Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Newspaper Blackout Poems

from Carla at the English Teacher blog

In a reverse of the found poem, Austin Kleon writes blackout poems. He is even sponsoring a contest on writing Newspaper Blackout Poems at his blog, Austin Kleon.

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

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