Tell me more: The artist Tom Phillips made “blackout poetry” famous in the 1970s with his illustrated treatment of the 1892 novel A Human Document (see right). He painted and collaged on top of the original text to transform it into a new story, and one that he continues to change with every new printing of his book, A Humument.
Classroom applications: The artist Austin Kleon has sparked new interest in blackout poetry as a form, using materials like sharpies and the New York Times to create new meaning from existing text. We’ve used Kleon’s work to inspire our students to write 6-word memoirs, to add meaning to texts we’re reading, or to give new life to old textbooks.
- Kleon’s work is widely available; his blog is a great place to start: http://austinkleon.com/category/newspaper-blackout-poems/
- The New York Times designed an interactive site to allow readers to make digital blackout poetry from some of its articles. We prefer the Sharpie and paper version, but this is satisfying in a different way (available here).