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Blackout Poetry Project

This community project offers a chance to interact with and reinterpret Emily Post's rules of etiquette. Participants will engage with her iconic work, updating her rules using new media and visual expression to say something entirely new. After each stunning, idiosyncratic, vibrant, haunting or hilarious page is made, we will gather them into a new collection of poetry and art that could only have been made by our community.

Collectively, our community will reshape Emily Post’s rules of etiquette.


This is a project where we'll be making blackout poems directly on the pages of Etiquette. A blackout poem in its simplest form needs only a page and a marking tool (pencil, marker, correction pen, etc.) You hide some words to make a poem out of what is left behind. You can stop there, or you can take it further and add some art!


Take one of the pages from our pile in the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center or other locations around campus. We'll have some art supplies in the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center (Wright Hall), or visit the Design Thinking Initiative (Capen Annex) and explore their trove of materials!


Everyone is welcome to participate! Whether you're a student, faculty, staff, an alum, or just stopping in, we'd love for you to contribute to this project! By participating in this project, participants agree to allow their work to be posted on BDPC social media, and later assembled into a collection that will be housed in the Mortimer Rare Books collection at the library.


We'll be collecting these all year, through June 1, 2024!

Emily Who?

Emily Post was born Emily Bruce Price on October 27, 1872. The author of five novels as well as newspaper articles and travelogues, she is most well known for 1922's Etiquette in Business, in Society, in Politics and at Home, commonly shortened to Etiquette. Etiquette was once considered the foremost manual on manners and customs, selling almost 300,000 copies annually by 1946. There's no exact modern point of comparison to Post— she was an influencer before we used the word that way; a little bit Martha Stewart, a little bit Oprah, and a little bit Gwyneth Paltrow all rolled into one. While some of Post's advice may still be relevant, a lot of it now feels out of step with 21st century values around money, formality, gender roles, race, and class.Etiquette is still in print, now in its 19th edition (2017). Since 1965, the book has been continually edited by Post's descendants (the current editors are her great-great-grandchildren!) It's always evolving, and today's edition strives to be a more inclusive text.

The Process

The Boutelle-Day Poetry Center and the Design Thinking Initiative will have stations with pages from Etiquette and a variety of materials available for creating your own responses. We plan to display them outside of the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center in Wright Hall (and occasionally feature them on Instagram), and when everything is done, put the pages back together to create a whole new document.

This project is open to the Smith community and visitors to the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center.


  • Choose one side of the page to hold your primary design.
  • By participating in this project, participants agree to allow their work to be posted on social media, and assembled into an object that will be housed in the Mortimer Rare Books collection at the library.
  • If you wish to be credited, please write your name legibly on the back. (If you want us to tag you on instagram, please include your IG handle!)
  • What you do to alter the text is up to you! Here are some strategies to get you thinking:
    Cover words or blank space with whiteout pen or tape, marker, colored pencil, cut/torn paper, washi tape, images from books or magazines, string, embroidery, photos or film negatives, buttons, beads, dried & sealed plant material.
  • Please take no more than 2 pages; we want to have enough for everyone!
  • Please put completed pages on the paper tray or windowsill in the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center so we can collect them.


Past Projects

The Blackout Poetry Project began in 2022 as the Common Reassemble. Explore the past projects and submissions.

Spring 2023

The Smith community spent time peering into the work of the poet Emily Dickinson, then engaged with words in the spirit of play, reworking her canonical language using new media and visual expression to say something entirely new.

Explore the submissions

Spring 2022

Last spring, the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center, in collaboration with the Design Thinking Initiative, launched CTRL + WALT + DELETE, our inaugural Common Reassemble project, which invited students, staff, faculty, alums, and members of the wider community to engage with pages from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass using a variety of artistic and poetic techniques. The thrilling pages you made offered fragments of Whitman surrounded by gorgeous drawings, swirls of color, magazine clippings, beads, photographs, stickers, and even repurposed wasp nests. You turned pages of poetry into canvases, and made Whitman’s words and barbaric yawps become something utterly new.

Explore the submissions

Project Examples

Check out some examples of submissions from the Emily Dashes Common Reassemble in 2023.