Have you heard of blackout poetry? Anyone can be a blackout poet, or an artist at reduction. In yoga teacher training, one of our teachers brought in a book by Austin Kleon called “Steal Like an Artist”. It’s a great book if you need to be inspired. He’s all about leveraging appropriation to find your voice. One of the methods Austin Kleon has come to be known for is blackout poetry.
To write blackout poetry, find an old newspaper or book. Take a big black marker and use it to black out all of the words on the page except a select few that form a sentence or fragment or memory or poem, or whatever language you want to use to describe this.
The method for selecting words varies. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Some people like to start at the beginning of the article, and black out line by line, skipping words they like along the way until they come to the end. Other people like to start in the middle or end and draw rectangles around the words they like, forming a complete thought and then blacking out the negative space around the words once the poem is completed. Some blackout poets get creative and draw a design or graphic that brings additional meaning to the poem in the negative space of the page, rather than blacking it out entirely.
I’ve also seen people do this exercise an opposite way, where they take an old book or textbook and use a colored highlighter to write a poem on a page. One of my art school friends did this in an interactive art exhibition once, where visitors to the art show could make their own poem anywhere in an old textbook. At the end of the night, he had a nice collection of crowdsourced anonymous poetry.
This is my blackout poetry for today!