By Luca Gross
Members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the Plattsburgh Association of Black Journalists hosted “Blacked Out Poetry” Thursday, March 24 in the HUB at the Angell College Center.
The name of the event is a play on words. Those who attended were given books and a marker with the opportunity to create a poem by crossing out words that will not be used and leaving the rest. Members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity were inspired by another chapter of their organization to host this event.
”The goal of Blacked Out Poetry was to create a space where students could use a fun and creative form of poetry to express themselves and realize the power of words,” David Harris, member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, said.
Poetry is typically written fresh from scratch, escaping the mind onto the paper. However, this exercise was more similar to carving out a poem that was already there.
There was a range of books that students were given the opportunity to use as the base foundation for their poems, one student used a children’s book about the Titanic, a book about acting and others, both fiction and non-fiction.
Each chose whatever page they wanted and got to work. The group worked on their poems separately, but together. Some felt theirs made no sense, others seemed to find it immediately within the paragraphs.
Defacing books and plagiarizing others’ work is often frowned upon in the academic world, but this exercise offered an unorthodox approach to an already relaxing medium. Poetry is a way to speak not what is on your mind, but what is in your heart, how you feel may not always be easy to articulate.
“I resonated with my poem,” Harris said. “It was about the long journey of humanity. How it’s not easy and sometimes it is lonely, however one must overcome their obstacles to elevate and grow.”
Each poem was read aloud by the group. All were obviously different, the books they once were had no correlation to each other, but each had one thing in common, meaning.
“Words connect people emotionally,” Harris said. “Hearing from another person and knowing that person resonates with you allows you to find comfort because you know you are not alone. They allow us to grieve and feel inspired as well as laugh.”
Poetry is not defined by what order words are used, but how those words can sound when read aloud. A whole journey can fit on a page through just one poem. Poems can mean everything, or nothing at all, either way it is coming from someone’s truth. Someone can mean one thing and the reader may receive a different meaning.