can do — no guarantee, if you live forever. I cringe when I say it, hiding is a way, the brilliant practice of the natural world. The underestimated world.
We live in a time our thoughts exposed too early, too often awash with our sense of others. It is an act for us to manage. I got out. It felt good.
And the second from Jessie Culver
Love is infectious.
It’s a community of friends, hugging high, kids hugging legs. Everyone is in need of this light.
Of the brilliant and virtuous bud of life that is the necessity for emerging from the names that have
Caught and imprisoned us.
Jessie and Farhiya, awesome job!
I am continually amazed and thankful for teachers from Mr. Swartout to Ms. Shaw who inspire students to look beyond the confines of their circumstance. Thank you, Mr. S and thank you, Ms. S. May your inspirational ways last long into the future.
* * *
In the absence of dark, their is light. In times of sadness and pain, their is love and beauty. Where do you gravitate? What tugs your strings. Are you drawn into the fray, willing to rip and tear down, malign and destroy because that’s what everyone does these days? Do you live for turmoil?
Or, can you seek out beauty for no other reason than you can? Do you see the grace in a drop of rain on a rose’s pedal, or the artistry of a blade of grass silhouetted by sunlight? Heck, can you find poetry in my stupid reportings of life as I see?
We need more of one and less of the other.
Be a seeker and chose wisely.
Wanna’ try your hand and Blackout Poetry? Here is a link to some past Don’t Rush Me columns. Send them to me!
Comments to Don@ShermanPublications.org