Gordon Square Review

Lit Cleveland Launches Blackout Poetry Anthology For The Eclipse

On Friday, April 5, 2023, Literary Cleveland’s Gordon Square Review literary journal published an online special issue of blackout poetry tied to the solar eclipse.

Blackout poetry is created by blacking out or covering a pre-existing text to create poetry with the remaining words. In the same way the moon covers the sun during an eclipse, blackout poetry uses erasure of an existing text to reveal something new.

After receiving more than 150 submissions for the Blackout Poetry Contest, Gordon Square Review editors narrowed the pool to 15 finalists, and local poet Alyssa Perry selected the winner and two runners up. The winner received a $500 prize, and all 15 finalists, including the winner and runners up, are all being published this Friday ahead of the eclipse. Of the 15 finalists published, 10 are northeast Ohio poets. 

Gordon Square Review Editor-in-Chief Jason Harris says of the special issue, “blackout poetry – also referred to as erasure poetry – when crafted well creates new meaning, a meaning that may not have been present in the found text.” In this special issue, we hear from a wide range of voices on a wide range of topics – from remote work to climate change; from a fool’s spell to new beginnings; from Lake Erie to Palestine. Building the Blackout Poetry issue, Harris says, “was exciting because I not only had to consider the strength of the individual blackout poem, but also how the source texts may or may not speak to one another in the larger issue.” 

Winning Blackout Poem

The winning blackout poem is “Be Kind 2 Her” by Lisa Turner. Turner uses ripped out images of sky, buildings, and home to cover the source text, “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton. Judge Alyssa Perry writes: “The poem itself becomes a shelf for “rearranging” the “misunderstood routes,” opening out dimensions of meaning — which is to say, the poem has reached a hard-won understanding and moves with great grace beyond it.”

Additional Literary Eclipse Events 

In addition to the special issue, Literary Cleveland is hosting a staged reading on Saturday, April called “The Gift of Darkness.” Four local actors will perform work by 20 local authors on the theme of awe as it relates to the eclipse as part of the Cleveland Humanities Festival. The reading features poems, essays, and short dramatic pieces on Orpheus and Heraklitos, dimes and dark matter, luna moths and birthing universes, and the Princess of Darkness and a Campbell’s Soup God. Individually, the unique voices bring to life humor and horror, love and loss, the past and the future, and what joy can be found in sorrow. Together they help us consider the gift of darkness. The event takes place at 1pm at the Cleveland Public Library. Free tickets are available at https://www.litcleveland.org/events-programs/the-gift-of-darkness 

Gordon Square Review

Gordon Square Review (GSR), a publication of Literary Cleveland, is a literary journal published online biannually to showcase emerging writers nationwide and internationally, award editing mentorships, and provide a venue to spotlight Northeast Ohio writers. You can read the special issue, and past issues, on Gordon Square Review’s website: http://www.gordonsquarereview.org/ 

Literary Cleveland

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.

Media Contacts:

Matt Weinkam

Executive Director, Literary Cleveland



Jason Harris

GSR Editor-in-Chief