Finding Creativity in Unexpected Places: Blackout Poetry

Are you having trouble finding that creative spark? Are you cursed with writer’s block every time you sit in front of your open notebook or computer? Are you losing originality in your work and are desperately trying to get back to the basics? Well, Austin Kleon had these similar problems. By accident, in a case of intense writer’s block, Kleon invented the creative phenomenon known as blackout poetry.

Blackout poetry can be created using any form of printed word (books, newspapers, magazines, etc.), and forming poetic sentences or thoughts with random words throughout the text. Kleon started this form of poetry by playing with newspaper articles; he circled words he liked and scratchedout words he didn’t like. Afterwards, Kleon started to make coherent sentences from these words, and blacking out the rest of the page, hence the name.

Some examples of blackout poetry:

So, when writer’s block gets you down or you can’t seem to find the motivation to create, try this stimulating exercise. Pick out certain words in a body of text that really stick out to you and go from there. Here are links to a few excellent websites with more examples of blackout poetry and about the creator, Austin Kleon:

http://www.austinkleon.com/

http://newspaperblackout.com/
http://www.blackoutpoetry.net/

Happy creating!

Katie Montgomery

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Stream of Consciousness

Dr. Beasley’s classes were always full. For twenty years, he taught at the same high school that he graduated from. Everyone wanted to take one of his eclectic courses in which the only textbook you used were black and white photocopies of his notes on legal paper. He used any and every method to teach other than lecturing from a powerpoint. These included hundreds of bouncy balls flying across the room, and psychoanalyzing Mean Girls. My favorite activity happened every Friday. On this last day of the week, he would bring to class his old tape player. While he played anything from AC/DC to Bach, the class would silently gather their thoughts on notebook paper for around twenty minutes. Dr. Beasley called this our “stream of consciousness.” It didn’t matter if you were in his Civics, Economics, or Psychology class- this was on the lesson plan. Of course, this activity had no relevance to what we were learning. However, it is a valuable activity that helps to clear the mind- a sort of meditation for writers. Anything could be written down on the paper- a drawing, a  poem, an explanation of what you were going to do that weekend. On the other hand, you could write about your concerns and worries- something that happened in your personal life that you couldn’t tell anyone about, but needed to think through. Today, in my life as a college senior with never-ending worries and tasks, writing a “stream of consciousness” has helped me to maintain my sanity. I may not remember the inner-workings of the stock market, but this activity was one that has stayed with me as I passed through various stages of my life.

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Post by: Beth Manley