Happy Poetry Month! Have you been doing anything exciting to celebrate?
I have recently discovered Newspaper Blackout Poems. These are an exercise in creative fun invented by Austin Kleon, a writer who lives in Austin, Texas, in the real world, and lives at www.austinkleon.com on the Internet. Last year, Kleon put out a book of poems he created from newspapers by circling the words he liked and blacking out the rest of the paper around them. This is an interesting exercise in creating something of your own using a preexisting text. Like Michelangelo, freeing his sculptures from the stone, Kleon says:
Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout poems are visually interesting with their stark black on newsprint contrast, and quirky in the variety of topics he finds to bring to life. He writes about everything from teenagers on mars, to ninja chauffeurs, to borrowing the family car and trying to meet girls. In the back of the book there is a section of Newspaper Blackout poems written by other people, and instructions for how to make your own. The basic idea is this: get a newspaper, get a marker, and make a poem. There are a few more detailed guidelines: if you get stuck you might want to give yourself a time limit, or choose a specific space on the page, but these things are up to you. The invitation to be creative comes with few instructions and is presented in a friendly way. Kleon even invites you to share your poems on his website. There is a place to submit them as images here.
In addition to the book, there are more poems, horoscopes, and other interesting things on Kleon’s website, including this great essay on making art: “How to Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other things Nobody Told Me). So check out the book, check out the website, and try your hand at making your own Newspaper Blackout poem.
-Erin Daly, currently reading All Clear by Connie Willis