Blackout Poetry are creative works in which selected words from a source text (a newspaper article or a page from a novel)are deliberately ‘blacked out’ in order to create a poem.
In other words, blackout poets use erasure to find poetry in unconventional source material. And while this practice was popularized by Beat poets and Dadaists in the 20th century, some of the earliest examples of blackout poetry date back to the 1700s.
This activity allows you to try your hand at making some blackout poetry, using a social media post as your source material.
- Hop on a social media platform of your choice and scroll through your feed. Select a post to use as your source text. It can be your own post or from someone you follow. It can be random, or something that you deliberately search for and select. Look for a post that wants you to dig into it, to erase it, to transform it into your own poetry.
- Screenshot the post and open the image in the image editor of your choice (Photoshop, MS Paint, etc).
- Using the image editor, black out portions of the text and/or image to create your own poem.
- The erasures you make can be a deliberate commentary on the content of the original post, or they can be unrelated. But make an effort to recontextualize the words and images, and really make them your own.
Here’s an example I cooked up for you. I used a tweet from Elon Musk as my source text.
many people like me,
im no loser.
While it could certainly be read as a critique of Musk’s desperate need to be liked, I think the poem also expresses the reason behind so many of our posts—they’re desperate, public pleas for reassurance that we matter.