| | | | | |

The Art of Blackout Poetry

several examples of blackout poetry for inspiration!Have you discovered Blackout Poetry yet? It’s equally fun for kids and adults and you probably have all you need to do it without buying a thing!  

Blackout Poetry is a form of “found poetry” where you select words that catch your interest from a newspaper, book, or other printed text – along with a few additional words to make it flow. Then you “redact” all the words you don’t want. This is often (but not always) done with a black marker, hence the name “blackout poetry”. Your chosen words will form a new message, giving the text a whole new meaning.

You might have an idea of the direction you’d like to go with your poem, but with such a limited choice of words, it helps to be open-minded about the outcome! You can start by circling words you like in pencil or by placing a piece of tracing paper on top to help with word selection while you get the hang of it.

Take your Blackout Poetry a step further by adding patterns, designs, or a drawing to the areas you’re “redacting”. For example, instead of just filling in around your chosen words with solid black, you could create a drawing or design that relates to your poem. Just as with any illustration, your art should support the remaining text and add to its meaning.

Author Austin Kleon has popularized Blackout Poetry with his Newspaper Blackout book, and its companion website, newspaperblackout.com. If you’re on Instagram, check out the hashtag #blackoutpoetry or simply google “blackout poetry images” for more creative inspiration!

In the video below, Ariel Bissett uses old books and watercolor paint for a different fun effect:

Blackout Poetry is a creative way to repurpose your old newspapers and magazines. You can also be on the lookout for old books at yard sales and thrift stores. Or photocopy some pages from a kids’ book or a favorite current title. The possibilities are endless!

And while you’re at it, be sure to check out the New York Times digital blackout poetry maker, where you can make your own Blackout Poem and then see the poems that others have made from the exact same text. It’s fun to see how different they all turn out, even when starting with an identical piece of writing!

Making Blackout Poetry teaches you to look closely at words and play with language, all while being creative and having fun. You’ll never look at a block of text in quite the same way again!

WARNING: Blackout Poetry can be addicting!

PS – See my Instagram for individual pics of each of the poems above!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Hi! I’ve never heard of this, Thanks for a new project. It looks interesting.

      1. Yep me too! I want to do it because I am doing a presentation about it.

  2. Do you do this as an art lesson or a literature lesson? I’m an art teacher and think this would be so much fun to do with my older students!

    1. Thanks for your question, Megan! One of the best things about this lesson is that it addresses both art and writing and you can really emphasize either – or both! If your focus is on literature, you can keep the “blacking out” part of this project very simple or make the level of artistic treatment optional. As an art teacher, you may want to show more examples of different creative ways to black-out the areas of text, just to get students inspired. Have fun!!