How to: Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry is a form of ‘appropriation art’ which means that you take something that already exists and either put it in different context or manipulate it in someway that
makes the viewer think of it in as brand new. You are taking witting that you haven’t written and changing it in order to make something new and unique out of it. You take a page from a piece of writing and you blackout most of the words leaving only a few: creating a wonderful poem!

Blackout poetry is also used as a creative exercise, when you find yourself with some writers block this is a great exercise to get your creative juices flowing. I find it extremely beautiful as you can take an already written piece with an already definite message and you can flip it up side down making something just as powerful.

Everything you will need:

  • Some sort of text: either an old book that screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-16-54-51has been neglected on your shelf. Or if it hurts your little bookworm heart to ruin a book use newspaper, that way you will have fresh material to work with every single day!
  •  A pen or a pencil to mark/plan out your poem
  •  Any medium that will  blackout the text except the words you want to leave out. This can range from a standard black permeant market to watercolour and acrylic paint.


1. You can either flip to a page or actually select a scene/dialogue that you particularly enjoyed depending on your preference. Just remember to not fully read the passage first because then you will become too immersed in the original text and it will be difficult for you to come up with a new message.

2. Scan the words as pure and valuable raw material. You have to comb through the words on the page and find the ones that jump out to you. You can either mark as you go or if you would like to plan you poem ahead just take a sheet of paper and write the words there.

3. Finally once you have arranged a poem you can start the blacking out process. This is up screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-16-55-28to your personal preference: there are absolutely no boundaries! Try everything out and find what works best for you. I personally enjoy using a permanent black marker as well as black acrylic paint. I also tried using some watercolour to show you what it would look like.

4. That’s it! You have a finished poem and you feel like a real poet ready to take on the world of literature! I have honestly had so much fun creating some of my own. It forces you to use words you probably wouldn’t have used. By going through somebody else’s work makes you discover new and interesting words that you would have never thought of.

5. What you do with the finished poems is completely up to you! You can hang it on your wall, keep it to yourself, give it to a friend or even post it online ( there is a huge blackout poetry community out there that you could join! )

*some notes/ideas to consider before you start*

  • Why not set your self a time limit? This will force you to push yourself outside your confort zone. Plus, by setting a time limit you wont even have an excuse because you can make a poem on your lunch break or on your bus ride to work/school. 
  • It’s very important to remember that the poem will read from left to right and top to bottom, you cannot pick random words and make them work if they are out of order.

Again, I highly recommend you to try it out for yourself! If you do, please, please make sure to tweet them to me (here is my twitter). Thank you so much for reading! Can’t wait to see your lovely blackout poems!

14 thoughts on “How to: Blackout Poetry

  1. Amanda says:

    Been wanting to try blackout poetry for some time but never got to it! I tried using newspapers before but there usually isn’t much colourful, descriptive language in news articles.. I’d use a book but it seems a waste to ruin it! Have you tried this before? I’d love to see your blackout poetry! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Riheyn says:

    Reblogged this on riheyn and commented:
    Blackout Poetry is so cool. I tried it yesterday after coming across Chiara’s blog post about how to do blackout poetry. And I came up with four blackout writings. I don’t know if I did well, but hey I have just started and there’s a long way to go with this interesting activity!

    Liked by 1 person

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