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Saint Mary’s students create ‘BlackOut Poetry Anthology’

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

As some Saint Mary’s students review old notes and tests in preparation for finals in the Cushwa-Leighton Library, some students are making markings to remove words out of old books. On a table on the first floor, torn pieces of paper are being edited by adding black lines to mark out unnecessary words. This is the process of blackout poetry, brought to the library as part of a class project.

Three students, junior Dalanie Beach, and first-years Hannah Toepp and Hannah Kornfeld, completed this project as part of an assignment for their Design Lab I class.

“This Design Lab I course really covers all the bases,” Kornfeld said. “We did a lot of different projects — everything from painting, to making videos and learning how to use certain design software. At the end of each project, we had class critiques where we discussed how we can improve on each of our pieces. This project is a group landmark installation, meaning we have to install some sort of art project anywhere on campus that the people can interact with. Therefore, we created this project.”

The project, titled Landmarking, asked that students come up with their own definition or what a landmark could be. Using this definition, groups then had to devise and design an installation-based piece as a representation. There were no limitations on how the project must be represented, giving limitless possibilities to students.

“I was always familiar with blackout poetry, and so were the other members of my group,” Toepp said. “Blackout poetry is a creative way to make poetry with the words you are given. The requirements for the project were to be creative and create a piece that has an impact on your audience. So we had to choose a place, an audience, and how to speak to that audience. Our blackout poetry calls for our audience to participate in our art.”

Krista Hoefle, professor of Design Lab I, said the course allows students who are interested in art and design the opportunity to explore creative forms of research. This gives students the opportunity to choose how they represent the topic of each project.

Beach echoed these sentiments, saying her goal was to invoke creative expression in participants.

“My group’s goal was to encourage creativity,” Beach said. “Since I am a writer, I wanted to incorporate words in our project. Poetry seemed the best way to go, and blackout poems are an easy and fun way to encourage creative thinking. The professor encouraged the idea of the anthology, and since I have experience with self-publishing, we decided on creating a self-pub book of the poems.”

Students completed their submissions for the “BlackOut Poetry Anthology” the week of Nov. 29. The three students are working on the publishing process of the book — to be available for online purchase at the beginning of the spring semester.

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