White-Out/Black-Out Poetry

Biblical Text: Jeremiah 28
Guidelines for Individual Playdates

Value of This Activity:

An opportunity to leave rationality behind and play with words, “just because.” (It’s a PLAY-date, after all.)

Items Needed:

Pen and Paper. If you wish, a printed copy of the biblical text, and some office “White Out.”

To Begin . . .

Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.

How to Play . . .

  1. Read Jeremiah 28.
  2. If you have a computer, print out a copy of this text of Jeremiah 28 from BibleGateway.com. Or, if you prefer, type out the text and print it out.
  3. The idea of this playdate is for you to create a poem out of “random” words selected from the text. The most important thing to know is that the poem does not need to be a good poem. The second most important thing to know is that it’s more fun if you actually play with it. Choose odd words that you don’t think belong together. Be random. Make your poem surprise you. (The poem does not need to have any discernible relation to the narrative of Jeremiah 28. Be random!)
    There are many ways you can select your words. Here are three:

    • You can circle words and then copy those words over to another sheet of paper.
    • You can use your pen or a marker to “black out” words you don’t want to choose, leaving the selected words you do want to select.
    • You can “white out” words you don’t want to choose, leaving the words you want to select.

The fun of the final two options is that, when you’re done, the ‘original text’ now presents your poem for a reader to discover for themselves.

You may leave your poem “hidden” inside the marked text, or write out your poem on a separate sheet of paper.

Here’s a sample I created from Luke 5:12-16. See, it’s a bad poem. But it can be fun to play with the words. Set your mind free. Play!
white-out_black-out sample

Some Adaptations:

  1. Scramble your selected words to create a wholly different poem, with a different feel, a different “meaning,” or just a different visual pattern.
  2. Combine random words from the biblical text with random words selected from an article in today’s newspaper or newsfeed. Make a poem out of those words.

In Closing . . .

Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.

Playdate Reference Material:

Guidelines for Individual Playdates
Playdates with Scripture ARCHIVES

Creative Commons License
Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at virginiawiles.com.