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Recently I was introduced to a form of poetry that was new to me called blackout poetry. Also called erasure or redacted poetry. I thought this would be a perfect technique to use when writing about adoption because of the redactions and erasures that we are subjected to as adopted persons. Redactions in our records and erasures of our identity being chief among them.

According to, “Great blackout poetry can be short or long, abstract or concrete, linear or lateral. Well-crafted blackout poetry pages give new meanings to old texts, and the interplay of those texts often creates new and surprising meanings.” It dates all the way back to the days of Benjamin Franklin. (Read more about Blackout Poetry and see examples here.)

I decided that I would like to give blackout poetry a try and that I would do it using adoption records, adoption literature/propaganda, and books about adoption. I’ve competed 2 blackout poems so far and I am really enjoying the challenge that this artistic form gives me, but also very pleased with my results so far.

Here is the first of my redacted poems titled RE: Adoption of Infant. This poem comes from a letter written during the planning stages of my own adoption, to my adoptive parents from their lawyer, before I was even born. Hopefully you will be able to see and feel the stark difference in advice that is given in my poem as opposed to the legal advice that was being given in the letter.

Graphic of poem titled RE: Adoption of Infant

RE: Adoption of Infant

this is to confirm
this woman’s condition

this child will be born
into an adoption petition

this should cause you
great concern

you will be obligated to
the child;
the natural mother;
the father.

naturally, hesitate.

Original poem by Jamie Weiss

Copies of the legal letter used for blacking out and creating the poem

I would love to hear what you think! Have you ever tried blackout poetry yourself?

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