Blackouts and Centos

Ms. Widman

High School Creative Writing 


This week the students at Amundsen had fun making their own blackout poems and centos. We talked about source texts and how the language of certain writings (food reviews, music reviews, reportage) lends themselves better to poetic adaptation. We looked at the work of Austin Kleon for blackout inspo. The students were then tasked with writing two poems: a blackout and a cento. They had a blast and it was amazing to see what they created. The source texts were back issues of Virginia Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly, and The Los Angeles Review. I’m delighted to publish the following poets!




After Robin Ekiss

by Alberto C.


War hidden inside

like first knowledge

of women.






My Best Friend, My Blood

by Koraima A.


Do you know that poem, Ma’am?

Mr. Rodriquez whispers while I examine a weirdo at midlife.

I live for my visits to the gynecologist.

Accompanied by my new best friend,

she’s a constant between my legs.

Her redness makes me shiver.

My reddening face

quivering in my hoodie,

cold despite my best friend’s presence.

A fake waterfall painted on the front wall.

Push the prone figure through double doors.

An ancient woman, her face pale and horrifically wrinkled.

She binds me to mount the table.

I’ve turned cold waiting for my doctor,

a dead person, which I might be soon.





A Cento (after R.T. Smith)

by Gianna O.


Our captive claimed he tried

to ease the boy over. Suffer

the little children. Everybody

gets baptized in the blood.

It’s out of my hands.

The sky is rank and smudged

with their aftermath.

Thin as crickets, mean

as hornets, but twice as busy, we

had flanked him at Dalton, 

stood our ground in Kennesaw’s inferno.


Grime-faced night followed

poised like a  prisoner, no matter

how addled  or inept.







A Blackout 

by Octavia C.


I                                                               wished

                                                                                                         I felt




The fact that 


                               I haven’t been able to write at all.


I’m sorry to say I’m hardly equal

to the responsibility of appreciating such things.


I        utter                  these words


perfectly sincere in the sentiments.


Is it something destined?


Ah, yes.                                                               I admire

                                                                                                                                                       almost no one.






A Blackout

by Alex F.




                               fell away








I                                                                                              wasn’t






A Blackout (Covered in Hearts)

by Paola R.


Some way









was                                near.




“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.