The idea is to start with a newspaper article — the one in the contest is a tragic story from August 1908 — and a black marker. Mark out everything except the words that will form a poem. If necessary, connect words with white space.
As long as you or students mark copies and not books, a blackout poem could be a great way to respond to reading both fiction and nonfiction.
Kleon points out, “What you are doing when making a blackout poem, in the words of Allen Ginsberg, is ’shopping for images.’”
- What words stand out in this piece? (Kleon recommends a focus on nouns and verbs.)
- What connections do you see between these words and other words or phrases in the piece?
- What conclusions can you draw/summary can you compose/theme do you see?
Sample blackout poems from Kleon’s site:
- A blackout poem based on Rachel Carson’s “A Fable for Tomorrow” from Silent Spring
- A blackout poem based on the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet”
- A blackout poem based on an author’s biography