Tully’s AP Lit Classes Become Poets

Mrs. Tully's AP Lit Classes Explore Creativity Through Blackout and Book Spine Poetry

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On Friday, May 10, 2019, Mrs. Tully’s AP Literature classes relaxed in the library after completing their AP test on the 8th. Tully tasked them with two poetry activities: Book Spine Poetry and Blackout Poetry. To create Book Spine Poetry, students stacked books on top of each other.  Read from top to bottom, students created a poem with the titles on the spines. For this assignment, she asked them to create poems based on a novel or play read during the school year. To prepare for the Blackout Poetry activity, Mrs. Tully cut pages from To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Frankenstein. Each student chose a page of text to create an original Blackout Poem, constructed by selecting words or phrases to be read from top to bottom as a poem, while blacking out everything else on the page. Students used Sharpies, markers, and crayons, and many chose to express their creativity with color and design.  Head Librarian Mrs. Murfee helped with the assignment and provided some history on the traditions. American artist Nina Katchadourian invented Book Spine Poetry to encourage more people to read. After the history lesson, Mrs. Tully released the students to design their poetry.

The book spine poetry came first. Mrs. Murfee spread out options for the students to compose their poetry, providing every type of book from biographies to science fiction. From there, the literature students began stacking the books.  Chloe Naughton’s read: “A Good Idea/ The Anatomy of Curiosity/ Faceless/Harmless/ Banished/ Alienated,” which spoke about the creature in Frankenstein. A caveat of the assignment compelled students to tie their poems to pieces read in class, such as: The Crucible, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Great Gatsby, and many more.

For the Blackout Poetry, the students had more freedom, as they could write about whatever they wanted. Since the torn pages of the poems originated from Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill A Mockingbird, many of the poems reflected  the books’ darker themes. Zowie Geng wrote about a couple struggling through their relationship, explaining,  “The words came first, the ideas came second.” The students took the liberty of decorating the pages as well, designing cars, windows, and faces to match the poems. Abi Allums surprised herself, saying, “I actually enjoyed the Blackout Poetry more than I thought I would.” Some students had so much fun, they made more than the one required for the class.

Finally, the literature students uploaded their completed works to a slideshow, combining the entire class’ poetry. Mrs. Tully asked the students to provide an explanation and background knowledge for their pieces. She will later  laminate the pieces and decorate her classroom. Many students enjoyed the small project, surprising themselves with a well deserved break after a long academic year.