Blackout Poetry and Jazz

By Ryosuke '21

Blackout poetry is a creation of a poem from any one page in a book, picking a few words and blacking out the remaining words. I chose pages 20 and 21 from Richard Wagamese's novel Keeper’N Me since I remembered the main character talked about how he likes blues, and that resonated with me because I felt the same in how I loved jazz. I started to collect words like music, a tune, live and formed a poem. Then when I blacked out the words from the book, the black lines looked familiar to me. To me, it looked like a sheet of music. I designed the pages like a music score by writing in a time signature, a tempo, music symbols and notation. I tried to interpret the music side, analyzing how the words have to be pronounced at a certain speed.

After I showed the final to my teacher, Ms. Brown, she asked me to write a tune from the poem. I wrote the tune based on a melody that has a bluestone regarding the original text, and I pulled a famous line from “take five” written by Paul Desmond and put it into ¾ where the take five is 4/5. I intentionally choose “take five” as a line because, in the middle of my poem, I wrote, “Spent too much time listening to old record,” and I wanted to mention the old title I often listen to.

In creating a poem and a tune, I was able to look at the language through the lens of music. I learned that when language and music combine, it can form such a strong message. 
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