Black out poetry is the idea of “destroying” a piece of literary work in order to create a new expression of words. When you explore all you can do with a page of text and a black marker you may be surprised at the inspiration you find.
Austin Kleon is the man behind black out poetry. He’s been dubbed New York Times bestselling author thrice, and continues to expand our imaginations with his work. What is black out poetry you ask? Well it reminds me of magnetic poetry everyone seems to have on their refrigerators: random word magnets that anyone could string together to create a sentence, phrase or poem. However black out poetry uses the process of elimination to create a masterpiece. It’s when you take a piece of text (usually another author’s work) and you outline the words that strike you, while blacking out all the other clutter. Clearing out the space and purging what is unnecessary for your piece of art. The result can resemble a crossword puzzle and the process can be more like a word search.
This style of poetry can help combat writers block, as well as infuse creativity you wouldn’t otherwise have embraced. This process is also therapeutic for the soul and helpful for stress relief.
What you need.
You need a piece of written work either from a newspaper, magazine, or book as well as a black marker, crayon, or paint (and paintbrush). My suggestion is to not read the original work, but merely scan for words that bring meaning and clarity to you. This way you won’t be influenced by the original author’s ideas. Draw a rectangle around the words that stand out for you and erase everything else. Your poem reads left to right or from top to bottom. Consider it a coloring project and use the monotony as a healing tool.
The result is visually pleasing and can sometimes be the best poetry you’ve ever generated. Some poets will add a flare of color by using the black as a board to add visuals, patterns and images. The possibilities are endless.
In life and in business it is necessary to clear out all the things that do not serve you. You may need a physical spring cleaning or a mental clearing of the mind. The process of letting go can teach you about yourself. Take the time this week to make your own black out poetry.