How to Create Blackout Poetry

by Liz

Blackout poetry, a type of found poetry, involves taking previously published print-work, and redacting everything out of the piece except the words to be taken together as a poem. When artfully rendered, the negative space of the poem usually includes sketches, doodles, and drawings that are thematically and logistically useful to the understanding of the poem.

Step 1: find a piece of print-work that is available for your poetic repurposing. The more expressive and colorful words dotting the page, the more likely it will yeild a useful starting point.

Step 2: on a separate piece of paper, make a list of potential words in the order that they appear on the page. Maybe an unnecessary step, it’s very useful in getting a strong poem. This way you can experiment with options without making a permanent mark on the page.

Step 3: select the words of the poem. Blackout poems are not typically more than one page, and often stick with a single concept.

Step 4: pop the words of your poem out from the page. I like to use a black sharpie, though I have used colored sharpies and pens before.

Step 5: take down all the words that are not the poem with any level of artistry you choose

To celebrate reaching 14 Patrons on Patreon, I’m sending all of my current patrons on Patreon an original blackout poem. I’m also going to teach my dear friend’s daughters how to do blackout poetry during one of their afternoons of homeschool next week. Blackout poetry is a fun exercise in creativity, it doesn’t need to take a lot of time, and the art can be as simple or extravagant as your interest and skill set. It’s a great way for beginners and young people to investigate their poetic and drawing interests.

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