Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blackout Poetry

I’ve heard of turning books into clocks and using them to make lamps, but I’ve never seen them recycled in such a creative way as I’ve recently discovered. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed late one night and ran across an image that made me pause. Three words stood out surrounded by black marker: You. Are. Loved. 

What about this simple sentence stopped me? Well first it was the marker, and then I noticed that the words weren’t lined up as they should be, they were scattered across the image as if they’d been picked off a page at random. 
It turns out that’s exactly what happened. I had stumbled upon a quickly growing art from known as Blackout Poetry. This art form takes recycling a book to the next level by using a previously written piece of text and turning it into a poem all its own. Blackout poetry is being popularized by two individuals, Austin Kleon and John Carroll. These two artists have really made blackout poetry popular and their websites are worth a look, I’ll post links at the end of this post if you’d like to see what they are up to.

What I love about blackout poetry is the message that these two individuals are trying to share through it, messages of hope and of creativity. That’s not to say you can’t use it to create something funny or serious. I wholeheartedly recommend you do whatever you want with it, just have fun. 

Another thing I love about it is that it is simple for anyone to do, all you need is an old book, newspaper, or magazine and a sharpie. Once you’ve got your supplies all you have to do is open up the book (newspaper, ect.) and scan it for words or lines of text that pop out to you on the page. All that’s left to do is outline those words and black out the rest of the text. What you’re left with is a poem done in one of the most creative ways I’ve seen. 

Now I know that there are people out there who don’t like to write poetry, maybe it’s difficult for you to write or you can never think of a good idea, I know for me it’s both of those. Blackout poetry makes creating poetry fun. I say creating because you’re not really writing it, you are creating it based on words that have already been written. 
I had my writing group do this as an in group activity the other day and even the few that were steadfastly against poetry had a blast with this project. One even ended up creating more blackout poems than the rest of us. So just because poetry ‘isn’t your thing’ don’t discount the fun of making blackout poetry. Give it a try and tell me what you thought of it.

~ Dawn

Austin Kleon’s website:
John Carroll’s website:

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