Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Make Blackout Poetry by John Carroll (review)

      I originally heard of blackout poetry a few years ago, back around 2015. I heard about it through the author Austin Kleon, in his book Steal Like an Artist. That book is not exclusively about blackout poetry, but Kleon mentions it a few times, as he himself has published a book, Newspaper Blackout, of his blackout poems. When I first heard of blackout poetry, my reaction was something like, "That's so cool! Why didn't I think of that?" 

     My first time actually making blackout poetry came in 2017. A local library, which hosted take-home art projects, gave patrons the supplies necessary to make a blackout poem. The kit even included a frame in which to put your final product. Sweet! I made the following poem,

     Shortly after making the above poem, I ordered the book Make Blackout Poetry by John Carroll from an online bookseller. I enjoyed the concept and process of blackout poetry so much that I could not resist buying the book. Make Blackout Poetry contains various texts, like fairy tale excerpts and dictionary entries, which you then use to make your poems. The paper the book is made of is thick enough to take the abuse of a black permanent marker without bleeding through to the next page. 

     Here is an example of a page I have turned into a blackout poem. The text is an excerpt from Victor Hugo's The Works of Victor Hugo.

     Although I also encourage you to buy used books or bundles of book pages from, say, Ebay or Etsy, I truly think that Make Blackout Poetry is a solid investment for folks looking to start a blackout poetry practice. Furthermore, the book would be fun to bring on a trip, and especially a creative writing retreat. Blackout poetry is a great "warm up" to get your creative juices flowing. If, however, you do not consider yourself a writer, I still think that you could benefit from trying out some blackout poetry. It is fun! Trust me!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

a haiku for you


writing a novel

I should not be dallying 

siren lure of books

Erica with a spell jar, late December 2020

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Fun Things You Can Do for 30 Dollars and Under

Fun Things You Can Do for 30 Dollars and Under

1.) Get a craft kit and/or other craft supplies.

Some stores, such as Five Below, offer craft kits for cheap! I have seen craft kits for macrame, finger knitting, and more. If you do not live near a store that offers craft kits and you would rather buy craft supplies in person, I recommend going to a store that sells what you need. For example, you could visit a local yarn store if you would like to learn to knit or crochet. To start knitting or crocheting, you need yarn (preferably a smooth, worsted weight yarn in a light color), needles or hooks in the right size for the yarn, a yarn needle and a sharp pair of scissors. You also need access to YouTube or another website for knitting and/or crochet tutorials. A guide book may be helpful, too, so check your local library to see if they have any. 

2.) Pamper yourself.

Bath supplies like bath bombs and bath salts are awesome for those of us who enjoy taking baths. If, however, you do not have a bath tub, you can still buy other fun goodies like face masks, shower gel, and conditioning masks for your hair. Some stores like Ulta will have a discounted section with products that are still perfectly good, but may have been discontinued by the company. You can also try discount stores like TJMaxx, Marshall's, and Five Below. If all else fails, try Amazon. You deserve good things that make you happy!

3.) Bake cookies, brownies, and more.

It is always nice to be able to bake some treats for yourself and your loved ones. Some baking supplies are more expensive than others. You will, of course, need some kitchen supplies like an 8" x 8" baking pan, a whisk, and such. You can buy these at stores like TJMaxx and Marshall's for cheaper than Bed Bath and Beyond. I enjoy baking brownies using a pre-made mix from, say, Betty Crocker, because I find it tastes just as delicious as made-from-scratch brownies and is much more convenient. However, I  make cookies, banana bread, muffins, and granola bars from scratch. I caution you against using more exotic ingredients, like almond extract or dried goji berries, before you first see if you enjoy baking in the first place. Do not forget that there are many free recipes online and your local library probably has some cook books with recipes.

4.) Invest in some art supplies.

As you know, I am an artist. I therefore already have a solid stash of art supplies. If you are looking to experiment with making art, I highly recommend you choose a medium (photography, watercolors, etc) that is appealing to you. Collage is a fun, interesting, and fairly cheap medium with which to start. To begin with collage art, I recommend that you go to Etsy and buy a few packs of collage papers (sometimes called ephemera packs). You will also need a glue stick and a substrate onto which you will collage. I recommend buying a pack of blank postcards and/or a small sketchbook. Buy what appeals to you! You can also ask your friends and family for their old magazines. 

5.) Purchase used books, CDs, and DVDs. 

Let yourself be entertained! There are many online and in-person stores where you can buy books, CDs, and DVDs. You will get the most bang for your buck if you buy these items used. Before the pandemic, I used to love to go to GoodWill (a thrift store) to buy books, CDs, and DVDs. Unfortunately, my GoodWill is not open during the pandemic. I still, however, shop for these items in the Sale Annex of my local Barnes & Noble. Besides the Sale Annex of Barnes & Noble, there are both in-person and online used bookstores. You can even buy books used via Amazon.

6.) Take an online class.

I love learning! There are many places online where you can enjoy free college-level classes on a variety of topics. My favorite place for these classes is Coursera. You can take non-academic classes on other websites, like Udemy and Skillshare. These classes are enriching and are usually no more than 20 dollars. Do not forget to Google to see if there are any coupons for the platform at which you are looking. For example, if I want to take a class on Skillshare, I would go to Google and enter "skillshare coupon". 

7.) Donate money.

Self-care is vital to your health and wellness and to the well-being of society in general. However, some people may find themselves with extra money. In lieu of buying something, how about giving 30 dollars to a mutual aid fund, a friend in need, or a local organization like an animal shelter? I recently gave ten dollars to the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge (RBARI). I used to volunteer there extensively in high school and I now crochet cat bedding for them. I can vouch that RBARI will use your money carefully.

A picture of my parrot, Picasso

a poem for this day

New Year’s Eve The new year’s hazy night sky  is upon us and we think  to ourselves  what beauty the future  could hold. Of course we are sc...