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What I Learned From Doing Black Out Poetry With My Fiancé

What I Learned From Doing Black Out Poetry With My Fiancé

Mike Doane

Writing black out poetry was probably the hardest creative act I’ve ever done. To look through a book and choose a page to tear out felt like sacrilege, defamation, a literary sin.

Yet it felt so freeing. Reading the words on the page, decomposing the message and manipulating the words to form something different, something new, was such a great release. Being able to free myself from thought and create passively when I always try to be in such control was amazing.

My fiancé is a visual artist who loves crafting. She always says how she’d love to write — poetry especially — but doesn’t know where to begin. I asked her to join me for this challenge and she was very receptive. It’s more her style than mine really.

The first one is mine, the second is hers. Here’s what we came up with:

A Page From Some Private Diary

A Page from Some Private Diary, a Black Out Poem By Michael Doane
Blue-tinted paper. Small, unburned margins which lay amid the ashes. [This] single sheet upon the floor escaped destruction, a page from some private diary. It’s ragged edge indeed torn from a book. You must on no account lose another instant.

My Heart Turned To Water

My Heart Turned To Water, A Black Out Poem by Emily Oliverio
“Take it with you.”
I did what she said,
my heart turned to water,
I cried.
“But was there another?” I asked.
Of course I saw it.
I ran off as hard as my feet would carry me,
And now–
I am without.


So first off, I was reminded (as I had learned before) that my fiancé is a much better poet and artist than I am. Her words are stronger and if she’d write, she would be famous, I swear. She has the heart and soul to be a poet. I will forever be bound to prose.

She also is much better at crossing out words. Her poem looks like a work of art. Mine looks like a scribble some kid did and I even scratched out a ‘this’ I needed.

What I really learned from all of this is that I love doing art with my spouse and if we all did it more often the world would be a happier place. It’s in our bones to create and it’s in our hearts to connect. This activity brought creation and connection together.

Emily is my first reader. She is the one I want to love my work, so I write for her. Having her write for me was lovely.