Collage Poetry

By Vanessa Borjon

I recently brought in a collage poetry writing curriculum to my groups in Back of the Yards and South Shore. My students had been having a difficult time finding a way to put their words to paper, so I thought an opportunity to use appropriated and lifted language to piece together a poem could help with the writer’s block. The results were gorgeous. 

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I brought in this activity with my students at Sinclair, Second Chance and Sullivan House. We started the group with a poem by Luis Javier Rodriguez, a writer from Chicago. After short discussion and getting the mind inspired, I gave each participant a few print-outs of random words and phrases, brightly colored cardstock, and their new ‘pens’: scissors and glue.  

At first, some of my students were confused. How am I supposed to write a poem using random words?I told them to think of the poem as a puzzle—you just have to put the pieces together. This helped, and by the end of the group, although each person used a combination of the same lifted words and language, what made each poem unique was the decision making put into how the ‘puzzle’ of the poem would come to life. I share some here with you, and hope you too see how these poems speak volumes. 

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