Try Blackout Poetry to Spark Creativity

Credit: Amazon

Today I’m offering this wonderful guest post by freelance writer Bridget Sandorford:

Your muse is late, or she’s just not home.  Maybe she’s caught in traffic.  Maybe she’s on maternity leave.  Whatever the reason, you’re at a loss for words.

The advice, then, “Write to be more creative,” rings a bit hollow.  The wonderful thing about blackout poetry is that the poems are already written for you.  You just have to find them and, in so doing, find your muse.

Blackout poetry is a dramatic and modern style of poetry heavily dependent on the chosen medium—newspapers, magazine articles, the classifieds—and most of all on the poet’s mood and keen eyes.  The Wall Street Journal calls it a sort of Rorschach of poems, referring to author of Newspaper Blackout (Harper Perennial) Austin Kleon.

“He sees interesting words within the larger ink-on-paper dispatches about health care reform or the war on terrorism,” reports the WSJ staff, “and creates poems by using a magic marker to isolate them.”  Check out this slideshow featuring WSJ stories and Kleon’s ability to find poetry in anything.

For some more inspiration, have a look at the book’s companion website, Newspaper Blackout, wherein anyone can upload a scan of his or her blackout poem to share with the world.

Next, have a go at your own blackout poem.

  1. Grab a newspaper or an old book you don’t mind writing in and a thick marker.  You can even use your iPad, although I wouldn’t recommend writing on it in marker.
  2. Find a couple of words on the page that draw your attention.  Circle them.  Find other words to form a short poem.  Generally, even blackout poems are read top-down, but you can break this rule by drawing arrows, lines, and other indicators to point the readers’ eyes in the right direction.  Make designs or draw a related picture to the poem and black out everything else with the marker.
  3. If you’re using an iPad, Kleon has some great ideas here.

Bio: Aside from school and working part-time as an Assistant Chef, Bridget Sandorford is the resident Culinary Schools blogger where recently she’s been researching culinary colleges in Arkansas as well as culinary colleges in Georgia. Her passion for food is only met with her passion for writing. She lives outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

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3 Responses to “Try Blackout Poetry to Spark Creativity”

  1. 1 tenacioustraveller August 27, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I find that when my muse is staging a strike, it helps to find someplace where no one can hear me and speak whatever comes. Sometimes it’s more like word soup, or a rant (and in this case I often feel like a maniac for talking to myself) but sometimes I get into a rhythm and something comes out that’s more like a poetry slam poem. Then, when I go back inside, my muse has usually decided she can cross the picket lines.

    • 2 stranglingmymuse August 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Great idea! Speaking out loud can really change the way we hear words, and I love the way you take it to a poetry slam rhythm! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


  1. 1 Surf’s Up, Condensed: Top Creativity Links for September 1, 2011 « Creative Liberty Trackback on September 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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