Blackout poetry - upcycling book pages with whimsy | the ReFab Diaries

Happy Sunday! This post is about a whimsical way to repurpose book pages. But first, a little reflection on the value of whimsy.

“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” - Mary Oliver

I've done both, and now I can see how they're related. Have you ever lost your whimsy? In "Where's my Whimsy?",  Rachel Glaser reflects on her loss:

I had so much whimsy
I had too much whimsy
ask my lovers
I was light
I laughed
I lit up at strangers' dogs
and funny names ...

it was partly my birthday
my hair curled with glee
I twisted with happiness
in the back seat of cabs

any despair fit well with the whimsy
powered the whimsy ... 
I even liked the despair
besides, the future held whimsy...
love ended in despair but pushed me to the next 
there was so much whimsy in each beginning
I let it rule me

....Friends called in despair and I lent them whimsy

gradually, despair mixed with whimsy 
and cancelled out like numbers
there was a cool balance... 
there was a distance
where there was whimsy before
there was now a... sad mona lisa smile
with braces of despair

I see the whimsy trapped in a girl's ring
I saw it in a photo shoot on the train tracks
I have an eye for it
I'm not a stranger to it
but once it tittled out of me 
I dispensed it like candies
it carnivaled around me

Why am I going on about this? Because I read Rachel Glaser's poem in a bookstore on Christmas eve in 2014. And it took the wind out of me - I found myself wanting to weep for the loss of my whimsy. It never really went away, of course, but I did stop valuing it. And Mary Oliver is right, of course. It has value.

Which brings me to the Blackout Poetry - my most recent outlet for my whimsy, and also a really fun way to turn a page from a book into a very different thing. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the poems!

I'm using pages from Only Revolutions by Mark Danielewski. His first novel, House of Leaves, is a cult-favorite. Only Revolutions takes the experiment 10 steps further in a story about teenage lovers Hailey and Sam. The book is printed on two sides--one side tells the story from Hailey's point of view, flip it over and you get Sam's side (literally). Hailey and Sam are wild, wayward and never grow old. With an evolving stable of cars, they move through various places and moments in time as they try to outrace history. It's a mind-bending mix of poetry and stream of consciousness prose. 

I bought the book about 5 years ago for 99c. And I bought it for its incredible cover (above). I did try to read it but found it tiresome. Nevertheless, I hung on to it for its twisty poetry! And in the last 10 days or so, I've taken a lot of delight in finding it. Here are my efforts so far.

Meandering Walnut and Hyacinth 
Huckleberry honelickling for more,
blooming, ripe.
Clawings up
new hope seethes with gnashing teeth

I pick him up
surrendering nothing
That's a beginning
Monarchs wake too
No big deal

I happily untangle my hair
I'm the tangle of every dare

A kindness never outrun
stalking me 
daring me
because all around me 
the world rebegins
curving and dazzling

my serenity wipes out disaster
with laughter
I bring a shoeless pirouette 
He bows

A fork ahead.
I take both.

I offer my hand which starnit
he blushingly yanks
He doesn't weight much
but I'm glad for his touch.

Liberty! The second most
misconstrued of human aims.
- Wha'z the first?
- Love.

Petals twirling my hair.
Feet bare.
I dive
Swirling the World and ground
Around and around.

Nothing frantics me.
I'm ever here. Allways unavailable.

I veer another way
Rivers wild with rainbows.

She's flabbergasted by my charitable charms,
So I kiss her dirty cheek.

Pulling my moon
over summer.
Head first,
round after round billowy seasons
all hooked.

She spins for kisses,

feathers flirt gently,
and discover the worth of

The most courageous

Keyed up
by a stranger I cannot meet
but must seek.
Nothing to lose except
his smile.

Love is
walking the wire.

Love is a root
to a ground

I can walk away.
Everyone loves but I leap free
with a spin on
bare feet.
Why don't I have any shoes?

Do I depart undisturbed 
Delay to love only ruins?

planes and
balloons drifting

What light the moon 
speaks yet she says nothing.
Her discourses shame stars,
so bright that birds sing
and think it not night.

More to come on Instagram! While you're there, search #blackoutpoetry and #blackoutpoem to see lots of wonderful examples. PS: all you need to do this are markers and/or paint pens.

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