Try This: Newspaper Blackout

Monday, February 07, 2022
I admit to holding on to the ridiculous belief that engaging in playful, no-destination creative activities are “wasting time.” But when I do let myself work on creative projects, it ends up feeling like time well spent. There is always a payoff, whether it’s inspiration to create more things, a therapeutic benefit or just having fun.

I’ve recently been revisiting Austin Kleon's books, and decided to try some newspaper blackout poetry. If you’re not familiar with this, you choose a section of a newspaper article (though I tend to prefer a magazine piece), and use a marker to cover everything except the words you want to remain shown. It’s an enjoyable creative exercise that can result in interesting outcomes.

I’m sharing two very simple and short ones I made last week, as examples. These are more on the personal/inspirational side, though blackout poetry can be whatever you want.

The three-word one could apply to a number of things, but to me it felt like a hopeful message about my potential contributions to the writing world, which I sometimes doubt. So, doing this type of redacted poetry can be just for yourself, about anything you want.

Newspaper blackouts are just one of the types of exercises that I do in my journal, with others that are equally satisfying. Maybe you’d like to give this or something else new a try. It will be worth it.

-Marcia Peterson


Cathy C. Hall said...

I've never seen this but it does remind me of "found word" poetry, a similar concept. It's a fun and creative way to play with words and ideas and sometimes that's just what we need to get our writing going. Thanks for sharing yours, Marcia!

Theresa Boedeker said...

This looks fun. And you ever quite know what you will end up with. It also reminds me of cutting words out of a newspaper and using them to compose a card to someone.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I learned this as a way to write blackout poetry. I'm not going to claim any level of brilliance, but it is fun. It can be a great way to loosen up and get into your writing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Marcia! This is such a fun exercise I've always wanted to try. I LOVE your inspirational poems--especially the last line of your first one, "if I love it, I'm gonna." That's so great!

Do you use marker to blackout the text? That's a lot of marker! I bet the act of marking it out is meditative though. :)

Marcia Peterson said...

Yes, it's done with markers. After trial and error I'm now using two sizes of Sharpie pens: one fine point to circle the chosen words, and then a big chisel tip one to cover/fill all the area that needs to be blacked out.

I'm trying to have the patience it takes to be careful, since I've ruined some by getting ink on parts of the words I wanted to keep. It's fun to do though!

Renee Roberson said...

This sounds like such a cool exercise! I'm going to grab some old magazines in my stash and give it a try. Thanks for sharing with us.

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